My 15 year old daughter has not come home in the last 3 weeks.

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Re: My 15 year old daughter has not come home in the last 3 weeks.

@stressedout

Thank you for responding and I'm so very glad to hear that you are at a place where you can breathe easier.  I will cross my fingers that your daughter rediscovers and hangs on to her 'north star'. 

 

I have yet to write out what has happened with our family/daughter but suffice it to say that there are many parallels between us.  My daughter's life spiraled into something so unfamiliar--running away, very very risky activities, hospital stays for suicidal ideation, and heart-breaking self harm.  

 

We, too, have found a solution similar to yours.  We live on the eastern side of North America on the border between the US and Canada.  Our daughter now attends a boarding school across the border, also about 3 hours away. It's an excellent boarding school but *not therapeutic in nature.  Similar to you, we are in early days.  There are some encouraging signs, and still some worrying signs. But, for now, she is rediscovering arts and sports and is somewhat keeping her head afloat in her academics.   It was a big risk allowing her to go there (not to mention that we are hardly in the income bracket to be able to pay for this school...), but--in consultation with her psychologist--we had to admit that we could not keep her safe if she stayed in town. So much that would make a fresh start far too difficult.  

 

I think that following the school's many (reasonable) rules will be extremely challenging .We still hold our breath wondering if she will be expelled for risky activities, and I don't suspect we will easily lose this fear.  But, she is still there after 2 1/2 months.  I should probably celebrate that achievement more than I do--however, I don't yet feel at all close to exhaling. 

 

 Our hope is that she will be surrounded by peers who can help her rediscover parts of herself that were lost (or misplaced...) last year, and that the structure, tight community, and many adult mentors can help keep her safe.  She is, for the most part, okay/content with being there, but anxiety and impulsivity are a part of her life and I do not yet know how/to what degree that is shaping her experience at the school. She has accomplished some things that have made her proud. 

 

My fear, and I have a WHOLE BUNCH of anxiety wrapped up in this, is that she returns for a nine day visit tomorrow.  I am terrified...scared that this nine day visit will be enough to unravel her hard work, that she will reconnect with guys who hurt and used her badly (her sense of self worth was crushed last year, and she gravitates towards attention that is so very harmful) and that any forward moving progress is clawed back.  

 

The majority of her girlfriends distanced themselves from her last year as a result of her high risk sexual behaviour.  And, her activities were the subject of so much talk in her arts and sports communities.  I mention this because there are not that many healthy relationships here to which she can turn,  and I fear (a realistic fear, I think) that she will re-engage in something that makes her spiral again (e.g. sexual activity that gets recorded and shared amongst groups of guys) and gets her kicked out of her school.   We have had so much difficulty with honesty/transparency, respect for rules/curfews, and so on...

 

stressedout....has your daughter returned home for a visit at all?  How did it go and how did you manage any anxiety that you may have had about the visit?  I fully know that I cannot control her. I'm simply very scared that her impulsivity will hurt her.  I don't trust my daughter's decision making, and that is painful to admit. 

 

stressedout and anybody else reading this...I welcome your words of wisdom. How do I approach this 9 day visit, both practically and emotionally?

 

Mod

Re: My 15 year old daughter has not come home in the last 3 weeks.

Hi @compassion,

Do you have family / relatives who may be able assist with your daughter coming for a visit? Totally understand how anxiety provoking it must be due to her unpredictability of her behaviours. Maybe just asking her what would make her feel that she has had a successful visit would be a good place to start.. What do you think?

Contributor

Re: My 15 year old daughter has not come home in the last 3 weeks.

Dear @compassion

I can fully feel and understand your anxiety around your daughter coming home for a visit.  I have been thinking about it all morning.  We both know even though we want to it will be a very long time until we can fully trust our daughters again....probably when they are 30.  I know you said most of her female relationships are broken- but is there anyone you are in contact with a trustworthy girl that she still could spend some time with this visit maybe for coffee or a movie?  some outing?  Do you have a tracker on her phone?  Will that prove she goes where she says she is going?  

Some things I have just started since my daughter returned this week.

Cameras installed in and outside, alarm locks on our front and back doors ( I know this wont help you now)   it has brought me much peace of mind at night and the couple hours I am at work

I just talked to my daughter my fear about her getting hooked up on those sites again and having sex with random strangers.  She said she wont do that anymore but cant tell me why.  I get the impression that even though she feels broken and damaged and has low self worth she still feels so much shame around the events.  I bet your daughter feel similar.

You are so right when you said we really have no control over what they do.  In sane moments I just try to talk to her about how to get out of dangerous situations and remind her that no matter what she can always pick up the phone and call me- I will always stand by her.  We can even invoke a no questions asked policy.  I wish I had better ideas for you- I wish I could tell you don't worry.  I wish someone could just show us a crystal ball and we could see our girls as healthy and happy at age 30. Then maybe we could relax a little now. I keep praying for the faith and reassurance that they will make it out of these tumultuous teenage years strong, amazing women.

I hope your family can plan some together time during her visit.  Hang in there.  Hugs

Mod

Re: My 15 year old daughter has not come home in the last 3 weeks.

Very helpful @sunflowermom, I think some of the strategies you are trying are so wonderful. It really warms my heart to hear the way you are handling everything - with such love, compassion and understanding. I can tell that you are really standing with your daughter through this and it so beautiful Heart

Frequent scribe

Re: My 15 year old daughter has not come home in the last 3 weeks.

@sunflowermom

 

Thank you so much for your kindness, presence, and support.  I'm sorry it took a bit to respond to your wise and calming words. I am still in the midst of the visit, and will give a more detailed update in a bit.  This is hard stuff, isn't it?

 

 

Contributor

Re: My 15 year old daughter has not come home in the last 3 weeks.

Hey @compassion

thinking of you.....  hoping the visit is going well.  You are so right!  this is hard stuff

Active scribe

Re: My 15 year old daughter has not come home in the last 3 weeks.

Hi @sunflowermom, @stressedout, @compassion,

 

Sorry I am posting so late, but I'm new and wanted to contribute . . .

 

My 14 year old son ran away for over a week (he recently returned a few days ago) and yes it freaked me out (so I can't imagine 3 weeks!). He was engaging in risky behaviours and broke bail and missed his court hearing (which really freaked me out!).

 

Recently I learnt that we need to shift from a "manager role" to a "consultant role" during teenage years. With the former managing all of the different aspects of a child's life (e.g., making sure they eat their vegies etc.) and the consultant role providing information and support to adolescents (e.g., presenting them with the various options and allowing them to make their choice). I still really struggle with this (especially when I feel it conflicts with setting boundaries).

 

Anyway, I don't think this has changed his behaviour. However, I found this to be the best way to build a relationship with my son. It drove me crazy when he made the 'wrong' choice, but it still built the relationship, and it helped me have good conversations with him on his return.

 

I hope this insight is helpful for you. Best of luck Smiley Happy 

Frequent scribe

Re: My 15 year old daughter has not come home in the last 3 weeks.

@Dad4good

Thank you for this.  Yes, I have had to quickly modify my role and expectations. I agree that it's so very difficult but, as you mention, it's important to foreground the relationship. 

 

For example, last year my daughter was doing very risky things with her phone.  We then monitored her phone very closely (taking it away, installing monitoring apps and so on).  Our intent was good (in that we wanted to prevent harm) but it dramatically altered and harmed our relationship. Don't get me wrong--I would probably do the same thing again with her phone (and still wish that we took it away more permanently) but I would have done so in a way that better preserved the relationship. 

 

I'm glad that your son returned home. How are things going with your son right now?