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Single Mothers Coping With a Teen Who Won't Come Home

by Anna Green, studioD

Although breaking curfew and testing rules is developmentally normal behavior for teenagers, for a single mother, this type of rebellion can be especially stressful, frustrating and frightening. If your teen’s other parent is involved in his life, enlisting his help in talking to you teen can be valuable. If the other parent is absent, however, using other supports can help you and your teen deal with the strong emotions and conflicts that might be underlying your child’s behavior.

Exploring the Behaviors

One step in fostering more compliant behaviors is to examine the reasons why your teen won’t come home. This behavior could stem from multiple reasons: wanting to test boundaries, drug use, a desire to spend more time with peers or discomfort with you or a sibling. Although your teen might be reluctant to talk about his actions, the National Runaway Safeline recommends talking to him about his behaviors non-judgmentally and calmly. By discerning why, exactly, your teen is reluctant to come home and by outlining your expectations for his behavior, you will have a basis for helping him make better choices.

Using Natural Resources

If your teen is reluctant to speak to you about his reasons for not coming home, consider other important resources in the child’s life, such as his other parent, aunts, uncles, adult cousins, trusted teachers or close family friends. In addition to helping you foster stronger communication with your teen, these people can provide you emotional support. Likewise, as individuals who do not share the complex mother-child bond with the teen, these outside supports might be able to communicate with your teen in different, more effective ways.


In addition to turning to friends and family members for support, it is important for you to maintain your own emotional care as a single mother of a teen who will not come home, recommends the Supernanny Team. Because the circumstances might feel stressful or even overwhelming, taking time to eat properly, sleep adequately and exercise can help you preserve your emotional resources and respond to the circumstances rationally.

Professional Supports

If you and your family’s natural supports are unable to reach your teen or if you are feeling depressed, anxious or emotionally impaired by the problem, professional counseling might be a good resource for both you and your teen. Individual counseling can provide you with an outlet to share your emotions and frustrations, while your teen can use individual therapy to process the reasons for not coming home. Further, family therapy can help bridge the gap between you and your adolescent and foster healthier communications and family dynamics.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

Photo Credits

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