Unknown and Young Adults
Staying Connected With Your Child
If your son or daughter no longer lives at home or keeps irregular hours, talk to your child about ways to ensure you will have the information you need should something go wrong. It is incredibly important to stay in communication with your child, regardless of their activities, behaviours or lifestyle.
Examples of ways to stay in communication with your child include:
Having regular check-ins. Set up regular communication with your child through phone, text or email. Stress that the point of the communication is not to monitor their activities, but just to make sure all is well. Having regular contact with your child will not only help you keep in touch, but can also help to alert you if something is wrong. Remember that, should your child go missing and there is no evidence of foul play or an accident, all you will have to go on is your knowledge of your child and why this situation is unusual and warrants concern.
Having contact information for your child’s friends, roommate(s), neighbours and co-workers. As a parent, knowing who your child is friends with, where these friends live and how to contact them is vitally important. For example, your child may be headed off to university to live on their own for the first time — if they were to disappear, when would you learn of it? How would you learn of it? What actions could you take? By taking the time to consider these questions you can think about ways to ensure you have the information you need when it matters most. Having contact information for those around your child, such as immediate neighbours, dorm mates, roommates etc. may prove to be invaluable. Also, make sure to remind your son or daughter about providing your name and number as an emergency contact to friends, roommate(s), neighbours and co-workers should something go wrong.
Knowing your child’s schedule, or knowing the individual who does. If you know very little about your child’s regular day-to-day schedule and contacts, it will be more difficult to convince the police that their disappearance is out of character and warrants immediate action. Since your child is older, it is likely you will not know all of their plans — but someone will. It is important for you to know who this person is, and to have a way to reach this individual.
Spending time together and focusing on listening to them. Depending on your situation, communication and connection can be maintained within the home by seeking opportunities to spend time with your child and to listen to them. If they don’t live at home or keep irregular hours, it may be better to maintain connection through technology, by phone, email, social networking pages, etc. Regardless of what method you use to communicate with your child, it is important to stay in touch so that if something were to happen, you would know about it as soon as possible and you would be able to provide some information to the police.
Raising your concerns. If you believe that your child is experimenting with risky behaviour, talk to them about your concerns for their well-being. Educate your child about the risks involved with drugs and alcohol. Give third-person examples or stories (meaning stories about what other people have gone through or experienced) to pique your child’s interest and not sound like you are lecturing them or being judgmental.
Taking the time to repair any damage. If a major blow up happens between you and your child, or your child and someone else, take the time to repair the damage that has been done. This may be difficult, especially if you are angry, but it is important to de-escalate the situation so that your child does not make a rash decision that places them in a vulnerable situation.
Using a neutral third party. If, for example, your child has left home or refuses to communicate with you, engage other people in your child’s life to offer your child support and maintain communication. Do not ask this person to get in the middle of the fight, or to convince your child to come home. Simply allow this person to keep the communication going with your child, using their own judgment, and ask that if the communication ever stops – they need to get in touch with police, child welfare and you.