24 answers

17 Year Old "Step" Son Wants to Run Away

My boyfriend and I are struggling with his son. HE will graduate this year but won't be 18 till this fall. He doesn't know what he wants to do for a career, doesn't have a job, doesn't want to go into the military. Every thing either of us says to him about any thing, or even to do chores around the house turns into this huge battle with him saying he wants to leave and cant wait to move out of this F$@%^##ng house. He has all his things packed in his room....what do we do????

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well, thank youall for thee wonderful and helpful advise. We have alot of food for thought. I share all of yur input with my boyfriend as well. I don't know that it has helped our teen, but it has helped us immensly. We are more calm and have stopped telling him that he CAN'T leave, because he can. We have also stopped engaging him in his temper tantrums that he deliberatle has to keep fights going in hopes of an excuse to leave or get thrown out. We have taken away our computer, our vehicles, our phones. Any thing he needs to do has to be done from school, hopefully that will encourage to keep going and graduate if he does move out before that time. His things that he THINKS are his belong to his dad and I, if he goes he gets his toothbrush and the clothes on his back. He doesn't seem to be in as big of a hurry to leave knowing he has nothing and needs all of it to survive. He is looking for a job in the paper because it is free. Everything else costs money, which he doesn't have. We keep our fingers crossed. Again thank to all of you. S. R.

Featured Answers

One-on-one and family counseling worked great for me and my folks when I was that age. It was a battle to get me to go at first, but when I realized I could scream at my father and he couldn't tell me to be quiet or interrupt me, it was fantastic. It broke down a lot of barriers in my family and I strongly recommend it.

HI S.-
My girlfriend had this happen with her daughter.
Sometimes tough love is hard. They let her go and also- cut off her funds for support. They told her if she wanted to be on her own- she would have to be- they loved her but didn't agree with her decision and so therefore don't feel obligated to support her financially.
She's struggling- and it's still a struggle for my girlfriend- but the choice was made and now she's of age and still on her own.
Good luck- me- 47yo mom of 6yo twins.
B. J
http://www.thinkslim.org

Perhaps you could help him to move to his next stage in life. I have seen parents have success by helping their 16/17 years olds look for an apartment and find a job. Once they realize the extent of their responsibilities if they move out, they either rise to the occasion or calm down at home.

Without threatening, let him know that you can tell he needs to get on with his life away from parents. How can you help? Tell him what you are willing to do to help him so that he has the best chance for success. Give him some start-up money so that he can make a down-payment on an apartment.

17 is really ready for something new. Embrace this on his behalf. He will come home often and be glad you are there when he knows how much you support him.

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We had a son like this. One day his friends were at our house and he called me a name. He did runaway to a friends once and we had him brought back. The day he called me a name I kicked him out in front of his friends. They couldn't believe how he was at home. I called all of his friends parents and told them that he was not to stay with them and not work. Well, it wasn't long before he wanted to come back. Life wasn't so easy 'on the outside'.
Sit down with him and ask him what he would do if he moves out. Try to explain to him that it will cost money to live and if he doesn't start thinking about that, he will be in trouble. We used tough love with our son. I thought he would never come around to be the great kid he was meant to be. Lo and behold he did and now has a son of his own and let's just say he now has his handsful with him. He is 32 now. Hang in there, I know those are easy words to say. If you would like to talk sometime or maybe our son could talk to your son; please give me a call. ###-###-####

KimE

1 mom found this helpful

Make a list of all the things he will need to be able to move out and live on his own, dishes (pots, pans, plates, silverware....), furniture (bed, couch...), electronics (tv, stereo, dvd player...),deposits (rental, utility), etc. Let him know that he can move out after high school, but until then, IF he is serious about moving out, he needs to find a way to provide these things for his new place BY HIMSELF (in other words, he will have to get a job!). Set aside a place for him to store things, perhaps even help him shop....show him what the prices are, the less expensive places to buy things, etc. Let him know that you are mentally and emotionally supportive of his choice to move out but won't be financially supportive. He will have to realize on his own that he won't be able to live on his own without a means of financial support...a job. Does he get an allowance? If so, make it dependant on the chores he does. My kids don't get paid if they don't do the work because that's how it is in the real world.

1 mom found this helpful

Rachael B gave you some good advice on letting him fall... but before you do, make sure he is 18 and legally able to be on his own or his father might be held responsible if anything happened to him on his own.

I know that age well... teenage years are the worse. They think they are grown up but they don't realize that being grown up is by being responsible, more then age. You might sit down with your step son and tell him when he graduates he may move out, if he has a plan on how to support himself, a place he is paying to live, no bumming off friends, and ask him how he is going to clean and cook and do his laundry if he isn't willing to learn it at home before moving out. If he is reasonable at all he would see the truth in that... but he is 17 and reason doesn't fit into the picture. My son moved out as soon as he was 18. When he had to pay his way, his tune changed big time.

Now for my philosphy on teen years... Aliens clone our good children and take them, leaving us with this undesirable clone! They keep them a few years and then return them to us.

Words to remember... This too shall pass! Before you know it he will be working hard, living on his own, getting married and having kids in which he will say to you "I can't believe he thought he could get away with that! Doesn't kids have any brains these days??!!" With that you just smile and say "Yes, I know, I had a 17 year old boy at one time"

Good luck and remember even the animals have trouble with their grown sons... fighting dad for the top place in the herd.

I was kind of like that at that age. I also graduated at 17. There were "reasons", but partly my just being a know it all 17 year old. My parents were divorced, I lived with my mom. My dad offered to buy me a car ($200) and get me a full time job to pay for it as well as my own gas and insurance. So it was the freedom I wanted but with the lessons of learning how to work for it. If I didn't work I didn't have a car, just like big people! I learned how difficult it was not only to hold a full time job but check the oil once in a while! It really was agreat dose of reality!

It sounds like your step son in hurting and angry about something. He choosen to lash out at the both of you with his behavior. My husband and I had many similar incidents with our 18 year old daughter. She would bottle her emotions up until we said something to her. This would be the match to the fuse. She would explode, there was crying yelling, cursing then the comunnication would start. We basically told her we love you no matter what. You will not treat us with disrespect. We can help you. We never threatened her. We showed all three of our kids unconditional love and help them accountable for their behavior and decisions. S. I would try to get him to talk. Not to his friends but to you or his father or another adult that he trust and you trust.

everyone (baring sever mental disabilities) must grow up and leave home sometime. next time he is on an emotional rampage of I can't wait to leave this F ing house and the like, let him know that those feelings are normal and healthy, he should want to be on his own, but how are you going to pay for a place to live and how are you going to keep it clean, etc? He needs to learn that responsibility some time and that time might as well be now so it's easier on him when that time comes. Let him know that you are only wanting what is best for him and you want him to be happy in his life and for that to happen you need to make sure that he is prepared to live in the world on his own.
Maybe give him some insight into how much it costs to live on your own. show him how much your bill are and how much is spent on groceries and how much it costs to put gas in your car... your regular everyday kinds of expenses.

When I got out on my own it wasn't a total shocker to me that living on my own was expensive, but I wasn't totally prepared for it since my parents never talked to me about those kind of things and I kind of feel it was an injustice to me to be finding it all out once I was out there. That's why now, with my own kids ~ my oldest is 13~ I tell them that I love them and wish they could be with me everyday for the rest of our lives, but I want them to have a life of their own. I want them to get out of here and learn and experience as much as they can and that is why I want them to do chores and homework, etc. so they will be ready to go when they are old enough.

as for his attitude about not being able to wait until he can leave, I think it is very normal and a vast majority of teens are like that. Just try to stay emotionally supportive. easier said than done on the rough days.

Hi S.,

It seems dramatic, but your stepson really needs someone to listen. This drama may be his way of getting some attention or just a release of his frustration as a young adult with no obvious path. The tough part is that as a teen he's in need of guidance, yet he is old enough practically to be on his own. One of many ideas would be for your significant other to make an appointment with him to visit the guidance counselor at school. Having a third party offer options and SUPPORT for your stepson is a first step toward allowing 'the village' to raise the child.

And, in a way, your stepson may be wanting to know that he's capable of making his own way in the world. some ideas are to list a few of his interests and research a mentor for him. tell him you'll help him - knowing that it's his decision to make the commitment to follow through. Even taking a community college course in the summer may help his sense of being a decision-maker and becoming an adult. This isn't an easy time for your family, yet it's very important to know the normal tug of the teenager toward independence.

Best wishes - K. C
P.S. Also see innerreview.com

S.,

You have a power struggle on your hands. He is angry, which is typical of some teens. If he has his bags packed, does he know where he is going. Sometimes it is best to let them go.

However, I would recommend having him see a counselor who specializes in adolescents. He may not want to go, but the counselor may be able to give you some tips.

Good luck!

L. :)

We had the same problem with our daughter.

I agree with the suggestion to listen to him. Ask him why he wants to move out, what issues he has, etc... Explain to him that adults *talk*, they don't yell and scream and swear at one another. If he wants to *be* an adult, then he needs to act like one.

And in the end, if that doesn't work, let him go. Once he's 18 you can't stop him anyway, and perhaps it's what will turn him around. Some kids just won't listen, they have to experience, to learn - no matter how hard that might be for him and for you. Don't forget that the world doesn't revolve around him and there are other people in the household being hurt by his actions and words. Those two small children of yours, and your relationship with your boyfriend, are certainly being affected by his attitude and the tension. At some point the well being of the rest of your family has to become a priority. Do what you can to help him, but if he refuses your help and continues as he has, you're going to have to let him go.

It's hard to let them go - we had to do it with our oldest daughter, twice. She's starting to wise up now and she's discovering that life in the real-world isn't all parties and fun, there's responsibilities too. Needless to say she's struggling but learning more through that process than she could from us telling her about it.

S.,
Your boyfriend has a tough problem. Did he allow this behavior from his son when he was small? I ask because a friend of mine was in the same boat by our senior year of high school and growing up I was always surprised at how she spoke to her parents -- and they allowed it. That langauage is not appropriate. Period. You have small children in the same environment to consider as well and people who tend to use bad language are immature and unable to communicate their feelings any other way. That alone should tell you and your boyfriend that he is not prepared to handle the world outside your sheltered and secure walls. Will he talk to potential employers like that? None of this, of course, will make him change his mind. He thinks he knows it all and if your boyfriend has taught him what he needs to know then he should survive. Is that enough though?

I agree with most of the comments before me -- you have to let him go. He will fall on his face and he will learn from that. Choosing the harder path is foolish, but well within his right at the age of 18. Pray for him and don't make things too easy (swinging door, money, car insurance, etc). He wants the independence then by all means let him have it. My friend moved out our senior year, never went to school again, got pregnant 6 months later, eventually married the guy and has been struggling for economic freedom now for 22 years. Not quite the life she had hoped for herself.

You will always love your children and nothing can change that, but loving them and nurturing them are one thing. Letting them take advantage of you and walk all over you is something else. Is his mother involved in the picture at all? Best of luck to you all as you struggle with this situation.

I don't think a thing. If he wants to go he'll go. Sure he isn't of legal age till the fall but if he leaves before than what would stopping him really accomplish. I would simply tell him he's free to go whenever he wants AFTER he graduates... and that if he wants to come home he can at any time. (Assuming that is the case) Just be supportive and loving so he has somewhere to turn if it all goes badly. He has to live and learn on his own. You know this. So just trust that you two raised him well and he'll do well in life cause you gave him the proper tools!

Just let him go . but make sure he has a place to stay , at a place that you and his dad can keep an eye on him . evey now and then .
a friend of mine had the same problem , and she let her almost 18 yr old son move in with his maternal grand mother for a while , maybe if possible find a realitive or good friend that he can stay with for a while untill he figures out what he is gonna do . .C. N

One-on-one and family counseling worked great for me and my folks when I was that age. It was a battle to get me to go at first, but when I realized I could scream at my father and he couldn't tell me to be quiet or interrupt me, it was fantastic. It broke down a lot of barriers in my family and I strongly recommend it.

I would suggest counseling with the father and son. This is a really hard time for some teens, and they need help understanding themselves, and parents could use help relating to their teens. He's got his stuff pack--that needs to be taken seriously.

My brother almost ran away when we were young--I happened to break into his room (to steal some of his clothes!) and find brand new luggage with all of his stuff packed. Wake up moment for our family!!

Best wishes!

Dear S.,

Don't fret. ALL 17 year olds are like this. I have two girls. One mine and one a step child. My daughter couldn't follow rules and thought running to her dad's house was the answer. She kept going back and forth because she wasn't happy. They are never happy at this age. They do not want to do chores, they don't want to select a career path. This is all normal. I am 37 and my college professors tell me not to worry if your kids can't figure out what they want to do right away, they will figure it out. Now if they get to be 21 or 22 and are still lazy then you really have a problem. My daughter lives on her own and figured out that life sucks when you have to do it yourself. She regrets growing up too soon. My step daughter is not disrespectful but ready and waiting to go when she is 18 also. You can't stop them. Just support them. They will figure out that life sucks without you cooking their meals and doing their laundry. When they have to pay their own bills and work life hits them pretty hard. I try to step back as much as I can because I am like you, I feel they should have a path. My daughter I have talked into college this fall. My stepdaughter is also going to become a school teacher. They just now figured that out. So give it some time, and patience, don't ride them and it will all work out. Hope this helps. Just remember to remind them about the language, it's not acceptable outside the house so it shouldn't be acceptable in. Have a great day. Oh, and I always made my kids do whatever chores I wanted them to do before they go to go anywhere and do anything. Works great! You both get what you want!
C. H

HI S.-
My girlfriend had this happen with her daughter.
Sometimes tough love is hard. They let her go and also- cut off her funds for support. They told her if she wanted to be on her own- she would have to be- they loved her but didn't agree with her decision and so therefore don't feel obligated to support her financially.
She's struggling- and it's still a struggle for my girlfriend- but the choice was made and now she's of age and still on her own.
Good luck- me- 47yo mom of 6yo twins.
B. J
http://www.thinkslim.org

Perhaps you could help him to move to his next stage in life. I have seen parents have success by helping their 16/17 years olds look for an apartment and find a job. Once they realize the extent of their responsibilities if they move out, they either rise to the occasion or calm down at home.

Without threatening, let him know that you can tell he needs to get on with his life away from parents. How can you help? Tell him what you are willing to do to help him so that he has the best chance for success. Give him some start-up money so that he can make a down-payment on an apartment.

17 is really ready for something new. Embrace this on his behalf. He will come home often and be glad you are there when he knows how much you support him.

Maybe he should consider the military. My husband is a Station Commander of a Recruiting station in Ames. The Army offers many benefits, jobs that the regular public has never even thought of and they also offer many bonuses (big bonuses) that he might qualify for. If you/him are interested let me know. There's no harm in at least checking out his options. My husband has been in for 10 years (since he was 18) and will retire in 8 more. Age 38 and receive health benefits and 1/2 his current salary. It's really a great opportunity if you pick the right job, etc... Just to let you know my husband was in a similar position when he was 17 years old. He just wanted to leave home. He now has a great relationship with his family, but just went through a lot as a kid :)

Good luck!

K.
____@____.com

Hi
Let him move out!!! If it's so much better out there then by all means he needs to try it. Plus it doesn't sound like he is being a good role model for the younger ones. Trust me it's shocking for me to say this, I'm more the pushover for my kids, and my husband helps to balance that. Anyway, the whole point is for one of two things to happen. He moves out and actually grows up and makes it and you are all happy or he comes back and says he wants to move back in. If that happens then you make an agreement of what is expected before he can move back. YOUR house YOUR rules.(not being a tyrant, just the fact) (job,college,military,chores,respect,no swearing,ect) I have 22 and 20 yr old sons. When my older one moved out after HS we got a long much better when he would come over. My other one went through a lack of respect for me stage his first year of college, it got bad enough for me to say to my husband that he wasn't living here for the summer if that continued. I also have an 18 & 13 yr girl and then a 9yr old boy so I know it is really important what you allow someone older to do in front of them. Sorry I feel like I rambled, good luck

Buy him a tank of gas.

Let him! Just let him know what respnsiblilities he will have like food, rent, gas, job, etc. We had a 16 yr old daughter that threatened us with that and we told her of what she had to be responsible for asked if she needed help packing and don't let the door hit her in the butt on the way out. Well, after thinking about it, she changed her mind, because she knew we were on the same page as husband and wife and were seriously. As long as the child lives in your house, they have to abide by your rules! He is your son, not your friend.

My advice would be to just let him go. It might be hard on your bf and you, but he's old enough to figure things out on his own. It's tough love. If he doesn't want to do chores, get a job, or be in the military, then he needs to go figure out how life goes on the 'outside'. Maybe, if it gets too hard, then he'll come back and realize that doing chores and having a roof over his head isn't so bad. But make sure that if he does come back to tell him that doing chores and looking for work is a must. He can't be a bum all his life, right?
I'm just suggesting pretty much of what my family did to me. I couldn't wait to get out of the house either, BUT I was also, always cleaning up the kitchen and wherever every day. If I was to live in my parents house, I had to do chores, find a job, etc. It's hard out there by yourself (especially with kids).
Well, I hope it works out for your family, whatever you choose to let him do.

I would just tell him that the day he graduates he is free to move out. And then I wouldn't mention another thing about any of it. The more you nag him the more he feels like he has to show that he can do it on his own.
Don't worry about how he'll make it or where he'll work. The rest of the world manages so why can't he. He'll figure it out soon enough.
I would say "I'm SO excited that you're taking the initiative to get out on your own, and as soon as you graduate we'll go apartment shopping". Be happy for him that he's being so independent. Sometimes reverse psychology is the best medicine. Eventually he'll realize that it's not working and hopefully that will be before he graduates :o)
I can honestly say that half of his aggression is because he's scared of what he's going to do when he graduates. Go online and order some info packets to some colleges in the area. Have them mailed to him. Don't say that you asked for them or even mention anything about them. Just give them to him as ordinary mail or set it on his bed. Maybe he'll look at it and maybe he won't. I guarantee he won't look at it in front of you so don't even act like you know what it is so he won't toss it.
My brother went through the same thing when he was 16. He moved out and ended up living with my Uncle for about 6 months. Then he came home, got his GED, and went to Tech college. After that he had grown up and now is a wonderful Husband and Dad.
Just be patient, give up control and let him make his own decisions. The best thing right now is that he graduates. He'll figure out the rest on his own.
Best Wishes,
J.
Mom to 4 and soon one more through another adoption.

Hi S.! My Name is Deb.My 1 and only son was 8yrs old when his father and I divorced and 11 when I remarried. I must say that he did not have a good relationship with either his birth father or step, but we were close. He was always a good kid....then he started rebeling at about 16.When he called me a F@#$!n Bitch and broke all the rules of the house I through him out. He too said he was going to run away.He found that non of his "friends" would help him and spent 2 days living under a bridge.Broke my heart but was a good lesson for him. If may not work for you but it did in my case.Good luck and dont let him see he is getting to you!

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