SD has run away...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by LostSF, Jul 12, 2010.

  1. LostSF

    LostSF Guest

    Well, it's happened. To this point, SD (age 14)'s behaviour has been (in my humble opinion) somewhere on the line between rebellious teen and someone with more serious behavioural issues. But I think we may have just crossed that line.

    wife let SD back on the Internet this week, under the condition that wife be allowed to check her accounts on occasion to make sure she's being safe. wife agreed, but made the mistake last night of leaving a Facebook chat between her and one of the guys in her class open when she logged out.

    As fate would have it wife decided to check her accounts while at work this morning, and found the chat in which SD told the guy she "swallows."

    SD called wife at work later today to ask if she could go to the park with (another) guy from class. wife didn't respond, because she wanted to get home to talk to SD about her Facebook chat.

    When wife got home they chatted, SD was furious and angry about it (as usual) and went outside to sit on the front porch. Next time wife looked, SD was gone.

    About 10 minutes later SD texted wife to say "gone to the park with (the guy)." wife told her to come home, because she didn't ask permission. SD agreed, and said she was on her way home.

    When she wasn't home after 20 minutes, wife texted her again to tell her to speed it up or she'd be grounded. SD said she wasn't coming home. We couldn't tell from her text if that meant "ever" or "right now", so I'm still not sure if she's planning to come home tonight or not.

    wife went in the car to find her, but that was 40 minutes ago and I haven't heard from either one. That's not a good sign, and I'm picturing wife driving the streets trying to find her, getting more and more upset and worried as she goes.

    I've had this feeling for a few months now... that things were building and that SD was going to reach the "screw you, I don't care what you say or do" point. And now that she's reached it, I'm pretty sure there will be no going back for her.

    But neither wife or I really know what we're supposed to do at this point. wife's planning to ground her, take away her cell phone and Internet priviledges, but I think that's only going to make her more angry and rebellious.

    Any suggestions on what to do, assuming she comes home or we find her tonight?

    UPDATE: wife just called and said that she hasn't been able to find SW, but that SW texted her to say "Don't worry I'm safe and I love you." SD had previously told wife if she ever ran away, that's what she was going to say. wife replied and then SD sent another text saying "Sorry, my phone's going to die soon, gotta go." Really not sure what we're supposed to do now. Call the police?
    Lasted edited by : Jul 12, 2010
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I would call the police, you'll probably just file a report at this point but it starts a paper trail. Monitor her Facebook and email if you're able. See if you can find out who she's texting and calling (check online through your wireless provider). Call her friend's parents to let them know she is missing and you would appreciate a call if she's spotted. Does SD see a psychiatrist or therapist? If so, put in a call. Find the boy she was supposed meet and talk to his parents (don't accuse, just let them know she's a runaway)because he's your last contact with SD. It seems like overkill but SD must be made to know how serious running is and it won't be tolerated.

    Oh yeah, give wife a {{{hug}}}.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think you have to call the police before she gets too far.
  4. Farmwife

    Farmwife Member

    How totally scary and frustrating!!

    I ditto calling police for a paper trail. I would also make sure to push charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor for anyone of age who is with her when she is found. That is a sure fire way to make sure she is discouraged from going to hide out with him ever again. That way if the guy is not her age he learns a very valuable lesson about steering clear of your daughter.

    Also, for in the future...does your cell phone provider provide any special services? If I wanted to pay the extra $10 month my difficult child's phone can also track him. Of course I would never tell him if I got the service. If he ran away he would always just be so amazed when the cops found him so quickly. He isn't bright enough to figure it out either.
  5. LostSF

    LostSF Guest

    Well, much has happened since my last post.

    wife got home about 20 minutes later and hadn't found or seen SD after driving all over town. When wife was almost home, SD had texted her to say "I'm not coming home tonight." When wife asked where she was staying for the night, the reply was "In a ditch, LOL."

    I was telling wife we needed to call the police (thanks for the confirmation everyone), when SD texted again. She said she was going to spend the night at her Birth Father's (who lives several miles away). wife asked SD if she was with her Dad now, and SD said "Yes."

    So wife calls her ex (who is an abusive person, so it's never a pleasant conversation), and of course he hasn't heard from SD. wife tells him what's been going on, and Birth Father says he will call SD and call us back.

    He calls back a minute later to say he has a message from SD asking him to come pick her up. Again, as fate would have it Birth Father was only a short drive away, but he was on his motorcycle and only had one helmet. Long story short, he shows up to pick up SD on his bike, without a helmet for her. He calls wife to tell her "everything's okay, she's coming home with me", and when wife asks how SD will get there without a helmet, Birth Father says "it's okay, don't worry about it."

    So wife insists that if SD is going home with Birth Father tonight, that she will drive her there. So that's what she's doing right now, driving SD to stay with her Birth Father.

    Now SD said she only wants to stay for a couple of days, but I guess we'll see. She's said many times that she hates her Birth Father, and avoids spending time with him as much as possible. But he has a way of manipulating people to do what he wants, and I'm sure he's going to be trying very hard to get her to move in with him. He did the same thing with SS -- made him a bunch of promises (that he never kept) to get SS to move in, and although SD is a little too smart to fall for that, I wouldn't be completely surprised if she agreed to live with him indefinitely just to keep punishing wife.

    Now one of the things SD wanted to know was if she would be grounded when she got home, implying that she wasn't coming home if she was going to be grounded. Right or wrong, I told wife that the answer should be no (that she wouldn't be grounded), and that wife and SD would talk about what happened and how they could improve things when SD was ready to talk. So that is what wife told SD.

    So now what? We have been taking a firmer approach with SD for the past few months, in the hope that she would stop the lying, sneaking around, etc. But she's played the trump card -- if we ground her, I'm pretty sure she'll just leave again.

    So how do you deal with a 14 y.o. child who has shown she's willing to run away if she doesn't get her way? Do you stick to the rules, or do you negotiate a bit (giving her a little more freedom, even though she's done nothing to prove we can trust her)? Is there anything we should say or do with her when she gets home to reduce the chances of this happening again?
    Lasted edited by : Jul 13, 2010
  6. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    I'm curious. How old is the boyfriend?

    I'm wondering whether the boyfriend might walk away if he were afraid you would (could?) file charges against him? It is one angle to explore.

    I'm new here so take my ideas with a grain of salt but I'd go to the police.

    Praying for her safe return.
  7. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    First, I am glad that SD has been found, safe and sound! (whew!)

    Second, you have asked the million-dollar question....what to do?

    in my humble opinion--you cannot just give up on the rules...because if she knows that running away will get her what she wants, then that's what she'll do every time she doesn't like the rules.

    What we have done in our household, is to call the police....EVERY SINGLE TIME. And yes, she is grounded until....

    Until what?

    Well, until we feel she can be trusted with a priviledge. So we give her small things and see how she does. Can she walk to the store to buy a newspaper and come straight home? Can she use the computer without being inappropriate? Can she...whatever?

    You are the parent. It is your house.

    If she continues to defy your rules, eventually the police reports will catch up with her--one way or another.

    So sorry you are dealing with this. It definitely stinks.

    Welcome to the club...
  8. Bean

    Bean Member

    Call her in to the police. She ran away. They will document it. But also, I was told not just to do this for the child, but for your own liability. If you call the police and document that she has run away at xxx time, then what she does during that time was not under your "supervision." I don't know if this is how it is in all states/cities, but I was told I should call my daughter in EVERY time she ran away. It might also be the start of something that gets you some help or assistance from your city/county/state. If she thinks she can just take off and run the show by texting, there's not end to it.

    Sorry for your situation. No fun.
  9. jal

    jal Member

    I'm sorry but I am floored by this.

    You just rewarded her for running away AND you let a 14 year old girl stay at her boyfriend's home. I'm curious as to how old the boyfriend is too.

    I would have called the police as soon as she ran.

    She will probably pull this everytime since you have not given her any consequences. No grounding, wife picking her up to drive her safely to a boys house for the night? Her actions were not OK, its not like she took a walk to get some air. She is 14 and you are letting her call the shots. Stepping on egg shells because you can't stand that she treats you like crud. She has shifted the balance of power in the home and it's time for you and wife to take it back.

    She should be on lock down, no phone, computer...totally grounded and if she runs...Call the police.

    If you are seriously going to let a 14 year old stay with the boyfriend, I would hope your wife would get her on birth control STAT.
  10. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I think this child need more rules not less. I would go and get her from her boyfriend house. Depending on your state, if she has sex it is rape regardless of his age. And your wife is now an accessory to that crime for driving her there to spend the night. Her world needs to become very small - school, therapy, home. If she doesn't have a therapist/psychiatrist, I would find one immediately. If she is threatening to put herself in danger if you don't give into her demands, take her straight to the ER and ask for a pysch admit. SD has raised the stakes far beyond acceptable.
  11. LostSF

    LostSF Guest

    Sorry... by "boyfriend" I meant SD's birth father, not a boyfriend. We would never take her to stay at a boyfriend's house for the night under any circumstances.

    (I thought "boyfriend" was one of the accepted acronymns, but I guess that was from another forum... sorry for the confusion. I'll update my other posts to make it clearer)

    Everything I've read on running away from the "experts" on running away (e.g., missing child and pediatric websites) suggests that we need to go easy on punishment when she gets home, focus on communication and hearing the reasons why she ran. They also suggest that we need to be willing to negotiate the rules a little bit... not letting her do whatever she wants, but giving her some feeling of control (which we've taken away to a large degree because of other issues).

    Do people here think that's the wrong approach?
  12. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    boyfriend= boyfriend
    Dad = Dad
    Taking her to her dad's is a great idea. She's with a parent and hopefully being supervised.

    I'm sure everyone has their own opinion and experience with this. With Kanga, she had no interest in communicating with us and would love the chance to 'negotiate' to see how much she could get from us. in my humble opinion kids with mental illness need firm limits and consequences. Will the firm limits cause her to comply? Nope. But she will know that the adults in her world will not tolerate criminal and/or immoral behavior. Yes, this will be a lot harder on your wife (and you) then simply giving in for the sake of keeping the peace.

    I'm going to back now and read your previous posts. I'm not sure of your whole story. It would help alot if you could create a signature with the basic details (see mine at the bottom of my posts). Go to User CP and you'll find the signature section there.
  13. jal

    jal Member

    Phew...I feel better now that that's cleared up.

    Everything I've read on running away from the "experts" on running away (e.g., missing child and pediatric websites) suggests that we need to go easy on punishment when she gets home, focus on communication and hearing the reasons why she ran. They also suggest that we need to be willing to negotiate the rules a little bit... not letting her do whatever she wants, but giving her some feeling of control (which we've taken away to a large degree because of other issues).

    In my honest opinion that what's wrong with kids today. I have not been in your shoes as my difficult child is only 7, but someday I may be and I might view this differently, but I just think it breeds disrespect and a thumbing of authority. There has to be consequences for not following the rules. There is a time to negotiate rules, but not right after the breaking of the rules. I agree with what I said before and what JJJ said, her world needs to become very small and if not just because of running away, because of the nature of her computer correspondence and her behavior towards you.

    Like I said she already has the power, giving her more control is not something you should be doing.
  14. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    From your first post...

    You cannot force her to make good choices. Mom can, however, make the results of bad choices as unpleasant as possible. A clear "If...Then" set of rules may help everyone.

    If you are inappropriate on the internet, then you lose the privilege of using the internet for one week.
    If you leave the house without permission, then you are grounded for one week. (Define grounded: no phone, no internet, no tv, stay in room except meals, etc)

    Or you can work it the other way

    If you are appropriate on the Internet for your 30 minutes today, then you may go on the Internet for 30 minutes tomorrow.
    If you stay at home/school/where you belong for 6 days, then you may go out with friends for 3 hours on Saturday to an approved location.

    Spoken as a step-daughter whose step-dad joined my life when I was 11, there is nothing you can do to make her like you. Your mere existence is proof-positive that her family is screwed up, that marriage is not happily-ever-after. Therefore, there is no guarantee that you will stick around, so why bother with you? If she can get you to leave sooner rather than later, why not? (This were all my thoughts at that age. Just to give you hope - my step dad walked me and both of my sister's down the aisle when we each got married. It does get better.)

    One thing I think is key is that you do not try and act like her parent. That is where the written list of rules and consequences help. If mom creates the list and presents it to SD, possibly in a counseling session, then those are the rules, you do not have to make up any rules/consequences. If she breaks rule #3, simply point out to her that she broke mom's rule #3 and the consequence is X.

    Is it possible to get her into a YMCA or CSO overnight camp for a couple of weeks, sometimes a break can really help. It will give you and mom respite and a chance to develop the rules (even though these have to be mom's rules, she will likely value your input in what rules are most important -- the list should only have 3-5 rules). It will also give SD a chance to relax away from the tension and hopefully away from any bad influences in the community.

    (My step-dad was a huge part of my upbringing, I just never knew it until I was an adult because he always worked through my mom. Step dad's can be a huge influence but it does require the patience of a saint and the ability to stay in the background. I think the fact that you are actively searching for help for your family is wonderful and bodes very well for the future.)
  15. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    With the abuse issues, I don't know if this is possible. But it would be great if Mom could approach Dad and get him on board with just those 3-5 rules and their consequences. If she has those main rules everywhere, she is less likely to be able to manipulate.
  16. LostSF

    LostSF Guest

    Thanks everyone for your good wishes and suggestions. Here's my replies.

    1) I've thought about putting a description of the basic issues in my signature as others have done, but I'm not sure what to say. SD has never been tested or seen a psychiatrist, only a couple of counsellors (who both didn't suggest anything in terms of a mental health disorder)

    I have suggested to wife that SD may have a conduct disorder based on what I have read, but wife says no, she doesn't. wife works in social services and deals with children regularly, and says that she's worked with children who have conduct disorders and other mental health issues and that SD isn't one of them (because she no longer loses control, goes into rages, break things, etc.... although she did when she was younger).

    But I feel that her current behaviour (constant lying, manipulating, showing no empathy for anyone else, cutting herself (which she no longer does, but was doing last year) and some other reckless behaviours) suggests that there is some kind of mental health issue, but at the end of the day its wife's decision.

    So I'm just not sure what to say in my signature... any suggestions?

    2) We've been doing the "rules/consequences" approach for a few months now. There were consequences before, but we're trying to make them more consistent and predictable for SD. But it's difficult. She just finished being grounded for 2 weeks (no going out with friends, no cell phone, no Internet) because she lied to wife. She also just finished a multi-month grounding from the Internet, because she shared personal contact info (including our address) with strangers and was using it in other inappropriate ways. Both of these groundings ended last Monday -- so she lasted a week.

    And while she was grounded and in the last week, she continued to tell lies. Nothing major, but lies nonetheless.

    Under the rules, that would mean she would be grounded again, but here's the problem: she has made it very clear she has no intention of ever stopping with the lies. No matter what consequences there are, she says she's not going to stop.

    So what are we supposed to do -- ground her forever? If we stuck with the rules we set up for her, that's what would happen -- she would be grounded for months on end, and I have no doubt now that she would be sneaking out whenever she could. We went through all this with the Internet - even though she wasn't allowed on it for many months, she refused to accept responsibility for her behaviour and to commit to changing.

    SD would rather live with the consequences and then try and find ways to cheat the system (like going on the Internet at school) than to learn from her mistakes and change her behaviour.

    If we ground her for leaving the house, she WILL sneak out/run away again. I can almost guarantee it. And this time she may not tell anyone where's she's gone.

    I'm just hoping we can find some way to avoid the "she runs away, we call the cops, she laughs it off and refuses to change and things just get worse and worse" cycle that I'm seeing ahead of us. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING seems to really work with SD when it comes to consequences, and I'm certain that having the cops bring her home, getting a criminal record, etc. wouldn't phase her either. She just doesn't care.

    3) I understand that giving her control here is a mistake... but I just feel that tightening the reins is a mistake too. If we do that, I'm pretty sure she will either end up a) running away and not telling us where she is, or b) going to live with her (abusive) dad full-time. Either is a fate we don't want her to have, and so I'm hoping we can find another way.

    I think the idea of writing the rules and consequences out are a good one. But I think it's going to be important to make sure she agrees to the rules, and maybe even suggests the consequence (assuming it's a reasonable one). I've heard of this working well with the "family contract" approach, and maybe if she feels like she's part of the process she'll be more likely to follow the rules. (I hope?)

    The one problem I do have with this approach is that you can't make a rule for everything, and if you limit yourself to 5 or even 10, there's a lot of possible behaviours that won't be on the list. So I'm curious about what people who use this approach do when their child breaks a rule that isn't on the list?

    4) As for my role as SD, I think I'm doing pretty much as you've suggested JJJ. I did for a while (over a year ago) try and play a role in the discipline, but a therapist suggested that wasn't appropriate so we stopped. So now wife does all the discipline, and I just sit in the background, offering suggestions and opinions. But SD even resents me doing that, and even though wife and I have such discussions in private, SD can tell by the way wife talks that she's spoken to me and is sharing my opinions as well as her own. I've suggested that I take even more of a back seat, but wife really values my opinion (she has some anger issues of her own, and I help keep her responses balanced). So even though SD benefits from my opinions and suggestions (in terms of more reasonable responses), she still resents it.

    5) We have signed SD up for a three week counsellor-in-training program through the city. She seems excited about doing it, and we're happy because it will keep her busy for almost half the summer while wife is at work. We would have loved to have signed her up for some kind of overnight camp, but money is tight right now as I am laid off. We had hoped between the program, her two week grounding at the start of the summer and wife taking a week off of work that we would be able to keep her out of trouble. So much for that. :-(

    6) I will suggest to wife that she share the rules and consequences with SW's dad, but we both know that in the end he'll just do whatever he wants. He dismisses every concern wife has ever shared with him about the kids, and because he is a chronic liar and manipulator himself he doesn't view those behaviours as concerns in the kids. He's made it very clear that he is much more concerned about himself than he is about the welfare of his kids, so it's been very difficult to get him to agree to any common rules between the two households.

    But I'll suggest it, if for no other reason than we can say "well, we tried" if he choses to not use the same rules in his house.

    So I know the general opinion here is that we need to keep the rules/consequences in place, including for running away (i.e., ground her for doing so). But deep down I know that if we go into a battle of wills with this child, one way or the other we're going to lose. Because I'm only her SD (and am not very close to her), I would survive if she chose to live with her Dad, or even if she chose to run away. But my wife is another matter, and it broke my heart to have to hold her last night while she sobbed about her daughter. It's definitely not the first time I've had to do that and I know it's not the last, but I know if SD leaves for good it's going to break wife's heart and that in turn will break mine.
    Lasted edited by : Jul 13, 2010
  17. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I am not giving you a hard time, here...

    But as the parents--you must NOT enage in a battle of much as you must draw your line in the sand.

    To share with you:

    In our home we have several rules which WILL result in a call to the police

    1) NO Violence! (This means no putting your hands on anyone at any time for any reason. This rule probably not be too big a deal in your home as it sounds like SD does not have any siblings she is beating on.)

    2) NO threats! (Verbal, written "just joking"--it doesn't matter...we do not threaten people in this household.)

    3) NO Stealing

    4) NO leaving without permission (whether from home, school, neighbors house....if we don't know exactly where difficult child is--we make a report)

    As for other things? It's like I mentioned in my other post--we give her a little. If she cannot handle it--we take it away.

    Remember--you do NOT owe your SD a computer, a cell phone, designer clothes or a social life. If she cannot be bothered following your household rules, it should be no skin off your nose that she cannot use the interent, or call a friend or whatever.

    You cannot live in constant fear of your SD "upping the ante" every time she doesn't like something. And she will if it works...

    Next time, she will run farther....stay away up with unsavory people...etc etc etc

    You must decide that is NOT OK--and you must stick to your guns!
  18. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, I personally would make the list very general. Keep it about safety & respect for family.

    For example, if the rule is 'respect your home and family members'. It is broad enough to cover a ton of areas. Then as you feel disrespected you can embellish on the rule. So, if she swears in front of wife and she feels that is disrespectful. They can have the discussion about swearing being on the 'respect' rule and come to agreements about it during this discussion. No punishment this time, but if it happens again, since it is clearly part of the rule - punishment.

    My main concern for this child is her safety. She has made some risky choices with the internet. Did she know this person she went to meet? We have had a couple kids on the site in real dangerous situations from internet meetings. So, rule #1 would be 'I must know where you are & whom you are with at all times."
  19. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Children DO NOT decide where they live. She lives where the court order says she lives. And, as a minor, she has no standing to go to court. Dad would have to petition the court for a judge to even look at changing her residential parent. Your wife will not be doing her any favors if she lets her get away with dangerous behavior because she is scared to lose her role as primary parent. Your SD has less then 4 short years to get helped.

    While your wife might be great at her job, she should not be trying to diagnosis or rule out diagnosis for her own child. While I agree with her that it doesn't sound like Conduct Disorder (which is a big, heavy diagnosis), there is clearly something wrong. Children without mental illness do not cut themselves. That is/was a HUGE red flag and it sounds like your wife missed it.

    I would push your wife as gently but firmly as possible to have a complete neuropsychologist evaluation done. Maybe she will understand the argument, that clearly something is wrong and that a full evaluation will help everyone with knowing what direction to go with helping her. This could be depression that is showing as anger, it could be drug use, it could be a response to sexual abuse that you don't know could be so many things that only a full evaluation could get to the bottom of this.
  20. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Ditto what has already been said, but I'd also like to say this...

    Right now, your SD is in control of the situation and knows it. She ran away, and went to daddy's to further manipulate the situation when she realized she would be in trouble... If she doesn't get grounded for running away right now, what's going to happen in a year, when her demands/wants are bigger then meeting a boy at the park for an hour, and she doesn't get what she wants?? She WILL up the ante.

    If you enforce the consequences now, and she runs again, she is learning that you won't sit by and take it, whether it ultimately changes her behavior immediately or not, she is learning where the boundaries are. The hope will be that eventually, she will get tired of living that kind of life and make that change.

    But if you don't enforce that consequence, she will never have the opportunity to learn that lesson, and without the lesson, there won't be change.

    You don't want her to have a life with a rap sheet and a record and police involvement or daddy, but that's not your choice to make...those things are HER decisions made by her actions.

    Some kids have to take the hard road. I'm sorry yours is one of them.

    My difficult child 1 was grounded half of his teenage years. He left hating me. Not so sure he still doesn't partially hate me, but he's also realized that I wasn't all wrong and he's making his way so far. And THAT is the goal.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010