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Serious problem with son...

Hello Mark,

I have serious problem with my son and his breaking our family rules. This story sounds like a great plan; however our son is able to stay the course for three days and then start all over again, hence the weekend begins. Over the Thanksgiving holiday he stayed out all night and then came home and we took all his privileges away. He told his father that he understood his punishment and within 2 hours proceeded to walk out the door.

He also tells us that if we put our hands on him he will call the police. Now we know that we can restrain him but this is a no win situation. We cannot watch over him 24 hours a day. We already went down that road a year and a half ago. When he ran off for 5 days at the age of 13 we were told that a wilderness trip and boarding school was the answer. After being gone for over a year he came back and seems to be worse.

He has been in counseling and everyone who has ever encountered him says the same thing; he is an edgy kid who likes to take risks. We also know he loves to smoke marijuana. More so than most of his acquaintances; I have often asked if this is a sign of depression and have been told that in their opinion he is not depressed. What do you suggest?

I wanted you to be aware that we live in Maryland and I am not sure what the laws are concerning his absence. He has now been gone for over 2 days. I am going to find out the laws today that govern this situation. We have had advice saying that we should just let him stay out there and see what it is like; they say he will tire of it and come home. I have wondered the same thing; maybe we should just let it run its course. Another suggestion has been to call the police each and every time he stays out. This will give him a track record and maybe the police can give him a citation and then we would go to juvenile services and he would be given community service. I am looking into that aspect today. What would your opinion be concerning this action?

We have found out thru different sources that he is staying at various friends houses in and around our area. My mind is consumed with worry and I just want him safe; there are so many different drugs out there and trouble that he could get into. Believe me when I say we have tried a lot of different approaches. Please help us with your experience in these matters.

Thank you,



Since he refuses to accept rules and discipline, your only recourse (that will be effective) is to file a run away complaint as well as an incorrigibility complaint at your local juvenile probation department. You need outside assistance in the form of “formal probation.” Then he will be “court-ordered” to follow through with several objectives (e.g., comply with curfew, attend school, seek drug treatment, etc.).

DO NOT attempt to save him from uncomfortable emotions associated with his poor choices. Allow him to experience the full range of legal difficulties that result from with his defiant behavior.


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