22 answers

My 17 Year Old Daughter Ran Away and Doesn't Seem to Be Sorry She Did It!!!

My daughter ran away and was gone for 3 wks before I found her. She hasn't said she was sorry and has a "I'm an adult" attitude. How do I punish her with out having her just run away again? Has anyone gone through something similar and if so how did you handle it and what was the outcome?

What can I do next?

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I have to agree with Christine A. I was a 17 year old once. And did run away. Now that I have 2 children of my own I often ask myself the question, "what could someone have said to me to make me not act like an ass"? Nothing. I was going to do what I wanted to do, no matter what. It is very important that you have communication with her and know her friends and their parents.

17 is a tough age!!! She is sprouting wings and should do so with respect and limitations. As long as she lives with you this is a requirement. If she wants to "move out" and "support" herself, then she can see how hard it is. I moved out at 16 and after months of struggling to make it asked to come home and my mom said, sorry...won't work. Not that she didn't love me, but we reap what we sow and I was fine, she helped me get a better place, but I kept it up. Wow, I was forced to work hard and earn my way in life. I am grateful for becoming a strong adult and learned to respect others. Best to you...

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Hi A.-
I havn't had either of my sons run away. But I feel for the communication break down, that must be going on. For what ever reason or reasons & with out fully realizing its happening, it sneaks up on you. There are two books I've been reading & have shared excerps with my boys, here & there, when situations arise. Once in awhile, one will pipe up & say, "Yes, Mom, I Know..."Moms Words Of Wisdom Again." lol Cute. But they listen. If not fully now, hopefully later when it's needed. They don't know it, but I'm writing a journal for each of them and plan on giving them each of theirs the day they leave for college, military or away from home...what ever they choose to do.
Anyway, the two books of interest are:
"Life Strategies For Teens" By Jaw McGraw And "The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens" By Sean Covey
Here is one quote from Jay's Book I especially like:
1)You Can Either Get It, Or You Don't
2)You Create You Own Experience
3)People Do What Works
4)You Cannot Change What You Do Not Ackowledge
5)Life Rewards Action
6)There Is No Reality, Only Perception
7)Life Is Managed; It Is Not Cured
8)We Teach People How To Treat Us
9)There Is Power In Forgiveness
10)You Have To Name It Before You Claim It

All My Best-S.

1 mom found this helpful

i ran away for 3 days when i was 15 and came home with that attitude and my mom basically told me if i wanted to act like an adult she was going to treat me like one and all that goes with it she made me start paying her rent (i had already dropped out of school and wasnt doing anything with my time) and pay my share of electric , water, phone everything and stopped doing my laundry stopped picking up after me i dropped my attitude real quick and she wasnt mean or anything she treated me like an adult about it and before dropped the attitude she gave me all the freedom that goes with an adult so that iwould see that she wasnt going to make me do the responsable adult thing but i got the freedom side of it too i was more then willing to give up the freedom just to have her do my laundry again but it took me going to her to say i didnt want it this way anymore for it to go back she never said i told ya so oranything i think she knew my ego was hurt enough having to tell her i was wrong and when i do she calmly told me if it happened again i wouldnt be allowed to come home because itwasnt fair to her and my father i straightened up real quick

1 mom found this helpful

Honestly I would think you might want to contact a child psychology expert. Surely there is a lot to the dynamics of your relationship, things you could not possibly explain in an email.

Perhaps one session between you and a professional can help you better understand how to deal with this difficult situation.

My friend sees someone named Grace Childs in Lake Worth and she has helped my friend tremendously with advise on raising her daughter, who is quite the handful! And Grace's suggestions have really worked!

I am sorry for this difficult and scarey situation you are going through here. first of all I am a huge beleiver in the power of prayer so pray! definately pray! and I will also. I beleive there are programs that the county/school social worker
could set up sometimes they have single moms who are extremely young and struggle in day to day life maybe she could hang with that mother for a few days or a week? and really see that it isnt so glamorous trying to work everyday to eat and have a place to live..only to hand over what $ money she would make to just have a place..let alone be able to have designer clothing and stereo..ipod..bling etc. the real maybe you could get outside help/professional to help you make her realize adulthood is coming all too soon to jusr enjoy her family time, and work on her education, in this day and age you need many plans to acheive lifes goals and the base of it all is a good education..god bless you!

I have to agree with Christine A. I was a 17 year old once. And did run away. Now that I have 2 children of my own I often ask myself the question, "what could someone have said to me to make me not act like an ass"? Nothing. I was going to do what I wanted to do, no matter what. It is very important that you have communication with her and know her friends and their parents.


I am so sorry to hear about your daughter. I am a mother of three, my oldest is 18. I too, have lost both of my parents, and my husband and I have been married for 20 years. All I can say is, stop beating yourself up over this. It is not due to anything that you or your husband have done. Sometimes in today's world, kids can really get the wrong message from other kids and peer pressure. I know this happened to me with my 18 year old son. He was given too much throughout his life, much like most kids today are. He was put into an expensive private high school, and still got with the wrong crowd and caused us some troubles. He has since graduated high school and went into the Marine Corp. He protested that he wanted to do this, and we had no say in the matter. He went in only to stay through boot camp, then couldn't wait to get out via a previous arm injury he had. Now he seems to be drifting along, playing at staying employed and talks of college. The trouble I think with him and most kids today is that they have had too much done for them and given to them. Perhaps the best advice is to let your daughter understand that she has alot to be thankful for in the support of you and your husband and family. She needs to further realize that at some point she will have to take responsibility for herself and her actions. Hopefully, she and my son will learn they have been blessed, and come to appreciate instead of resent their family.

I don't mean to sound like Dr. Phil, but sometimes we as parents help to create the problem. Maybe alittle less love and support on our part wouldn't hurt either one of these two kids.

God luck, and God bless! Please remember, and this to will pass, as things in life do. And somehow we become much stronger for it.

K. H

I have a 15 year old, an 11 year old and an8 year old. I am asingle mom and also got pregnant young. My oldest did try this once and I called the police and they were helpful in explaining what could happen to her if she ever did this again. I also realize it could have been a mistake if the police did not want to be nice so I do not know that I would do it again. Once a child is in the system it kind of puts a pressure on the rest of there life. I did realize that at times I am very hard on my children and expect a lot out of them but you have to start giving a little and letting them earn their trust with you. In one year your daughter can legally leave your home and never come back if that is what she wants. It sounds to me like you are a good mother and have given your daughter morals and values to stand on. Now you have to step back and let her make mistakes on her own and just be there to support and encourage her. Communication is the key with a teenager and as we want to trust them they also want to trust us. I hope I helped.

Dear A.,

All children want rules and boundries! Even teenagers, but they just will not admit it. My 18 year tried pulling I am grown last month. Guess what? She is still at home. The reason is we have rules:1 in order to live here you have to follow the rules. 2 if you do not want to live here you must have a {PLAN} to move out.Some of our rules are to live here you must go to school.Another is you must have a job. The reason for the job is because she wanted her driver license. She must pay what the extra cost it is for her to be on the insurance.

Another thing is she must give us money to help pay for school. We payed for the first year of college. We are paying for the second year. With the money she gives us it will pay for third.The fourth year will be the same. Once said and done she will have college all paid. The topper is she gets my husband 04 cavalier. I am proud to say she started her 2nd year at PCC yesterday. She also went to work and found out she had a raise and a good evaluation.

Teenagers say and do dumb stuff!We are here to help guide them hopefully to a good life.You and your husband have to sit down and figure out the rules of your house.You have to be committed
to rewards and punishments!


Stay at home mom, mother of 6

As an experienced mother of a runaway teenage daughter, I will express my concerns. #1 she is not an adult, even though she thinks she is. Punishment at this age, rsults in resentment. Where did you find her? At a friend's home?
DO you know who she is friends with or the kind of kids they are? Ususallly it is because they don't like the rules at home, and can get away with more when they are some where else. However, as I spoiled mine, I have learned that if you have frinds over, ALOT, feed them ALOT,
get to know parents. You will see what the attraction is. I actually formed an alliance with some of the parents like: my daughter is gone ( is she at your place?) I knew she was in a safe place. I had to decide what my alternatives were. To take a chance of her being out there, who knows where, with who knows who, or somewhere safe.
AT 17 they are savvy in alot of ways, they are children with adult bodies and ideas. Will she talk to you, about why. And if the answer is: you treat me like a baby, or you never let me do anything. Let her talk, listen , not only to what she says ; but what her body language is. Take her and a friend somewhere lkie a one day trip, and have some girl fun( shopping, bowling,theme park,make over, stuff lik ethat) She is too old to punish. She needs to know that you were 17 once. She will not be sorry she ran away, if the experience was not unpleasant. It is like a taste of freedom, with no place to go.

Alright A., here's the thing you can take everything away from her or treat her as an adult, neither one is going to make her respect you or your rules. You can't talk to someone who doesn't want to listen. Here's my personal thoughts on what to do. First stop trying to talk, it's useless right now. Let her know that if she runs away again you're going to 1. call the police and report her as a runaway 2. NOT look for her, because she does want you to. you have to continue to live your life because you have other children in the home that are being affected by her behavior as well, and their lives cannot revolve around her drama.
How soon does she become 18 and has she completed school yet? If she's got the better part of the year, then you need to locate at risk teen programs in your area. If she is about to be 18 and has completed school, you are no longer responisble for her actions. If she runs away once she's 18, change the lock on the doors, pack up her room, and make arrangements at your convenience for her to get them. If she has a car in your name and runs away, taking the car with her, report it stolen. You have to practive tough love. Let her know that she has to abide by your rules if she wants to return. She would have to agree to individual and family counseling, set a curfew for the week and the weekends, know that if she's not home by curfew she is locked out for the night. Require she get a job and maintain it. Require she pay you 200.00 a month for room and board, put the money in a savings account for her. Don't tell her. Once she's ready to move out you can give her that money to set up her own home. It wil teach her responsibilty and that you do care about her.
I was somewhat of a difficult teen, although I never ran away. But my parents had set the curfew for me. At first I stressed where was going to stay if I didn't make it home on time. After awhile I started staying at a friends apartment. My parents figured out where I was staying. They came and took my car, so I had no choice but to return home, if I wanted my car back. I had to earn it back by following their rules.

hi im sorry to know your going through this. its heartbreaking, frustrating and humiliating and frightening. im not a religious person but yet im spiritual and after going through the same thing when i was a teen and then having my daughter go through it when she was a teen found that the best thing you can do is turn your daughter over to God. pray alot and set a good example. always ask yourself what advice would you give your best friend if she was in your position and then take that advice.

I was a problem child. I started runnung away when I was 13. And went home every once in a while just to leave again. The reason that I ran was that my parents were always fighting and then blaming me for everything that was going wrong in their life. Not saying that this is the case with your family. But the fact is that your daughter sees things differently from you. SHe can see an arguement as a major thing. If it is not something from inside her or your house it is most likely from outside her home. Look at what her friends and boyfriend are doing. They could just have preasured her to go do something and she felt so bad about it that she could not come home. That is why she has not wanted to talk about it. Do not preasure her but let her know that when she is ready to talk you will LISTEN. Also if she wants to act all grown up the best thing to do is get her truely ready to be a grown up. And treat her like one.

Hi I am sad to say that I was once your dauhgter....I ran away 2 times one of the 2 was for a month and was hainging out with the wrong croud most of my teens and most of my early 20's...My parents didnt understand what was going on with me..I grew up in a nice home upper middle class and on the outside everything looked fine..I will tell you that as far as what I went through realy didnt have much to do with my parents..oh and to put your mind at a little ease I did eventually grow out of it..I am doing really well now I graduated high school went into the military and even took some college classes...so it wont be bad for ever... I will tell you alot of what I went through was socially related..I dont like to use the word peer pressure because we make our own descions, One of my worst enemys was boredem! I wasnt really into anything so I usually entertained myself with making bad descions and getting in trouble...I will tell you one of the best things my parents did do was pull me out of the school I was going to and put me in an alternative school where I worked at my own pace..and I actually made up 2 years worth of credits (I got kicked out my fresh and soph years) in a matter of 2 semesters..I also took more classes in that school to be ahead of the year I was graduating in..during the summer between my soph and Jr year we did move to another city..(not because of me my dad got transfered) and that was also good when we moved I met new friends...but some advise I can give is try to find some things your daughter might be intrested in to fill her free time that her current friends arent doing so she wont be influenced also you may want to look into some alternative schools so that she still will get her education because it is one thing she cant do without! but just remember that it isnt you or your husband. there are things that we go through growing up that we dont know how to deal with and sometimes we make bad desicions...also as far as punishment puting her in a different school will be punishment to her also cause her friends wont be there...just haing in there.

I ran away at 14 and wanted to since I was 11. At 17 finally I left and never came back. In my case it was the best thing I ever did, although I still keep contact with my parents. Most kids run AWAY, not to. She ran AWAY from something. Why would you punish her for this? Find out what hurt so much or what she feared so much that made her RUN and stay away for 3 weeks! No one want to run away, they are trying to escape from something. Maybe it's from something within herself even,or it's something in her enviroment. What is it?

Hi A.,

You mentioned you “spoiled” the kids. At 17 your daughter should be actively working towards becoming a productive citizen of our community after she graduates high school, by either going to college, learning a vocation that will enable her to earn a living after she graduates, or working and earning her own way now. If she is working and self sufficient, as many 17 year olds are capable of being, you might consider having her emancipated so that if she commits a crime or destroys property while she’s away from home, you won’t be held responsible. You would need to go before a judge, and I believe the cost is minimal, though I’m not positive. This is a site with some info: http://www.flsenate.gov/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Displ... .

You mentioned also that you question your parenting decisions because you were a young mom. Just my two cents here, but go easy on yourself, age has nothing to do with it. There are plenty of mature parents that don’t have a clue either.

Girrrlll, you'd be surprised how many of us that started out young are going through something right now with our teenagers...just try to do the best that you can.....and pray....

Hi A. H. I'm a mom of two...a young man of 16yrs and a young girl of 11 who thinks she's 21yr. I have no doubts you and your husband are great parents. I'm sorry about your parents lost. I want to first say, I haven't experence this pain as a parent but I do have a 16yr who may think the same and maybe a teen to teen we as parent can understand them a little better. A. the mere reason you your self question your decisions, makes your daughter think she also has the power to question your decision. Your daughter sees this also and thinks she can get over by maybe doing and saying things she knows will make you second guest your decisions. I spoke to my son and asked how would he think in a situation like this. He said Just talk to her and ask her why she felt running away was the answer..but be prepare to maybe hear something you don't want to hear or maybe never wanted to hear. A "I'm sorry" maybe is not what your going to hear..but maybe a why it happen. Were I hope is a beginning. As a mom I wish kids came with instruction...but hey, with a little attention and understanding she's not a baby any more, I hope things get better.

It is impossible to answer without knowing your daughter and her situation with drugs, sex, job skills, communication level. Do you get along with her or fight? Are you close? Im sure she had her reasons for 'running away' - find out what they are. Does she think you are too strict or unreasonable? You must change your 'punishment' mentality - set some rules, be flexible, ask for mutual respect and there are rewards and consequences. She will be gone for good soon since she IS almost an adult. Work to cultivate a friendship that will last throughout your lives. Mostly remember to let her know she will always be loved unconditionally.

I'm sure you were worried sick about her. I wouldn't punish her but I would tell her how much I love her and cherish her. And explain that she will always be your baby regardless of age and you need to know that she is safe. It's OK for her to see you cry from your concern for her.

I have a 16 year old daughter and I have to remember to give her the respect she needs to walk her own life's journey. We are all "in-process". I hug her and tell her that I love her every day, but I also have allowed her to do things that I am not comfortable with, such as getting her nose pierced. I think to myself, "she is a good person, good student, and works after school and weekends. It's her nose, not mine." She does have an early curfew that she tries to push and if she's late, we continually text or call her or her friends to pester her and she comes home right away!I trust her judgment as long as she doesn't give me reason not to.

Maybe you could point out how certain people's lives are going because of their lifestyle. For example, if you know a person who lives with no standards, you can point out how crappy their existence is. On the other hand point out some admirable ordinary people who have made good choices in life and how things are working out for them. This could be done casually and occasionally just in passing. She may begin to see the difference in quality of life.

Whatever you do, don't feed into the drama. Spend some one-on-one time with her shopping or going to dinner. Listen and don't lecture. Negotiate with her. She needs to feel respected for being an individual.

Just a thought, but is your husband her bio-dad? If not, could this be an underlying issue for her?

I hope this helps.

17 is a tough age!!! She is sprouting wings and should do so with respect and limitations. As long as she lives with you this is a requirement. If she wants to "move out" and "support" herself, then she can see how hard it is. I moved out at 16 and after months of struggling to make it asked to come home and my mom said, sorry...won't work. Not that she didn't love me, but we reap what we sow and I was fine, she helped me get a better place, but I kept it up. Wow, I was forced to work hard and earn my way in life. I am grateful for becoming a strong adult and learned to respect others. Best to you...

More than a punishment what you need to find out why she ran away. I am a mother of a 13 years old boy. Thanks God we are not facing those difficulties yet and I hope we wont. When I was a teenager I always wanted to run away but never did. I told myself will always build friendhsip and trust with my kids in order to avoid they would run away.
I suggest you take her to family therapy. Citrus Health Center have a great team of professionals, I took my son for therapy over there after he was kidnapped by his father; after few sessions I saw the dramatically change on him since he was very depressed.
Talk to your daughter and find out what she wants from you, obviously she is doing that to catch your attention, Family Therapy will be your best option.
Good Luck.

Like all the other mom's who responded I feel there is a communication gap there, and I also know how difficult it is to communicate with a 17 year old. One thing you cannot do is give up on her. My son although he never left home, would not communicate with me, it was very hard to get through to him, there was never any feedback, so I ended up talking to myself in our onesided conversations. He would make me feel I wasn't wanted in his room for conversations and such, I would leave and come back a few minutes later, until I broke through, but it wasn't easy. Nothing is ever easy when it comes to our children. At this age we all try to find ourselves, and sometimes what we find is not what we want. Go back to when you were 17, it might help you deal with her.

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