Professional advice conflicts with parental responsibilities

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Active scribe

Professional advice conflicts with parental responsibilities

Hi everyone,


I'm assuming that if my son runs away for the night I am required to report him missing (after all, it looks pretty bad if the police find him wondering the streets at 2am and the parents haven't reported him missing).


However, psychologist/case workers say "If he contacts you (asking you to pick him up), DON'T DO IT" (otherwise he will keep doing it).


So what do you do??


To make matters worse, if you do report him to the police, they say, "He contacted you, and you chose not to pick him up, I'm not going to report him as missing"


Re: Professional advice conflicts with parental responsibilities

I don't think I'd be able to say no if my son rang me & asked me to pick him up because I'd rather know he's home safe in bed.
It's very tricky. I guess you have to do what you can live with. What feels right to you. If one way doesn't work, try another.
I can see why you're feeling stuck about what to do.
Best of luck x

Re: Professional advice conflicts with parental responsibilities

Hi @Dad4good, how frustrating to have such conflicting advice. I think it is a really hard position to be put in, so I am sorry that this is your experience. Is your son currently missing? Does this happen regularly? I think it would be beneficial to discuss the perspective/response of the police with the case workers/psychologists. As @Nikkita said, it could also be worth bringing up the consequences of not reporting him missing or not picking him up. Let us know how you go.

Prolific scribe

Re: Professional advice conflicts with parental responsibilities

Hi @Dad4good,


As parents we have to decide what advice to take and what to reject. Professionals have to worry about negligence, we don't. We just do what is best for our kids. Sometimes the professionals are overly protective. As parents we have to be brave sometimes and take risks - life is not risk free.


I'm not aware of a "requirement" to contact the police. I don't know your circumstances, if my son was missing for the night I think I would contact the police, given where we live, his age, and circumstances. But that is something for you to decide. Same goes for picking him up.


Good luck!



Frequent scribe

Re: Professional advice conflicts with parental responsibilities

My daughter's has taken off at night a few times and I always drive around looking for her and always pick her up when she calls me. Luckily the longest time was 2 hours and I was just about to call the police for help. She takes off when her emotions are too high and she cannot cope. This particular professional in my opinion has given you very bad advice.
Active scribe

Re: Professional advice conflicts with parental responsibilities

Hi @Nikkita, @Taylor-RO, @Schooner, @Nervous,


Thank you all for responding. It is surprisingly relieving when people "hear" you, so thank you!


From May through August my son was running away, on average, once or twice a week (overnight) and more frequent absconding during the day/evening (the longest period of consecutive staying home was 5 days).


I would drive around, looking for him, contacting all of this friends (well, the school friends that we had details for) and places that he may have been (e.g., Train stations, Youth centre, McDonalds, hospitals) and then at 10pm I would go to the police and report him missing.


Some police officers make things more difficult (e.g., some wont report him missing, and say "call us when it gets to 1am, and if he is not home by then, we can talk about it"). To handle this I created a word document that has all of the information required for them to complete the missing persons report (i.e., they could simply cut and paste the details across) and say to them "I know this is using a great deal of resources, and I'm sorry that I keep doing this, but he has mental health issues and I am worried. I can send you a word document that has all the information you need to make your job easier". I recommend every parent (who struggles with this issue) do the same, as it has worked wonders for me.


The Protective Service Operators (they look like police) at the train stations are amazing. They would call me when they see him (even when he wasn't missing) and say "we just saw your son, is he missing?"). Many times I was able to locate him through this pathway. My wife put a locator app on his phone. This was somewhat effective, but he kept finding and disabling it.


Everyone wanted to know "why" he keeps running away. When I talk to my son it was always "I only live once, and I just want to live my life. I know you guys care for me, but you are over protective and you need to let me do this". He was going through a range of different identity issues (e.g., became Emo, pans-sexual) in addition to mental health issues (e.g., feeling suicidal). None of the mental health support seemed to make any difference.


One of the big challenges, through, was that when I was able to find him, he wouldn't come with me. He would simply walk off and return only when he was "ready" to come home. It almost became a power play, and it was this reason why the health professionals said "don't go chasing him, don't collect him when he requests it". He needs to learn that if he wants to leave the house, and if he wants to play the role of an adult, then that also means getting your own way home".  


In mid August, my son committed a severe criminal offence, at which point the police put a curfew on him (he has to be home between 9pm and 6am otherwise he has broken bail). This was reinforced at the first court hearing and continues to be in place. This was the only thing that has worked. However, he ran away on the 26th October (breaking bail). He did it again on the 1st November and then on the 7th he ran away for over a week (where he missed his third court appearance), so things seem to be going sour again.


My reason for posting this discussion (on Friday) was that my son absconded during the day and then messaged my wife at 5pm saying "Pick me up from xxx at 9pm". I knew that I shouldn't go pick him up (in line with the health professionals recommendations) but that it also conflicts with the police process (i.e., you need to show them that you have done everything in your power to get him).


We decided to find out what public transport was available from his location (which he gave us a rough location), we communicated this with him and he got his own way home! Personally, I feel the health professional advice is the correct advise in our situation. However, it shows the battle you face dealing with different systems that have different priorities and purposes.

Prolific scribe

Re: Professional advice conflicts with parental responsibilities

Hi @Dad4good,

Yeah, I agree, it is surprisingly good to know someone is listening, and that others have similar experiences. I found writing my thoughts out helped me a lot to process them. Getting any sort of response was a bonus, and often I'd get some really good advice.


You've got a lot of stuff going on. Well done for keeping it together so far. Watch out for burn-out, it creeps up on you - at least it did for me.


Enjoy your Sunday


Active scribe

Re: Professional advice conflicts with parental responsibilities

Thanks @Schooner,


Yes, writing out this stuff seems to be helping, and thanks for listening Smiley Happy


I would be interested to know of other situations where forum members find themselves in a dilemma . . .


On Wednesday's my son gets picked up from school by his Anglicare case worker. They spend an hour together and then she drops him off home. Last week I found myself in a dilemma . . .


When dropping him off home, she asked me "He would like to go to his friends house, are you ok with that?".


My son wanted to go to a house where he had recently run away to and stayed for over a week (at least according to him he was staying there). I knew nothing about this house, except that 1) it was in a nearby suburb, 2) when he was there he was getting high on marijuana every day, 3) the adult occupants didn't notify the police that a stranger (14 year old boy) was staying with them (I had him as a missing persons).


I expressed my concerns with the safety of the house. Both the Anglicare worker and myself new that my son would go irrespective of whether or not I gave my permission. With this in mind, the worker suggested that I let him go if my son agrees to be home by a set time. I added the condition that he allows the case worker see him go into the house (i.e., to confirm the address of the location).


In the past I have never given my permission for him to go to a house which I have concerns for. I feel that it sends the wrong message (i.e., that I approve of the behaviour). I always communicate with him that "I am happy for you to hang out with friends, and I'll pick you up and drop you off as needed. But when I am concerned that you are putting yourself at risk, then I can't support that behaviour. How about we organize for you to hang out with some other friends". However, on this instance I did give my permission.


One reason I gave my permission was to get hold of that address (he never gives up this information). That night, I asked my son "How do you think the parents would react if police came to their house?" He said "they would freak, they wouldn't want police seeing what goes on over there". I then replied "just know that if you do go missing again, I have to give the address to the police and they will go there asking for you" (in an effort to dissuade him from running away again, so lets see how that goes!).


Anyway, the dilemma was to follow the advice of the professional (which by the way was suggested in front of my son - making it difficult to 'go against' the recommendation as it would further solidify my son's attitude that I am 'over protective' and 'unreasonable') or stick with my usual response. In this case, the need to know that address overshadowed everything so I went with that option.


Do you (forum members) find yourself in situations where you have to 'think on your feet' and the options seem to have no 'right' answer?


p.s. sorry for my ridiculously long posts . . . I realize that I tend to ramble . . .


Re: Professional advice conflicts with parental responsibilities

Hi @Dad4good glad to hear that writing this out is helping, we're here to listen Smiley Happy Sounds like that was quite the dilemma and I agree with you that needing to get that address overshadowed the other options. During times when I'm stuck or feel like there's no right answer I tend to go with my gut, assess the situation and logic often prevails. I'm going to tag some of our members for some further support and advice @taokat @sunflowermom @compassion @Helpful_Mum


Re: Professional advice conflicts with parental responsibilities

Hello @Dad4good
I totally understand where u are coming from. Since my daughter ran away for 4 days. I knew she was doing high risk behavior. We had police and missing child taskforce and everyone on Facebook looking for her. Now she has been home for about a month with no more attempts. I told my husband we never should have listened to the professionals to begin with and gone with our instincts ( her therapist was almost daring her to run away and not listening or warning us). Now we do things differently. We allow her at people's homes where I know she smoking. I ask to meet EVERYONE. Even guys online she may be talking with. I know she smokes pot but she is no longer on meds. We give her freedom and ask her to text if she breaks curfew . I know my parents and friends might judge the way we are parenting, saying she shouldn't have privileges. But they don't understand the terror a parent
Feels when their child runs away. She goes to school, she does chores, earns allowance. And I am very honest with her about my fears. Communication with our daughter even if I don't love some of her behaviors is my strongest parenting tool right now. I used to listen to all the professionals, thinking they know her better. But now I listen to my head and heart and discuss with my husband. As long ad we agree on our parenting, that's all that matters.