Reader question – ‘My 14 yo keeps leaving home’

RM asks: I have a 14-year-old daughter who keeps leaving home. She is in a social network with girls 16/17 years old and moving from family to family. This time she is stating she is being abused by me (mother) and brothers aged 16 and 20. Of course this is all lies to get families to feel sorry for her. Also she is saying she is 15. She clearly wants to spend weekends with these teenagers partying and drinking. They are not from her school. She also has frequently not been attending her private school and not associating with kids from school, as she no longer really has friends within her own age group.

We live in a country town, and she travels by bus 45 mins to school. She was purposely beginning to miss the bus, so she could be where these new friends are. When she was coming home she would be fine for a few days, but wasn’t happy with having any rules at home and she would start with the verbal abuse which would be out of control until she left this time five days ago. I have found out where she is through schools and Facebook. When I contact parents where she is staying and explain the situation they are very understanding and they have tried to encourage my daughter to go home, but she says she will never go home.

We have a very stable home environment. I don’t know what to do next. I’m afraid I’ve lost my daughter at 14. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


If you have some advice for RM, please leave a comment below.



  1. I don’t have much advice sorry but I did know a girl (my daughter’s friend) who behaved the same although she was a little bit younger. Probably around 13 at the time. She used to always run away to other families and say she had fights with her mum. I knew her mum and the fights were just normal teenage stuff. For her it was just a phase and she grew out of it after about a year. I hope this is what happens with you. But I would say to talk to the school counsellor and get them on your side, they can help and talk to her at school. At least if you don’t know what is going on with her the school counsellor can help keep an eye and ear out. Good luck. It’s not easy I know.

  2. Hopefully the parents you have contacted will continue to encourage your daughter to return home. Perhaps you could find a family counselor to mediate on neutral ground.

  3. Hello, I can’t really offer any proper advice either, but I do hope you can sort this out. Might there be some family therapy available to you, and some counselling/psychologist help for you to manage this very demanding situation.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I’m going through a similar situation with my 14yr old daughter. We tried a Child Psychologist but she refused to co operate and even talk. She goes to a private school but is alwYs having the usual dramas with friends. Her verbal abuse has escalated to physical shoving, blocking and intimidating me. I feel our only option now is to send her to boarding school but my husband won’t consider it. He is away working a lot so doesn’t hv to deal with her 24/7. I’m spending a week away alone just to hv a break. She has had an idyllic upbringing, loving home, isn’t on drugs etc, doesn’t run away but she is making life intolerable at home and causing friction between my husband and myself. She is an expert liar and manipulator and has an attitude of entitlement that beggars belief. I am seeing a Ppsychologist myself to try and cope with my anxiety and stress from her. I have no answers, I feel I’ve tried everything, boundaries, communication, letting go a bit but nothing works. At this stage I feel that if she’s not sent to boarding school I will hv to leave the family home. Her father is very soft with her and she has him wrapped around her finger so not being a united front creates even more problems. I’ve spoken with her school and she behaves there, excellent academically. It’s just at home and mostly with me she is spiteful, abusive, demanding, moody and lazy. I’d appreciate anyone’s suggestions too!!

    • Hi Jennifer, Oh my, I’m reading this post, please tell me you have good new since this! I’m an older parent, my daughter is 14, second marriage…our other children are long gone. She is an absolute law unto herself. Tonight I was referred to as disgusting, now it’s just rolling off a duck’s back! Same as you Ian is away, but I also work long hours for the best part of the week. PLEASE can you give me some good feed back …

      • Rob . Just wanted to give you some hope. We’ve had 2 tumultuous years with our (now) 15 yr old. She was a ‘law unto herself’ – very disrespectful, disappearing at night, stealing, lying, won’t attend school, drugs, the lot. Depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide attempts. We eventually found out that she had been sexually assaulted (helped explain alot) … but her behaviour was still out of control and she was unwilling to attend counselling or get any kind of help. We (her parents) kept up hope, kept trying to understand, got counselling for ourselves, and even did an advanced communication course (very helpful – via ProjectAir – Uni of Woolongong – for carers of people with personality disorders but useful techniques for everyone). We kept communication channels open (our end!) and kept responding with love and reason and limits we could handle. We are finally seeing some light – she is attending counselling, is much more open with us and I feel that (at last) we are making some positive progress. So there IS hope – my suggestions – read up on parenting techniques, skills, and other communication strategies as much as you can – and look at your own approach to her. You can only change yourself and how you respond – what you do and say. I say things like : I love you, but i don’t like what you are doing. I think you could make a better choice … , etc. I have also worked hard on myself – at not reacting in a way that would escalate a situation – at remaining calm (when I really want to yell and stomp). and just emphasizing that I can help her if she wants my help… good luck.

        • Thank you so much, I very much appreciate this feedback. Unfortunately for me there was a twist, we were dealing with an outside force that of her 28 year old sister. I knew we were pushing ……uphill, just didn’t know the extent of it. ( thank you social media and mobile phones) My 14 yo learned how to feed what ever her older sister needed to hear, very quickly learned what would feed gratitude toward her, unfortunately at our expense. In a nutshell it all looks easy, ,but we have been trying, learning, fighting to right things all year against another force, one we thought loved us. She has since gone on a flight up north and not been returned. Seven weeks . Pretty much groomed and kidnapped in our eyes…

  5. This sounds really distressing for the whole family. Are you able to locate the source of supply for the drinks/drugs that are being provided to these teens? If it was me the police would be my next call. Providing these things to underagers is illegal and it sounds like they all need to be pulled up before it gets completely out of hand. Your 14 yo is obviously searching for something – family counselling may be a step towards sorting this out but only if she can be disengaged from this destructuve group she is linked to. Any child turning up at my home to stay the night only gets to when I have spoken to the parents – they all have their own homes you know. I hope you are able to rescue her.

  6. Hi i am in a very similar situation with my 13 year old daughter. She is currently living on the streets by choice or chouch surfing lying to who ever shes with not only about her age but about her home situation at my house and her fathers. I have reported her missing numerous times, each time
    The police finds her, i pick her up then she runs away again. Seems a bit like a merry go round. She has been arrested by the police numerous times but there isnt any real consequences from the police so she thinks shes invisible and can get away with anything. She has a warm loving home to come to when ever she likes with food, bed and shower, but she preffers to live on the streets with her street kid friends. I have even suggested that if she really doesnt want to come to my house, there are other family members who are happy to have her. She cant go to her dads house as she has physically assaulted his partner several times severely, yet nothing happens from a police point of view. She has a social worker and psychologist and the school counsellor is also involved. Nothing works. I am at a point where i am extremely heart broken knowing she sleeps on the streets but at the same time i have realised i need to look after myself so that i can be a good mother to my other children and a good wife. I have tried accessing every community help i can think of but everyones hands seem to be legally tied. Theres not much anyone can do until she wants to help herself. So my advise to you is look after yourself. Put yourself first! You dont want to let a shitty teenager who doesnt are about you steal years off your life. Stress is a killer. Be there for her when shes ready to recieve help, but in the mean time dont care about her more than she cares about you. Look after yourself.

  7. Reading all of the comments it was like reading about my 16 year old Daughter. As a father we have like yourselves endured a lot of heart ache and frustration. All I can say is stay strong, as hard as it may be and take each day as it comes. If you think to much into the future then your mind goes to places that are very dark. To be honest we do not know if we will get her back although we will never give up. We just cannot it is not in our DNA.

  8. We have had a similar situation for 18 months now. Our then 15 year old dropped out of school, took up with bad crowd, got criminal record etc, we used to get the police to return her but when she turned 16 they told us not to bother anymore. She has been living away at boyfriends homes now for the past year, we rarely see her, sometimes she says she wants to come home then changes her mind. We felt there was no help for us. We are a loving normal family, she has a younger brother who is hurting and missing his sister. She seems to have no empathy for us, it destroys us and takes it toll but we just carry on. It has been the hardest time of my life. I agree with others in that you cant put your life on hold waiting for the change, after youve tried everything. All you can do is hope she comes back one day and realises the mistakes that have been made. There is a big gulf between us now and the longer she is away the wider it becomes. Its like being bereaved. Nice to know there are other going through the same. Stay strong.

  9. I had a similar situation with my son when he was 15/16. He was heavily into whatever drugs were going, absent from school and couch surfing. As we had had no trouble with his older brother I was completely unprepared. Things were very bad for a number of years. When my son was around 18 I found the organisation Tough Love which provided weekly support and action plans for dealing with the situation step by step. Now my son is 20 and we have got to a situation where our relationship is much more loving and respectful. Also he has matured somewhat and has learnt that doing drugs heavily keeps him from doing exciting things with his life. I recommend that you give Tough Love a try. At least you will be able to connect with other parents in the same situation. Most of our children do come around with time 🙂

  10. I am sorry this has to happen to you. I have a 15-year old sister who lives with our elderly parents, she’s my only sibling and even though I live two states away from home because of work, I always try to get in touch with her through phone calls, Skype, and yes, Facebook. At first she thought I could bail her out of any sticky situation when our parents would try to confront her after she goes home at 5am after going out with friends but I told her no. I listened to her side of the story and talk to my parents too,I tried my best to talk to her like an adult because teenagers hate to be treated like children. In the end she pulls herself together and admit that what she did was not very nice or mature. I don’t force my sister to act mature all the time, we all have our moments but my point is that, I talk to her. If she says she wanted to talk, I drop everything and call her or drive all the way home just to talk to hr. After all, the most precious gifts that we can give to anyone in this world are attention and time. Good luck!



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