Kicking Your Teenager Out – Dealing with Unacceptable Behaviour

I am not a strong advocate of booting kids from the home. While there is some behaviors that may warrant kicking your teenager out, this is not something that should ever be entered into lightly, or without great consideration for the consequences. When we have children we bring them into this world, and our families, for better or for worse and kids under the age of eighteen deserve a chance to make mistakes at home, where the consequences of their behavior doesn’t have to create nearly insurmountable challenges for their future.

When you ban your kid from the home, you are setting them up to opt for a few choices, and none of them are offering them a bright and beautiful future. If they are still in high school, they are going to have to secure a place to live. This is not an easy task when you aren’t living somewhere to begin with. Most kids who are given the boot stay with friends for a little while, but they can quickly wear out their welcome. They need money and they need it fast in order to feel as though they are surviving “this” and thus options such as prostitution and drug dealing suddenly become much more viable.

If we can consider kicking your teenager out to be the punishment, then we have to weigh it against the crime. Knowing full well that we are emotional beings, there is going to be a much more significant emotional impact on the kid than there will be a physical impact on him. What crimes can your kid commit against the family that warrants being homeless and out in the world alone without any preparation? We have to take this in two separate “crime lists.”

Let’s start with the crime of Being. The crime of Being includes those kids who are kicked out of their home for who or what they are. Whether they are told to leave because they are not like they were expected to be or can not be as they were expected to be, these kids suffer greatly because it’s not a behavior that was rejected, but who they are. Gay kids, kids who refuse to “follow the family footsteps,” and kids who are have to take large risks just to keep their heads above water are most likely to find themselves homeless before the age of 17. Kids who are pregnant or who have gotten someone pregnant fall into the realm of the crime of Being as well as the crime of Action. This is often because parents who respond this way do not necessarily see the result of the action as an error in judgment, but parents often refer to their pregnant daughters and guilty sons as sluts and well, worse. This leaves the child with the notion that it is not the action, but who they are that is being punished.

If you are dealing with the crime of Action, there are other methods of not tolerating a behavior than removal from the home. Kids may be seriously messing up left and right but there are almost always other answers. You’ve watched his grades slip, found all the evidence you need under his mattress, and of course, you can tell on the rare occasions that he talks to you that he is either stoned or high or both, and no matter what you do, he insists on bringing drugs into the home. You’re in the military, the police force, or any other line of work that would not only find you homeless but also out of a job should any controlled substance be found in your home or on your property. This makes for a pretty serious crime of Action, and it may even seem like to save the rest of your family, you have to push one out the door. Psychologists have found that kids who are using drugs increase their habit by nearly 30% if they are kicked out of their home.

What about the kid who is violent? Or the kid who is terrorizing the whole family? What about the kid who refuses to go to school, refuses to get a job, and steals money no matter how clever you think you are when it comes to keeping it hidden? These are tough cases. At seventeen, your kid should know better. How did this happen? If you kick him out, then at lest you know you aren’t enabling him.

These are tough calls to make, and there are good arguments for encouraging parents to take a hard line with their kids. Yet there is direct and solid evidence that shows most kids who are in danger of being kicked out of their own home are in these situations for a reason. The almost guaranteed result of kicking your teenager out is that the situation will get worse. By shunning them, you are telling them that they are not even worthy of being part of the family, of being cared for or cared about. By forcing them to leave, without a steady income, a reasonable place to go, and a way to take care of themselves, you are setting them up for failure and everyone knows it. You are literally telling them that you do not care what happens to them and that their problems are bigger than you and your family.

In our society we have available for every family, rich, poor, and in between, a place to get professional help. Even if you can’t afford it, there are places out there that can offer help. Most parents who kick their teenager out aren’t doing it because they don’t love their children, although that is exactly what the child will think. Kids get kicked out when the parents have reached the end of their rope and it is a last ditch effort to force them to get some help. The kid on drugs might need a warm place to sleep so maybe the harsh reality will jump start them into rehab, right? The kid without an education or a job will probably opt for one or the other, right?

Wrong. Kids in trouble stay in trouble and most often make their troubles much worse when they can’t do something as simple as live at home with their family. Stability is one of the factors that can help a kid come out the other end of a really rough time in his life. Kicking your teenager out is not only likely to exacerbate his problems, but leave you with an enormous feeling of guilt. At the same time, kicking your teenager out isn’t going to provide your kid with the boundaries they need to become the successful adult they still have the potential to become. Frustration, anger, resentment, and even uglier feelings like momentary flashes of rage or hate are common in homes with distressed teens. These are emotions that are momentary and that will pass. Forcing your teenager into homelessness is an action that can have irreversible consequences.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. When the child refuses to respect health, dignity and safety within the family , then kicking the teen out the door is perfectly reasonable. I would do it without hesitation or guilt. The problem is that some parents mistake inconvenience with what their responsibility of raising a child is and guiding them into adulthood so that they can be independent. Teens will be naturally rebellious and have attitude, but when a certain line is crossed they need to be given the altamatum to get the f@$k out until they choose to follow the minimum rules of respect for everyone’s health, dignity and safety. The love for a child is only as meaningful as the love you have for yourself. And a child will see right through your bullsh!t if you have no respect for yourself. Children respect those who have boundaries and respect for themselves. It’s that simple.

  2. My son has been arrested 19 times and he just turned 17. Won’t go to school, won’t follow rules and when I ground him he goes behind my back. I have other kids in the house and they are seeing the issues. Soon I worry I might be going through this again. I need help. Work is impossible because my home and family are a mess. I fear the worst every time he walks out the door. Everyday is a fight just to want to come home. Counseling, doctor visits, and many trips to the police station and courthouse have not helped. I’m at a loss! He wants to move out but I don’t want him to think I gave up on him. Plus I fear being in trouble for him leaving. He does want he wants and could care less what anyone says.

  3. I have a 17 year-old daughter who is rebellious. She comes and goes as she pleases and is sometimes gone for days at a time without answering her phone. I raise her mostly on my own as a single mother and receive some help from friends and family when I reach out, which is no was feat. Everyone has their own lives and their own problems. This is a difficult time in our lives. My concerns lie in the realm of her justifying her behavior to the point where I actually understand where she is coming from. It is because I understand that I find it hard to set clear boundaries. Too much empathy makes for weak parenting skills. You’ve got to set clear rules verbally to start, and remain consistent. This is not easy however it is the best advice I’ve gotten and am trying out.

  4. My 16 year old was using cocaine. Coming down she was violent and I had to remove myself and the younger children from my home, for safety. She went to detox and came out to repeat the behaviors. It has been a two year battle and I can not legally force her to do anything.
    So I gave her the choice. Come home from your drug dealers house to talk to me, or I change the locks. She chose to stay there. There comes a point where teens need to realize that they are not entitled. I have a right to be safe in my home, and a responsibility to keep my other children safe.
    Ultimately, everyone has free will. If there is a blatant disregard for family and authority, why enable it? I gave her the choice and she didn’t come home. Now, to come home she has expectations to carry through on. She isn’t willing, and that is her choice, but there is no way that choice will come at the expense of my household.

    • Good for you this article Seems so easy, I need to see numbers stats to back it each direction those that got kicked out those that gave up their life to deal with one child while others suffer I told my daughter clearly I will sacrifice her to save the other four, why should 80% of our time be focused on her daily I personally think this article is bunk.

  5. My daughter that was a teenage parent twice before the age of 17 has kicked her daughter age 16 out because she is pregnant ! She has cussed and said awlfulll things to me and her best friend for comforting her daughter . I am so sad over her actions , when all I have done since she had kids is help her raise . I am done helping my daughter she really has shown her seldfishness

  6. Our daughter is 19. She skipped more classes her Señor year than she went to. Yet, we found her a scholarship at a small college to play Lacross. Two weeks before she was supposed to leave, she told everyone she was not going to college because it was not for her. Instead..she was out smoking pot, drinking, and we found out later .doing cocaine.

    She went from living at her mom’s house, to moving in with her uncle, then back to her mom’s house, then to her Grandparents, then another uncle. After she was kicked out of her Uncles house she ended up going into rehab. She came back from rehab a “changed person” and moved back into her mom’s house. Everything was great for at least 30 days. We had her enrolled in a local community college, found her a part time job, and had her attending her IOP meetings on a regular basis.

    Now three months from that time she is back on drugs, lying to us about working, having her friends lie to us about what she is doing (including devising a schedule telling us where she is at..when she is actually with them smoking pot.). She has pawned stuff from the house, and posted things on Craig’s list to sell. I know people want to tell you that “I would never let my kid do that to me,” but until you are in that situation, you have no idea how to handle it. We decided we just can not live with this anymore, and decided to change the locks on the door. Her response? To call the cops on us to say we were not letting her get her stuff the day after she never came to pick up her things when she was supposed to. This is definitely nothing that we took lightly, and did everything that we could to help her out, but sometimes the best thing to do is let them find a way. I am sure things will get worse in the beginning, but that is the only way for them to get better.

  7. I agree with almost everything the author writes. But, there comes a time when every other person in the house is in imminent danger. My 17 yr old started dealing drugs after 3+ years of us getting him inpatient, outpatient, residential treatment, family therapy, marriage therapy, etc. for treatment of his substance abuse. We are not wacko parents – we raised him right, taught him right from wrong, disciplined him and loved him. We watched him get indoctrinated into the National Junior Honor Society, and then completely reject his family and our values/rules. Now, we have meth dealers and addicts coming around our home and neighborhood and none of us are safe from our son when he is tweaking and when he brings dealers and clients to our ally. Tell me Professor’s House – you would not take action to have this person removed from your home?

  8. I was reaching out to the Internet for answers and came across this site. I have a 16 soon to be 17 year old son whom I love dearly. He is the youngest of three and his sister 19 and brother 23 are doing exceptionally well although there were rough times. He went through a nasty divorce with me and his mom a few years ago it should have been simple and ended quickly but she dug in and it turned into a custody battle over my son which I won. Everything was fine up until the first of this year when he got a new girlfriend. This child has carried a 3.5 out of 4.0 GPA up to that point and is one project away from being and Eagle Scout. This girlfriend is a complete loser, has no dignity or self esteem. Now all they do is come in and have sex and smoke pot. He missed over 30 days of school this last semester and came up with a 2.25 GPA now his overall has dropped to barley 3.0. I am getting calls from parents saying they found pot on their kid and when asked where they bought it they say my son and his girlfriend. I had a talk with him as we have a good relationship and he said he would stop but it is getting worse. I smell it in the house, in my car, everywhere. I tried to explain life to him and he just gives me a doe in the headlights look and goes on as usual. I am going to have to get hard with him but also if it continues and gets worse I am considering the ultimatum of comply or find a new place to live. I hope he matures soon and it does not get worse.

    • Not sure where you live but I posted about my daughter middle of last year and have her now placed in a therapeutic group home through brooklane Mental Health Services it sucks that I have to pay child support to the state of Maryland but if it helps my daughter become a productive member of society it’s worth it.
      You can’t do it alone you have to get County and state resources to help you even if it means calling the law taking them to emergency rooms or whatever

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