Why Children Are Running Away from Home

There were many times I considered running away from home as a pre-teen.


Well, I didn’t have words to express all my feelings at the time. But, if I could go back today and write an angry letter to my parents, it would have sounded like this:

“I see the panic on your face, Mom and Dad.

I know the internal terror as you see the statistics and hear the stories about run-aways.
I see you desperately scrambling to do damage control with me, your beloved child, and you try to manufacture family loyalty while you still have the chance. So I want to help you.

You may think you know why I want to leave, but I’m not sure you do.

You think it’s because I don’t respect authority. You believe “the culture” is so lost, so perverse, so beyond help that it encourages kids like me to rebel. You believe your once-compliant daughter has turned a deaf ear to the voice of God; chasing selfishness and material things instead. You think that my friends and a few pop stars have so screwed-up the morality in my world that I’m ready to abandon my loved ones.

But those aren’t the reasons I’m leaving this family.

Those are NOT the problems, Mom and Dad.

You are the problem.

Let me elaborate…

1) You speak in a foreign tongue.

Mom and Dad, you talk and talk and talk, but you do so using a dead language. You’re holding on to dusty words that have no resonance in my ears, not realizing that just saying those words louder isn’t the answer. All the buzzwords that used to get my attention when I was a kid, no longer do.

I need you to speak in a language that I can understand. Maybe you have some decent things to tell me, but you need to say it my way.

2) Your vision can’t see past your building.

You always want me to do the dishes or clean my room. That stuff doesn’t really matter in real life, guys.   I matter more than the house, don’t I? So, stop with the chore list already…

Or at least ask ME what chores I’d PREFER to do.

3) You choose lousy battles.

I know you like to fight, Mom and Dad. That’s obvious–based on how many times you pick fights with me. You can go to war with the best of them. The problem is, your battles are too darn small. What movies I watch? How short my skirt is? Whether or not I come home late? That’s not the kind of stuff I care about.

I’d much rather talk about what YOU’RE doing wrong…

Mom and Dad, I need you to stop being warmongers with the trivial, and pacifists regarding my list of important things.

4) Your love doesn’t look like love.

Love seems to be a pretty big deal to you, but I’m not feeling that when the rubber meets the road. In fact, more and more, your brand of love seems incredibly selective and decidedly narrow…

It feels like a big bait-and-switch, sucker-deal; advertising you love me the way I am–YET YOU STILL WANT ME TO GROW UP.

Guys, can you love me if I don’t always agree with you? It doesn’t seem so.
Can you love me if I cuss and drink and get tattoos, and God forbid, vote Democrat? I’m doubtful. Can you love me if I’m not sure how to define love, and marriage, and Heaven, and Hell? It sure doesn’t feel that way.

From what I know about Jesus, I think he looks like love. The unfortunate thing is, YOU don’t look much like him.

That’s part of the reason I’m leaving, Mom and Dad.

These words may get you really, really angry, and you may want to jump in a knee-jerk move to defend yourself or attack my positions line-by-line, but I hope that you won’t.

I hope that you’ll just sit in stillness with these words for a while, because (whether you believe they’re right or wrong) they’re real to ME.

And that’s the whole point.

That’s the whooooole point, Mom and Dad.

What I feel.

Let’s talk about what I feel All. The. Time. Because that’s the whole point.

Give me a reason to stay at home. And maybe you can convince me not to punish you with my absence.”


Huge thanks to John Pavlovitz for helping me articulate what 13-year-old me would have LOVED to say to my clueless, unloving parents.

1 thought on “Why Children Are Running Away from Home

  1. Roberta Hite

    “Let’s talk about what I feel All. The. Time. Because that’s the whole point.”
    I think this sums up the pre-teen and other ages’ viewpoint. Yes, feelings are important, but how about the parental feelings? The hard part is trying to get that age to understand that others have feelings too which are just as important as the complaining individual.



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