For Parents FAQ
My child has run away. What do I do?
Most runaways don’t go very far and can usually be found by following these five steps:
Call the Anchorage Police Department at 907-786-8500.
- Call their friends. Many kids stay with friends when they leave home. Ask the friend to pass on the message that you care about your child and want to make sure they are OK and in a safe place
- Contact Covenant House Alaska’s Crisis Center at 907-272-1255. Most youth in Anchorage know they can come to us if they need a safe place to stay.
- Call their school counselor to find out if your child is still in school and get any other information the school is able to provide.
- Go to the mall and other places kids hang out. Distribute a flyer with your child’s picture and your contact information.
Am I legally responsible for my child if he/she has run away from home?
Yes. Even if your child has run away from home, you are still legally responsible for them until their eighteenth birthday.
How can I keep my 13- or 14-year-old away from older teens?
In reality, it is almost impossible to keep young teens away from older youth, but there are some things you can do to help keep your teen out of trouble.
- Set aside time every week to spend with your teen.
- Know your teen’s friends.
- Know where your teen is. Ask them what they are doing and where they’ll be.
- Get them involved with church groups, sports, service organizations and school clubs that provide positive influences. Busy kids don’t have as much time to get into trouble.
Can I drop my child off at Covenant House Alaska for a “reality check?”
While dropping your child off at a shelter might seem like a good “reality check,” the truth is that it is almost always better to keep them at home. This proves to your child that you are committed to them and love them no matter what they do. It may also keep them away from the influence of other rebellious youth.
Our best advice for families in conflict is to get outside help in addressing difficult issues. This will provide additional options for working through your problems. Covenant House Alaska provides family mediation services free of charge to families in need. To find out more, call Covenant House Alaska’s Shelter Services at (907) 272-1255
Do you have any tips on dealing with my teen?
Here are 14 tips on teens by Evelyn Petersen (life columnist of “Ask Evelyn”):
- Let them know you are willing to listen to their ideas without making judgments. Talking is a way they think things out.
- Be accessible. Teens often blurt things out or want to talk at strange or inconvenient times. Be ready to listen anytime, anywhere.
- Use questions sparingly. Resist the urge to know everything they are thinking or planning. Show some trust; you would expect the same.
- Try not to be defensive. When they make generalizations or critical remarks, don’t take it personally. See it as an opportunity for discussion.
- Give straightforward advice or feedback on important issues. They need to hear you and they do hear you, even if they pretend indifference.
- Talk about yourself sometimes instead of them. Teens hate to be the only topic under discussion. Tell them about your own teen memories and mistakes.
- Set up family meetings and use them to their full advantage. Get input from each person on rules, curfews, etc., as well as on the consequences of breaking rules. Sign agreements, try them out, and modify as needed.
- Show intimacy. Teens are still kids inside; they need the warm feelings of belonging that come from good touches and hugs.
- Give lots of praise and positive feedback. Teens need to hear the “good stuff” just like the rest of us. They need to know you love them for who they are inside, as well as what they can do.
- Give them responsibilities with every privilege. That’s real life.
- Teach them to make decisions and make them accept the consequences of each choice they make.
- Teach them to deal with information. Teach them to think critically about what they see or hear, as well as how to sort out and prioritize information.
- Take time to relax and have fun. Teens need to learn positive ways to manage stress. Plus, enjoying each other will build lifetime relationships.
- Make them earn their own money, and teach them about the difference between wants and needs. Instant gratification does not teach life skills.
How can I communicate better with my teen?
Here are the top 10 techniques for better communication with your teen:
- Be a good listener first. Listening is the golden rule of communication.
- Don’t let disagreements become personal. If you don’t agree with someone, disagree with his or her behavior, not the person. For example, saying “I feel furious that the dishes haven’t been done” is better than saying “you’re a lazy slob.”
- Never assume what others are thinking – ask them! And don’t assume others know what you are feeling or thinking – tell them.
- Don’t blame. Say specifically how you feel (i.e. annoyed, angry, frustrated) and why you feel that way. Don’t blame another person for how you feel.
- Think in terms of compromise, not winning. You don’t need to win an argument or get the last word to be understood.
- Be specific, and be honest and direct. Sometimes it takes courage to say how we feel, but we feel better about it afterwards.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. It is easier to understand someone if you look at the situation from their point of view.
- Don’t fight old battles. Stick to the present situation.
- Talk a little bit every day. As you slowly build a relationship, it becomes easier to talk.
- Write a letter. Sometimes we need to take time to work out our feelings. Writing can help you express yourself without direct confrontation.