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cathy, mental health counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1436
Experience:  MS. MSEd
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A month ago, our 15 year old adopted daughter ran away recently

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A month ago, our 15 year old adopted daughter ran away recently and was gone for 5 days. She blamed me (her father) for running away, but has never given a satisfactory explanation. She is currently staying with an aunt, but my wife and I are at our wits end and are lost for answers and a way to move forward. Up til the time she ran away (not the forst time) there was no sign of a problem. No conflict of any significance and I felt we had a solid father-daughter relationship.But it emerged that there has been a pattern of truancy, lying, theft and a secret relationship with a boy. I blame myself for a lot of this because I bought her mobile phone for her birthday and it would seem this is when the trouble started. She is using it like a weapon against me an her mum. I want to take it off her and smash it to pieces, but I realsise that it's not the 'gun' that is dangerous, but the person holding it. She is civil ro me on the surface, but there is no warmth behind her words or actions. I just dont feel the love any more (if there was any in the first place) I am so totally out of my depth and am struggling with my emotions. I absolutely adore her and don't want to live without her, but I feel the only way to solve the problem is to send her away - for good. Please help

Hi and thank you for writing JA. I have read your post and first let me say how sorry I am that you find yourself in the situation you describe. Further (and know this will provide you with little comfort) know that there are many parents experiencing these problems with a child. I see many families in my practice with stories very much like yours. The good news is that most of the time we can work things out quite well. The bad news is that at times this can be an uncomfortable process. You do not say if you have tried family counseling but certainly when a runaway and truancy occur this is the way to go. A professional can open up previously closed lines of communication and broker a truce long enough for some sane game rules to be established. Some times we make ourselves the "bad guys" and establish limits for teenagers thereby taking pressure off the parents. In this case I can see a number of ways this might done, but only with a full history and a sit down face to face would I make a recommendation. To do this effectively you would also need the full cooperation and support of the aunt with whom she is currently living. You also do not mention whether your local Children and Family Services has become involved in your lives. This would be an extremely helpful piece of information here as often these agencies will set parameters for families about how much control a parent has while the child is living in another household. Can you share this with us? Finally, until we hear back from you again, just a highly personal clinical recommendation and that is not to put blame into the equation. Your guilt over the gifting of her phone to her is neither relevant or helpful to you and your family. You did nothing wrong here by giving her a phone. It sounds as if she abused that privilege (as often teenagers do) and that is a reflection of your judgment as a parent. You believed, that at age 15, your daughter was responsible enough to handle her phone. All that she has done is prove that she is not yet mature or responsible enough to make her own choices in a rational way. I regret that many teenagers make poor choices for themselves but your judgment is simply not part of this equation. Please then do not torture yourself over this. I can well see how much pain this is causing. Let me know if have considered counseling and if not perhaps I can help you to find someone who will help you. Also, please let me know if any "agencies" are involved in the matter and I will help you to navigate those systems to the benefit of all. You have time to consider all your options and make an informed choice that will be best for all of you so let us see what we can come up with here. Would you also let me know if you have other children and what their ages might be? Thank you for the additional information so I can best help you from here and please accept my warm wishes on such a difficult matter. Cathy

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