Can my child leave home at 16yo?

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Can my child leave home at 16yo?

I would like my son to leave home at 16yo. He has RAD, ODD, anxiety (although helped by meds) he is rude, defiant, disruptive at school and home, cocky, pathological liar, actually enjoys being nasty to me and his Dad (his own admission) and frankly, after 10+ years of this, we have had enough. He's 15 and we would like to plan for him to leave home at 16.

We have provided all the love and care we can and we are now at the end of our tether. 

He has no siblings and we have no extended family here - we want our lives to have some happy times again (before he came along). friends know what he's like and can't help.

We have seen 7 different psychologists over the years and he's under the "care" of a specialist child medical service however all professionals have said they are tried everything and don't know what else to suggest. He has been in trouble with the police but they say they can't do anything to help and referred us to child services who also said they can't help as we not an "extreme case" despite our son regularly threatening us and being abusive towards us. Me and my husband are both on medication due to ill health in dealing with stress. 

Our option now is to ask him to leave at 16yo but how can this be done so he's still safe. any help appreciated - thank you. 


Re: Can my child leave home at 16yo?

Hey there @Struggle sounds like your family is going through a hard time at the moment, I was very moved by your post.


Well done on reaching out to Psychologists over the years and working at developing your son's mental health in attempt to figure out how to best manage this situation, it sounds like you've put a lot of effort into his recovery. Have the Psych's indicated anything further around his attitudes and behaviours? Keen to know more about what they've told you. Have you done family therapy with him, yourself and Dad?


This statement really struck me - "He has no siblings and we have no extended family here - we want our lives to have some happy times again (before he came along)" It made me feel for yourself as well as your Son. As it sounds like you may have even preferred your life before your Son was in it? Do you think he would be aware you feel this way? We have a free program here a few of our members use - ReachOut Parents Coaching, which is a free service for Australian parents, designed to support those going through similar struggles. I am sure a few of the other members will jump in soon to provide their insight. Well done on seeking online support, I look forward to hearing from you.

Active scribe

Re: Can my child leave home at 16yo?

Hi Breez-Ro

Thank you so much for your reply. I appreciate it. 

Yep, over the years we have tried several parenting courses and our son has been on a number of "courses" - sadly nothing has helped. His attitude is unique! 


Therapists seem to be confused as what to say and the most recent one said she really didn't know what else to suggest apart from boarding school (not financially possible). They have suggested many ways of dealing with the issues but our son continually denies any issue and thinks everyone else (us, friends, teachers, etc) is too blame for his behaviour and never him - he never ever takes responsibility for his behaviour or actions. 


We have tried every approach every text book and every professional has ever suggested - all to no avail. So, Yes, sadly life was much better before he was around. I can't recall a time he made me happy for very long or even proud .... As bad as it sounds, he does now know how I feel as we just don't get along and clash constantly. Even in the "quieter" times, I have huge mistrust of him (he continually lies) and I struggle with his negative, mean personality. I do think he has low self confidence but no matter how much we try and praise (occasionally) it makes no difference. 


I accept our situation is not as bad as it is for some people so I hate to complain but I really just want to find some peace, calm and happiness. We are older than the average parents and ready for our lives back.....



Active scribe

Re: Can my child leave home at 16yo?

I pressed accept solution assuming it was accepting your offer of coaching. Not sure if that was correct?
Community Manager

Re: Can my child leave home at 16yo?

Hi @Struggle it's great to hear that you're willing to give the Parents Coaching a try. You can learn more and register by visiting this webpage.


Re: Can my child leave home at 16yo?

Hey there @Struggle@Danielle-RO has linked you up to parents coaching above Smiley Happy


Unfortunately I am unsure around each state law re: moving out of home, I myself moved out of home at sixteen due to a clash with parents so I am assuming it is legal as I certainly didn't have any services looking for me. As for doing it safely, it's a hard one. Obviously it's a risk to his physical and mental development being out on his own at a young age without a guardian, I am sorry to hear boarding school is also not an option. Do you have extended family interstate that would be able to assist? Or alternatively a friend who is willing to take him even 1-2 days a week?


Dependent on the state your in it could be possible for him to apply for housing, I know in ACT it is legal for a sixteen year old to submit their own application. Which state are you located? I can try and find some resources.


Have you tried alternative therapies together as a family? I.e. existential therapy, humanistic therapy or even transpersonal family therapy? Sometimes if the Psychologist route is to no avail it could be that the client may benefit from a more person centered therapist. Keen to hear more - we're here to listen & to try to support yourself and your Son's situation.

Active scribe

Re: Can my child leave home at 16yo?

Hi Struggle
sorry for your situation
please never consider boarding school as a fix for your child it will make things worse
Please don't give up on your son they are all a handful some way more than others but parental love even when exhausted and depleted is still the best hang in there

Re: Can my child leave home at 16yo?

Hi Struggle,


Thank you so much for sharing and I hope (like me) that you can find a little inner peace by sharing your thoughts with others. I'm new to this forum but already it feels liberating!


Firstly, I really "hear" your voice. To have a teen with numerous mental health issues is HUGE. You seem absolutely remarkable to have the resilience to have stuck with it all and well done for all your efforts. Quite remarkable that your son, yourself and your partner have endured 10 years of the issues you mentioned. It is indeed indicative that you both (partner and yourself) do love your son very much. You just wish he'd stop being abusive....right?


There are always answers even when you feel please don't give up! There are residential facilities within NSW (with educational faculties) for teens with anxiety. This type of facility would be excellent for all of you because it would provide your son with the help he needs plus give you and your partner a much needed break.


Try and focus on the fact that you and your husband are a partnership and will work it out. Also aim to get some respite and look after yourselves as individuals. Importantly......through the turmoil........reach out for support and try and do something fun with your son. Its good that you have opened up to friends about the situation. My son has similar problems (although doesn't get disruptive at school....just at home and I'm a solo parent) and I haven't opened up to many people at all about his condition (for fear of judgement and wanting to protect him from his "labels"). So maybe ask your friends if they could provide you with more support. A friend who could take him out for the day to do something he enjoys. You do have positives.......its just difficult when you are feeling so deflated. But your feelings will pass.

Sending you blessings and much understanding. Good Luck.

Prolific scribe

Re: Can my child leave home at 16yo?

Oh boy @Struggle, this sounds like a huge burden for you as a family ! I am so sorry to hear this is happening to you . You sound like a truly loving exhausted parent !

 My suggestion would definitely be family therapy . The problem is  more likely to be one of the interpersonal dynamic between you , your husband and your son . We often take our kids to the psychological alter and ask someone to help them , when really it's a family issue that is the problem not simply the individual child 's problems . 

There may well be parenting issues  here that are clashing with your son's mental health issues that are exacerbating the situation and it has escalated across time .  It can be a potent mix that compounds across time ! 

I know family therapy can be expensive however you may be able to get it under a Mental Heath care plan ?? . I would tell your GP that your situation has reached crisis point , you are thinking of  making him leave the home . It would be worth the investment anyway as you have very little time left ( 2 years infact ) to influence him as a child in your care . When he is 18 then the wheels could really come off . 

Our job is to prepare our kids to be independent , self reliant , productive and  self actualising in life .  At the moment this seems like a goal you can never reach , I get that and I feel for you all . 

The other thing is , if you really feel that you cannot cope any longer , get him into a therapeutic camp for teens , one that includes  adjunct  parenting work for you and your husband to do while he is away so that when he returns you have therapeutic parenting tools to deal with his behaviours .  


Please take care of yourself and don't give up on him ! I am sure there is a solution if you keep searching 😊




Active scribe

Re: Can my child leave home at 16yo?

Hi everyone that has been kind enough to spend time to respond to my plea and give some great advice - I appreciate it.
We have tried family therapy but our son believes it is our problem only and if we let him do what he wants when he wants there would simply be no issue!!! If only life were that easy!!
We don’t have family or close friends in the area as we are relatively new to Australia but we are looking into extra support and hope that works. I will try & resist asking him to leave at 16 but I doubt I’ll go beyond 17/18. I need to find peace again!
Any tips on how to deal with it when he starts to abuse and torment would be appreciated! I struggle with that the most...and I know people say continue to show love but I’m actually not overly keen on him anymore as he’s put us thru too much - I have no idea how to show love when often i don’t even like him.....(afraid the text books etc are just not realistic!)
Thank you again