The return of your child can give rise to strong emotional reactions, both for the child and for you. At this point, a conversation is inevitable. This will permit you to zero in on the meaning of the act, to identify ways to approach a solution and to prevent a repetition of the situation. Thus, it is important to gather your thoughts before your child comes home in order to exteriorize your emotions and to avoid their taking over during your discussion with him or her.
You could, for example, make a list of your emotions and what you would like to say to your child. Take note of what you felt during his or her absence and how you saw the situation and; or what your think their running away meant. Think about realistic possible solutions, about your limits and about aspects that you consider negotiable. Here are some questions that you can ask your child in order to open this discussion about running away: How do you feel at this moment? How do you feel about what has happened while you were away? What does running away represent for you? What did you learn while you were gone? Were your needs met? Were there pleasant moments? Difficult moments? Do you have something you want to tell me?
Communication with your child is your best bet but it requires time, space and the necessary energy. When your child comes back, take the time to welcome him or her and to decompress before making a discussion. Explain that you are relieved that she or he is home and suggest comforting things: a shower, a good meal and a good night’s sleep. Don’t rush the discussion. It could even take place in several steps. If you find it difficult with talk to your child, you could suggest inviting a third party to facilitate communication.