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Mom Afraid That Rebellious Teenager Will Run Away

Question:

My husband and I got divorced last year. Our daughter lived with him at first, but gave him such a difficult time that she now lives with me. Now she is behaving poorly with me. I have taken her phone away, but she is still rebellious. Her grandmother recently passed away, and I know that she deeply feels the loss. But her bad behavior is beginning to affect her sisters. I am afraid that she will run away and I don’t know what to do. Is there somewhere I can take her to receive discipline help?

 

Answer:

Now more than ever it is important to have house rules and to issue either positive or negative consequences based on your child’s behavior. You’ve already done this when you took her phone away. You must be consistent. She may be feeling insecure dealing with the two recent losses in her life. Thus, she needs her parents to be as consistent as possible right now even though she rebels.  

If you and her father are communicating, you need to make sure that you are both on the same parenting page as far as discipline is concerned. If your daughter will not sit down and open up to you, or is showing signs of teenage depression, it may be beneficial to take her to a counselor – possibly a grief counselor. 

If she does open up to you, validate her feelings. She can’t help how she feels, but she may need help with how to act appropriately on those feelings.

It is important to communicate to your daughter that running away from home is not a good option. The dangers of the streets, lack of money, missed school days, bad weather and lack of shelter are just a few good reasons to remain at home. 

If she does ever leave home without your permission, call the police so the law in your area can keep a lookout for her as well. Tell her that you want her to call the Boys Town Hotline (1-800-448-3000) if she ever feels like running away. There are many crisis counselors here who would be happy to talk to her.

Another suggestion is to talk to her when she is having a good day and share with her how you are feeling. Children do not need to know all of the adult details related to a divorce, but sometimes it can strengthen your relationship when your child realizes that you, too, have feelings.  

Look online at  www.centering.org. This website offers numerous books on grief. Boys Town's  www.yourlifeyourvoice.org is a website just for teens. There are many articles under “family life” that she can read. She can also email a crisis counselor. 

The key is getting her to open up to someone. Just venting can do wonders.

 

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