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Not Following Rules and Failing School


My 16-year-old son left home a few weeks ago and was staying with another family because he didn’t want to follow our rules and was failing school. He didn’t want the follow the other family’s rules, either, and has left their house. He is going from friend to friend and has missed school lately due to being sick. I would really like to get him some help, but I don’t know where to start. He lost his sister to a brain tumor, and his dad and I divorced a few years ago. I am now engaged to be remarried, and he doesn’t like that, either. It’s like he just changed into someone else overnight. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.



Thank you for reaching out and contacting us for help. We are sorry to hear about the difficulties your family has been experiencing. Parenting is one of the toughest jobs there is, and it is very hard to watch our children struggle and not know how to best help them.

It is likely that your son is dealing with some depression issues related to the many losses he has experienced. Children often display signs of depression through an “I don’t care” attitude and significant changes in behavior. Youths experiencing symptoms of depression usually have difficulty completing assigned tasks both at home and at school and oftentimes cut themselves off ​from friends and family. They also tend to lose interest in things that used to be important to them.

If your son has not received any treatment after the death of his sister and your divorce, then the first step is to get a mental health evaluation. This should be set up with a psychiatrist or psychologist who can do an assessment and determine the best treatment plan for your son.

It is important to know that if you want your son placed outside of your home, you will need a current mental health evaluation. Also, other local resources typically need to be exhausted, such as counseling, inpatient hospitalization or medications, before placement becomes an option.

If your son becomes violent or leaves your home without permission, then it is important to contact your local police. Also, if he indicates that he wants to harm himself or others, then either call the police or take him to your local ER for an inpatient evaluation. No one wants to have to contact the police, especially when it is a family member, but it is important to do this for the safety of everyone involved, including your son.

We want to support you and your family during this difficult time. Know that we can best serve you by discussing this situation directly when you call 1-800-448-3000. We have trained counselors available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We can also assist in finding resources in your local area, such as counseling agencies and residential treatment programs, if we know the city and state in which you reside. We do understand if you are uncomfortable with this option and would rather keep in touch by e-mail. Please take care of yourself, and your family, and we hope to hear from you soon.