My 16 Year Old Daughter Has Moved Out

Updated on June 29, 2010
M.C. asks from Schenectady, NY
31 answers

After an argument last week, my daughter skipped school, returned home while everyone was at work, packed a bag, left a note and went to her friend's house.
The friend in question has made us uneasy for a while. She has no boundaries at home at all, she comes and goes as she pleases. She is just 17 and has a 3 month old baby, her 16 year old boyfriend also lives with her.
After my daughter left our house, I attempted to talk to her friend's mother but unfortunately she is a dead loss. She says she doesn't want to get involved and takes no responsibility for anything.
I have been married for 22 years to her Dad and our children have grown up in a stable, secure home. I am absolutely devasted and don't know how to cope. She has not attended school regularly since she left, she has got to get a job now as her friend's mother wants rent. I find myself swinging from anger to the depths of despair that she can treat us this way and throw away all her hard work at school so far. We have told her that we want her to come home and we will work it all out, even suggesting family therapy, but it is all falling on deaf ears. I am trying to maintain regular contact with her but it always seems to end up in an argument because I just can't accept what she is doing. I don't want to continue with this pattern but don't know what to do.

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So What Happened?

After two weeks out on her own, she is back (thankfully). A little worse for wear but happy to be home and although it was a short foray into the real world, it does seem that she has learned from her experience. Having to budget for rent, food, buses etc from a part time job salary was a real shock for her. She seems to have pulled away from her 'friend' and realised that she does not want to live her life like that. As hard as it was, we took the tough love approach and didn't support her in any way while she was away, we told her daily that we loved her and when she was ready to work things out she could come home, and that's exactly what she did. Thank you to everyone for your advice and support :)

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answers from San Francisco on

I think if you can be patient she can find out that supporting herself and real life aren't so much fun. Experience is the best teacher.


answers from Dallas on

I did this same thing when I was her age, though I actually lived in a pretty abusive home. I got tired of it quickly though and it was an extremely bad situation I was living in, ( though I was working and still went to school though it was more difficult) and came home about a year or so later, went to college, later got married, had a good productive life. So all hope is not lost.

Just keep in good contact with her, remain friends, tell her you love her, keep trying to get her home, and once she is there compromise on issues but be firm and have tough love at the same time. The crazier and more upset you get the farther she will go to avoid you.

But also, notify the school and police as well so they will know. In some places the parents can be held liable for runaways behavior and for skipping out in school.



answers from Milwaukee on

Call CPS and tell them what happened. They will go pick her up. She needs to know that she isn't going to get away with this. CPS can refer you to legal avenues and counselors as well.

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answers from Chicago on

Hi M.,

I am not even sure why I am responding to this as I have no experience in this situation other than having put my parents through something similar.

When I left, my parents demanded that everything they purchased for me had to be left behind. My car (not because they purchased it but because they paid for gas/insurance), clothes, shoes, etc....

If I didn't go to school the police were notified. If teachers called with failure notices, they were told to fail me. My parents essentially made me responsible for myself and to myself.

After a couple months, I realized that I was not ready to be an adult. My parents and I spoke at a neutral place as adults and we reached an agreement for my return home. It was very tough and not one bit lenient in consideration of the betrayal and disobedience, but the signed contract with my parents, my signed agreement with myself, and signed agreements with the school and police made me accountable for my own actions. Realization took hold pretty quickly.

This seems very tough and I am sure all you want is for your baby girl to come home (I am a parent to a toddler and can only imagine), but maybe something in this response can help you should the need arise.

Good luck and I hope you all can find middle ground very very soon!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Oh my I'm so sorry! Your post really broke my heart. I can only imagine what you are going through. Is her leaving due to a multitude of arguments?

I really don't have great words of advice but I can tell you about my experience. When I was 16 I did exactly as your daughter did – looooooong story short – I skipped school, packed my bags and left. What I had done was saved up money from babysitting jobs and then proceeded to move in with a friend who like you daughter's friend, had absolutely no boundaries. Her Mom worked 2 jobs and was hardly ever home. My parents encouraged me to come home and believe me, I pretended I didn't care, but it did make a difference that they begged me to come home. What ended up happening after a few days is I ran out of money, called my parents and cried that I needed money for food, they refused to send me any so I moved back home. The day I went back they hugged and kissed me, said we would work it out, go to counseling and become closer as family. We did. One thing I learned – my parents would always be there for me and I vowed never to hurt them like that again. Now I have children of my own and I know I would be devastated if what I did to my parents they did to me!!!

Keep talking to her. It may seem that your words are falling on deaf ears, but maybe not. If you ignored her that would just add fuel to her fire that "my parents don't care about me" when obviously you do. By the way, I graduated highschool and went to a reputable college so not all is lost. Don't give up on her! Tell her to come home!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

Man these kind of stories tick me off! Society is teaching these teenagers they have all these "rights" and they are still children. Let me ask you this if she was 12 would you be so placid? Probably not! Get your husband and the cops go get your daughter right now! Tell the other mother if she harbors your kid again you will press charges!! This is YOUR daughter and your responsibility. Not hers. She is doing such a fine job with her own daughter? Is this how you want you daughter to end up?? Stop being a "friend" and turn into a "mean mom". She will thank you in the long run. I'll be praying for you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

As a 16 year old does she have the right to move out? Call the cops and have her declared a runaway. Tell them where she is. Don't think a parent can take your daughter in without your permission.
I have teenagers too.
Good Luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm a bit confused as who is controlling this relationship. Your child is only 16, she has another 2 years before she can leave without you dragging her a** home. If you want her to come home then go and get her, or call the cops and they'll get her for you. I really don't see what your issue is. I know that at 16 my father would have come to the house that I was staying in and dragged me out by my hair.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Talk to the police. Report her as a runaway. Might as well kick in the "tough love" theory now...
Sorry you're going through this, I'm sure it's heartbreaking.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I'm not sure about the laws in New York, but in California, a child is either truant, incorrigable, or a runaway.
In California, a child that young can become emancipated, but that takes petitioning of the courts, proving that they are stable and able to provide financially and otherwise for themselves. It's not as fun as it sounds.
Of course the other mother isn't going to get in the middle of it!
At 16, unless your daughter wants to prove that she has a job and she can take care of her own housing, etc, she can't just be wherever she feels like being. That's not how it works.
If she doesn't want to be with you, the juvenille authorities can assign her to a crisis or foster home until she comes of age.
Before you freak out, let her know those are her choices and don't waffle.
If she thinks coming home would be better, great....but there will be rules there too.

Best wishes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sioux Falls on

Yep, call the police. They will have to release her to you. Your daughter needs help. She will hate you for it now, but love you for it later in life. Love her even when it is hard, and fight to save her, even if she does not want to be saved right now. She will pay for this the rest of her life if you don't help her.



answers from New York on

Is there an aunt or female role model that can talk to her? Maybe she could stay with a friend of yours who can ensure her safety (since the other mother isn't "getting involved")? Could you tell your daughter that you understand her need to move out, but that unless the other mother is willing to be involved that she can't stay there - she's under 18 and still your responsibility is what you can tell her.
Good luck.



answers from New York on

Having been through this with my daughter, I suggest going to Family Court and filing a PINS petition. The court will assist you in getting your daughter home , to school and whatever else you may need and set up a support system for your daughter and your family. Court sets some very clear boundaries and if your daughter doesn't abide by them , there are consequences that she won't like. I wish I had listened to my instincts about my daughters "friends" and acted sooner. She may not like you very much but in the long run she will understand that you did these things because you love her and want the best for her.

Good luck.



answers from Washington DC on

I agree, call the police and get her back. Let her know that until she is 18 you are legally liable for what happens to her, so you will not allow her to endanger her future by hanging out with this trashy girl any longer and you will not allow her to endanger your legal and financial standing by running loose around the community (if she causes anyone damages, they can sue YOU). She has no choice but to do as you require and you can prove it by just calling the police to haul her back home every time she leaves. As her parent, you can have her evaluated and treated by a therapist without her consent. You are her guardian. If things are just really, really bad, then have her checked into a residental institution that will evaluate her for behavioral issues and treat her.

Personally, I'm a homeschooler so hopefully I won't have to face this as my kids' contacts are always monitorable (I'm not blind to the fact that it could still happen though). Maybe you should consider pulling her out of public school. Sounds like you need to get her away from her current peer group ASAP. Find a good, religious, all-girls school for her to finish high-school in, or homeschool for the rest of high-school. Either way, you're guaranteed more control of her influences than you have right now. After all, you don't want her ending up like her "friend".

Hope this helps at least a little bit.



answers from Albany on

I am curious, what is the legal ground point for this? What I mean is, could you go to the police and tell them this woman is allowing your underage daughter to live there vs. making her return home? I would think the police would want to return a minor to their parents since we are responsible for them until they are 18.

I don't blame you for what you must be feeling.

I will say I know someone whose child was running away as a teen and skipping school and she was given the chance to return home to her parents and go to school. When she refused, she was put in some sort of home for troubled teens almost like a detention center and after a while, given the choice of either straightening herself out or staying in such places. The girl returned home but not right away. It was obvious that there was more going on with her and she needed counseling and whatnot that she got through this place.

Personally I'd call the police and find out what your options are. Now isn't the time to be her friend because once she turns 18, you have no ground to stand on anymore. Just remind her you love her and are trying to help her. Have you guys been having trouble for a while though because I find it odd that she would 'suddenly' start behaving this way after one argument. Kids and their parents argue. You move on. I think there is more going on here.


answers from Phoenix on

ok comming from experience I moved out of my moms house to live with my aunt at the same age as your daughter...for some reason I was just angry with my parents I cant really explain it still to this day I just wanted nothing to do with mom didnt want me to come back home though she thought everybody was happier with me living at my aunts even though I would have rather been at home...seems how she is only 16 you can get the police involved and make her come home having some type of record might not be a bad idea...just rmember in a few years she will regret it all and you will soon be best friends :) I am with my mom I just turned 24 and gave birth to her only grand child and we have never had a better relationship! good luck and it will work out sometime you just need to give her some space...OH also if you decide not to MAKE her come home stil keep in as much contact as possible with her let her know ALL THE TIME that she is welcome home see I would have gone home much sooner had I known it was a possability



answers from Pittsburgh on

Unfortunately I am in the same boat. My daughter has run way as well and is with adults. The police won't help me. They are lazy and worthless. I've had to call the DA's office and complain and I have had to take the law into my own hands and go into peoples homes unannounced and look for my kid. My daughter was being home schooled and after about 6 months of staying out of trouble, I let her get a job. She had stopped coming home after work and ran away to her adult friends house and is there now. She has created a new myspace page and the police won't do anything to help in any way. If you find an answer to your problems let me know. I'd love to know what I can do to get her home and press charges on the adults for contributing to a minor child. She has come home in the past high on pills and drunk on alcohol. Also, the police have brought her home after she has snuck out of the house on many occasions in the middle of the night. Wish I had answers for you.



answers from New York on

Dear M.,
I can feel your pain. But like other moms have suggested, you need to go the court and file a PINS petition. But before doing it I would tell your daughter so. Why? Because she needs to realized that she's still under age and that only you and your husband are responsible of her, nor her friends, nor anyone and if something happen to her, the authorities will come and get you. So if she wants freedom it will have to be under the Family Court terms. "NO options"
For the sake of your daughter you have to use what is called "tough love". My sister went through this. And she had a lot of problems with her son and the law before going to the court and file the PINS petition.
Get some therapy. It will help you and will give you the strength you will need on the process.



answers from New York on

My heart goes out to you. The first thing I would say you should do is go see a counselor at your church, if you don't have a church find out with your friends of a good church you can go and get some counsel. Pray, pray for your daughter and for yourself. Ask God to give you wisdom in how to deal with her and her issues and to open your eyes to see if you've missed anything and what to do about it. Ask God to protect her where she is at, to bring godly people to her path that can bring a different perspective to her and show her the right path. Pray that strongholds be broken and she'll be willing to return home without a fight. Pray, pray and pray some more.
As you are praying call the police and have them pick her up. When she comes home sit down and talk with her, write down things that you won't be able to compromise and what you would be willing to compromise. Make sure she understands that no matter how ugly things might get you are still her mother and you love her unconditionally, even when you don't agree and even when sometimes you don't like her (because of her ugly attitude).
Take her to therapy with a professional therapist or maybe with a counselor from your/the church. If things don't start changing around and you have no other choice, then file for the PINS petition.
You have every right to be mad, this is your daughter! But don't be mad at her and take your frustration and anger on her!!! She needs you to listen to her and understand her; even if you don't agree with her.
I'll be praying for you.



answers from New York on

My children are young but I worked for social services in NJ. Here when the police picked up a runaway social services also got involved (and often referred the family for some kind of family counseling or some similar service). Also there was a family crisis phone line that went to the family court office (they helped families sort out what options and services were available and fit the situation best). I would check with the police, social services and/or family court and see what options you have. Once you know you can try talking to her one more time and see if she has calmed down and will come home. If she doesn't want to come home you know the options and what the next step will be. I have sometimes talked to teens and explained the other options for them other than home are not very good (foster care, group homes, residential treatment,etc) and had them choose to go home. But it may be a lot harder to do that calmly as a parent. Once you get her home do some kind of family counseling. If you go through social service or family court then you may have access to program that way (in case you can't afford it or it is not covered by insurance, etc.)


answers from Dallas on

Call the police and make her come home. She isn't a legal adult. I left my parent's house when I was 17 and got pregnant. I moved back in with them after a couple of weeks. She needs to come home and be forced to go to school.



answers from New York on

I am so so sorry. Definitely get counseling for yourself. You can learn to maintain a peaceful life in the midst of your daughter's chaos.



answers from Albany on

I haven't looked at the other answers yet, but after reading your question, I decided to summarize our last year with our defiant 16 year old son. I wrote it up and blogged it at It's too long to post here, so please feel free to look if you want more input. Basically, we went to counseling and tried every trick in the book to see what would work. Finally, we are deciding to let him learn his own life's lessons, while our life's lessons are to be sure to work on our marriage and our lives, while loving him.

Good luck!



answers from New York on

Maybe there are some legal steps you can take to get her home since she is still a minor.



answers from Binghamton on

Talk to a therapist yourself. Find someone you trust who works with families and teens, then explore your options with him or her. Ask about peer group therapy, a new approach that can have very interesting results. I am sure with some support you can find an approach that works for you, even if that ends up being letting her go and make her own mistakes. The hardest thing to remember is that the only person you can control is yourself. Break the pattern yourself and see what happens.



answers from Buffalo on

all i can say is i am sorry that you and your husband are going through this nightmare. as a kid i did the same thing at 16. i left home to stay at a girlfriends house b/c of a boy. i was there for about a month until i came home. leaving was the best thing for me. first you need to get your daughter back. she will prob be kicking and screaming but if the police need to bring her home then so be it. if she is missing school for a long period of time the school can get her and put her in a special school for misbehaved kids and she will be taken out of your home. the best thing to do is go to the police station and see what can be done she is a minor. your daughter is lost right now and needs her parents to take charge and fix her life. she doesnt see it right now and may say i hate you and i dont want to live here anymore, but you are her parents and you need to do whats best. good luck.



answers from Glens Falls on

Hey i am sorry you are going through this. i can't say much because my mother actually kicked me out at 16. all i can say is that i am 23 and let that girl figure out how hard the real world is and she will be begging to come home as soon as she is out there. she will realize that there is nothing like a home where mommy and daddy are going to be there to fall on. not saying you are push overs or whatever, just saying that i know even as much as me and my mom faught i was always able to fall onto her if i needed to cry vent or whatever. moms are forever. i am a mom now to a girl and a boy. i know that moms are there no matter what. let her learn. i know it sounds bad but what else do you have. if you push too much you will just push her further. live and learn live and learn. i still live and learn. dont you? im sorry im sure it is hard. my son is only 3 and a half and he even makes me cry sometimes but i just breathe and think to myself that he will learn, live and learn. just hope she learns before it is too late. i know that is probably on your mind too but she is still young. steer her right and hope she listens. i wish i could be more help. i would love to start an org. or something that would let me talk to young girls who want to go the wrong way, ive seen it first hand and think i could help. maybe some day. good luck hope she smartens up soon for you. it may just be a quick phase. sorry again.



answers from New York on

I don't know which state you're in, but in New York we have something called P.I.N.S (Persons in Need of Supervision). You must go to Family Court to obtain this. This is a petition from parents to the courts asking for help because the parent (s) can no longer control and/or supervise their child (ren). Good Luck! And don't be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. You are still responsible for her if she's underage. Keep that in mind. If anything happens to her, the authorities will come for you and your husband, not her friend nor that friend's mother.



answers from Rochester on

You need to file a PINS petition. And get the courts involved, use some tough love she needs to know there is some boundries. Do not cave just to convince her to come home because that will not solve the problems it will merely raise the stakes to get a rise out of you. It will also lead her to make worse decisions.



answers from Tulsa on

My daughter ran away so many times and the police went and got her every time. The mother is harboring a runaway and can get into a lot of trouble. She became involved the moment she didn't call you to come get your daughter and let her move in. Go to their house and tell them they do not have your permission to have your daughter. I usually had a police officer nearby to reinforce the law. I can tell you from experience she will run off again until the issues are resolved....she cannot hold the power here and have the power to threaten you with stuff. You need to let her have some control over things so that when she is an adult she can make good decisions but she needs the freedom to make choices now where the consequences are not detrimental to her safety and well being.


answers from New York on

she is a run away. Report her.

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