Dear Kim,

I have a friend whose daughter frequently runs away from home.  The family is always putting out Facebook pleas seeking help finding their daughter.  She eventually comes back home.  She stays put for a little while, then she disappears again.  Her family is always devastated.  I’ve spoken to the girl.  She’s 16 and unhappy in her home situation.  She doesn’t like the rules her parents impose and thinks she’s treated unfairly.  She says that when she’s gone, she’s with friends and is safe.  How can I support my friend during this very trying time?


Junction City

Dear Alexandra,

I am always pleasantly surprised how often people reach out to help their friends.  Your wanting to help them isn’t a bad thing.  I just find it curious that it’s not the parents or the daughter seeking advice on ways to cope at home.  Hmmm, could that be part of the problem?

Seriously though, somewhere between 1 – 3 million kids run away from home each year.  The reason this young woman runs away from home is probably deeper than she implies.  You said she doesn’t like the rules and feels she’s treated unfairly.  From my own parenting adventures, I would say that most kids feel that way at one time or another.

It’s speculation on my part but since we’re talking rules and fairness, there could be a bit of a power struggle between parent and child.  If the parents are allowing the daughter to have a revolving door at home, she clearly has the upper hand.  Mom and dad need to establish the terms for this young woman to come back into the house.  We all understand consequences.  It might not stop certain behaviors, but mom and dad need to gain control of what happens before allowing her back home.  They can then focus on teaching problem solving skills, so she is able to cope with whatever is challenging her.

Now, how do you support mom and dad during this process?  I’m certain it would be horrible to not know your child’s whereabouts.  Continue to be a good friend.  They need all the love and support that you can provide.  Listen to them and acknowledge the struggle is real.  Most of all, practice good boundaries within your role as a friend.  You can’t fix this for them.  All you can do is be there.

Have a question?  Ask Kim!