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boyfriend wants to leave home, but doesn't want to break family ties.

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  • boyfriend wants to leave home, but doesn't want to break family ties.

    Sent an email, but figured more responses may come in message board forum:
    My boyfriend wants to move out of his home. Tonight he was yelled at/grounded after volunteering at church like always. I do not know everything that happened but it does not matter as it is all caused by old wounds. His parents are constantly telling him he is disrespectful. One parent always sides with the accuser (the one on pain meds and in horrid moods often because of, but never apologetic or forgiving), and tonight they were very angry with him for reasons illogical and misled. He is constantly being told he is disrespectful, that they are disappointed in him, ashamed of him--they have no trust in him or his decisions and refuse to work out ways to have good discussions and logical problem solving. If they would resolve to help him understand, more often than not he would accept what they think is best. He IS very respectful and does not want to hurt his relationship to the point of no return with them, but he is wounded by their words. He said he wishes he could leave now but fears they would force him to come back, or he and anyone he involves would be in trouble with the law and he would get kicked out of his private school and lose his chance at getting into the college of his dreams. He is almost willing to suffer through months of emotional beat down and constant worry that everything he does is another judgement by his parents, than leave and cool down for just a few days, if not for good. I would have loved to be able to just pick him up for the night and let him sleep at a friend's house just to get some space, but he did not want to risk being labeled a runaway. I hurt for him. So much. I want to help him leave for a few days just so he, and the parents, can cool off and come back with clear heads to problem solve and move on, since healing is most likely not an option. His sister had a similar experience and left when she turned 18, the private school still kept her, only because she was being supported by her birth father. My boyfriend does not have that luxury. If he left at 18, friends and mentors would need to support him and he would have a horrid time getting through the rest of his senior year and approving scholarships and loans for college. I wish his parents would see that the best thing for him to do is get some space, and allow him to move out, at a nearby apartment, or EVEN his grandmother who lives down the street or his sister's family in the next town over! This whole situation seems like it could be calmed down with some applied thought and careful consideration of each other's needs. His parents are so sucked into the feeling that they need to enforce their authority that they have made "respect" equal "fear of position" not love. They are not recognizing his needs and I am afraid that if he does stay there in that situation that he will lose the motivation to believe and support his own needs. I think he will turn off feeling and become depressed. He has done it before, and I met him in that situation and we were able to pull him out of that pit together. Do not misunderstand me, I do not think he would be suicidal. He has never been, nor has he shown any of the signs (I am quite familiar with them and would report and seek instant help if so), but he would become very down, and I am afraid it would take quite a long time for him to recover. I fear he would put aside his own needs and believe the lies his parents tell him, that he is not good enough for them, and the lie they drill into him silently every day, that he can never do enough. I cannot approach his parents. They would assume he put me up to it, and he would get in more trouble, especially since they do not quite like me anyway, (well one parent, and the other is typically neutral). I asked if he was in physical danger because I needed to check and he said no, but I am in the camp that mental danger and physical danger both have repercussions of harm to almost equal extent. I do not know what to do. I only want him to be able to look back and have no regrets. I want him to be able to keep or one day repair the relationships.
    Family is everything to him, he wants one of his own, but he longs to keep strong family ties. If he loses his parents, he will be cut off from the rest of his family except his sister, and that would be very painful for him.
    I just wish he could go away for a week. Pray on it. Seek counsel, and problem solve with a clear head. But he can't he is confined to a toxic household, with a heavy heart that I fear will become hardened.
    So I need help. If he leaves for one night, what, *legally*, is the worst that can happen? (We live in Arkansas, he has a driver's license, a vehicle in his name, and insurance, and a small amount of cash)
    Would he be filed as a runaway after just 1 night even if he notified his parents where he would be?
    His parents are the kind that would get him in trouble with the cops just to "teach him a lesson" even if he never meant any harm to self or others. Or they would at least hold that threat over him to force him to stay home.
    Would it be the same if he went to stay with a family member who was willing to take his side in the family dispute?
    What would happen should he choose to leave for more than one night?
    What if his parents did not know his location, but knew if he was okay and willing to talk about coming back home if they were willing to talk it out with clear heads?
    If he chooses to move out when he turns 18, could he legally be kicked out of high school or forced to go back home despite his legal adult status?
    If he chooses to move out, are there support systems in the area or online he could take advantage of--help finding a place to live, a job, counseling for college entry and scholarship and loan acceptance without parental involvement or approval?
    If he chooses to stay at home, submit to their "punishment" and "grounding" him, and stays after that is done, what can HE do to help the family dynamics? I come from a family in which those words were never thought of and all of our disputes and hurts were either conversed about or gotten over so I cannot relate to a couple using fear to "control" their "child" for "what's best for him/her." It just doesn't compute with me when that ludicrous yet widespread (here in the Bible Belt of the South) idea OBVIOUSLY hurts more than helps the relationship between parent family member and young adult family member. I just don't know how to help when I can't relate. It makes me angry to hear about his hurts when it is something that could have been avoided so so long ago.
    How can he encourage thoughtful dialogue with his parents about his emotional needs (which apparently they don't believe in)? How can I help best in this process, in your experience?
    I let him know that I love him, and support whatever decision he thinks out and decides is best, but I want him to be able to thrive, not just survive. I want him to be more than just okay. He hurts when everyone else hurts, and does not know how to ask for help himself. I want him to take care of himself. These problems have been here for quite some time and he always says "I'm DONE." And he always means it. Each time a piece of him is chipped away and I see more and more sad smiles and stress in his eyes. I am tired of watching him get hurt and not being able to speak up. He is the sweetest man I know. He has seen more life and aged more in 17 years than most men have at 34.
    I am sorry to ask all of these questions and I know not all will be answered. I merely want to help the best I can and support him with what he needs be it active problem solving or passive silence and a comforting hug.
    What is next? Is there someone else I should talk to? Or something more I should/can do at this time?
    I know not all of these questions will be answered I just need a blunt answer with advise for the next step and facts about repercussions of each option. Staying and leaving.
    Thank you.

  • #2
    RE: boyfriend wants to leave home, but doesn't want to break family ties.


    Thank you for sharing your story with us. It sounds like you really care about your boyfriend and want to help support him during a difficult time. We are glad that you reached out to us for help.

    It sounds like your boyfriend is struggling in a difficult home environment, and he is weighing his options. You said that he is concerned about how running away or moving out at 18 will affect his future goal of going to college and how it could change his relationship with his family. That must be really tough. Ultimately, this decision will be up to him. I am glad that you are here to support him during this difficult time. You could give him our 24 hour hotline number, 1-800-RUNAWAY, and we would be more than happy to talk to him about what his options might be and offer any resources that might be useful to him. It sounds like he is going through a very stressful time, and we are here to listen and support him however we can.

    You might want to know that running away is what is called a “status offence” as opposed to a “criminal offence.” This means that if he leaves home without permission before the age of 18, his parents can make a runaway report with the police, but he wouldn’t be charged with a crime just for running away. Once a runaway report has been filed, the police might take him into custody and make him go home. This is one possible outcome, but if you want to know the specifics of how the police handle a runaway report for a 17 year old, you can always call your local police non-emergency number to ask. You might also want to know that in some cases, harboring a runaway might be considered a criminal offence, so anyone who houses your boyfriend and obstructs a police investigation into his case might be taking on added risk. However, it sounds like your boyfriend is close to turning eighteen, and sometimes police respond differently to these situations, and we cannot tell you for sure what might happen.

    You also asked about what could happen after he turns eighteen. Once you have reached the age of majority, your parents are no longer legally responsible for housing or financial support. It can be difficult to finish high school and go on to college without support and a stable living situation. Your boyfriend will be legally allowed to live wherever he wants and would not be required to return home against his will. At this point he will have a difficult decision to make about what is best for him and for his future, especially if he is counting on his parent’s financial support for college. We are glad that he has you to support him. You can give him our number, 1-800-RUNAWAY, or tell him about our live crisis chat, which is open between 4:30pm and 11:30pm Central Standard Time through our website, All of our services are anonymous and confidential. We are here to listen and support however we can, and we can talk him through his situation and help him decide on the best course of action. Thank you so much for reaching out to us!

    Best of luck,

    Please remember you can reach us directly by calling our 24 hour hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or through our Live Chat.

    National Runaway Safeline
    [email protected] (Crisis Email)
    1-800-RUNAWAY (24 Hour Hotline)

    Tell us what you think about your experience!


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