It can be terrifying to realize that your teenage daughter has been out all night. In your mind, there is no reason for your teenage daughter to not come home at night. It can be nerve wracking to pace the floor well past two in the morning. It can be even worse to wake up around four in the morning and realize that even though she was sound asleep when you went to bed, she snuck out some time after that. What could she be doing?
You’re scared. You want to shake her senseless when she finally walks in through the door. You want to hug her like you’ve never hugged her before. You want to cry and scream. What you really want is for her to feel your emotions and what she put you through by acting so irresponsibly.
There is the distinct possibility that she will not tell you the truth about where she is during those long hours. If she is spending it with someone, they more than likely have already thought of a cover story if either of them gets caught. As much as no parent wants to consider the fact that their teenage daughter is probably sexually active, sex is the main reason a teenage daughter stays out all night.
However, that is not the only reason a teenage daughter may be gone through the wee hours of the morning. Kids between the ages of 12 and 20 go through a constant roller coaster of emotions. Their emotions can lead them to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Sometimes they actually do sneak out into the world to try to experience it from a different perspective. Under the guise of darkness and the illusion of freedom, they may very well have snuck off to spend the night wandering the streets. While this is not a very safe option either, it has been known to happen.
A teenage daughter who regularly does not come home at night is more than likely either spending it with someone, or something. Drugs, drinking, and sex are the three main reasons girls deceive their parents and stay out all night, in no particular order. Regardless of the reason, how does a parent handle this situation?
Hopefully your child is empathetic enough to be able to at least realize they are putting you through a torturous nightmare every night. This may help to curb the behavior for closer to the right reasons over punishment alone. Different parents are going to treat the situation differently, and different children are going to respond differently. Some parents are going to respond to their daughter’s irresponsibility with punishment and the removal of privileges. Others are going to add security features to the house to know when their daughter is escaping. There comes a point when some will consider the behavior running away and hospitalize their child for it.
The first goal is to keep your daughter safe. Whatever she is doing out there in the world, chances are pretty good it is not very safe or even very smart. Whatever measures a parent feels is necessary to keep their daughter safe outside of tying her to her bed or other abusive actions, has to be determined by the parent. Deciding that you can’t take it anymore and locking her out of the house is never going to solve the problem, and it is only going to drive her farther into the activity she is engaging in.
Once your daughter is safe, it is then time to start digging to the heart of the matter. Where it is that she goes every night is obviously very attractive to her, and chances are she is filling a void that she doesn’t know how to fill any other way. Finding that void is imperative. Understanding what is driving her away is imperative. This is not a problem that is going to be solved in a short period of time without a lot of work. This is a problem that will require an enormous amount of parental effort.
It is very scary when a teenage daughter does not come home at night. As a parent, it becomes your job to deter her from the activity while trying to help her grow through it, understand herself and why she is doing it, and to find other avenues to fill whatever she so desperately is trying to find in more creative and productive avenues.