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When Your Child Comes Home

Regardless of the reasons why your child ran away, their return home may be difficult for everyone. When your child returns home, make sure that you show care and concern for their well-being. Express that you are happy to have them back home and do everything possible to make your child feel welcome and comfortable. It is important to recognize that your child may not reciprocate your feelings and expressions of care. The length of time that they have been away from home will impact the steps that you can take to ensure your child’s health and safety.

When you connect with your child:

  • Tell your child that you love them and are glad they are home.

  • Open an honest dialogue with your child and work to reduce the reasons they had for running away. This does not need to be done immediately. Consider whether or not you or your child need time to re-adjust and reflect.

  • Call the police and inform them that your child is home (if they aren’t aware).

  • Call and inform them that your child is home (if you have been working with and they are not aware that your child has returned home).

  • If your child was involved in dangerous behaviour while they were away, it may be necessary to take them to a doctor or hospital. Please be honest with the doctor about where your child has been and what they have been doing. This will ensure that your teen gets the medical attention and other help they may need.

  • Contact a third party mediator or counsellor. These services will help you and your teen work through the reasons why she ran away, assist in the child’s recovery, and begin the healing process for your family.

  • Assist your child in accessing other positive supports (e.g. positive peers, getting involved in activities, etc.).

Remember that your child may also be experiencing a wide range of emotions — from fear, anger, relief to sadness. They may be looking to you for cues on how to react and what to do. You can take a positive lead in this process by reacting calmly and by remaining focused on both healing and finding solutions.

The longer your child has been away, the more difficulty they may have reintegrating back into home life. Do not place expectations too high that everything will quickly “return back to normal.” This may frustrate your child and potentially cause them to run away again.

If the separation has been for an extended period of time it is important to consult with professionals regarding the reunification process as early as possible. These professionals may include a psychologist, missing children services, social workers and law enforcement. There are many steps that can be taken to help ensure a successful reunification and to ease your child’s burden.

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