By: Mangkholun Touthang
Running away from home is common among teenagers. Some run away and never return home. Study says almost all teens have thought about running away at least once. In Manipur, most runaway teenage boys often end up serving in any of the insurgent groups they are familiar with. I’ve known a lot of my teenage pals running away from their homes after some petty squabble with their parents and joining different rebel groups. For some weeks they’d be proud of the decision they’ve made since it contented them, but after some months they’d start to regret and beg their parents to get them out but most of them had to spend their entire lives there. Runaway young people who have made a choice like this one had to leave their homes for good, which is a very sad thing. But some return home after a few days. This group of runaways are those who leave the home owing to some misunderstandings with their parents or siblings but they never think of leaving the home for good. They must have made a better choice compared to the ones mentioned before. Either way, having a child run away from home is every parent’s worst nightmare. Children leave home as a result of their anger or dissatisfaction or to express their needs or to relieve their sufferings and burden but it’s the parents that always suffer and carry the burden of their absence. For some reason, it’d be easier for parents to bear the absence of kids who disappear only for a few days and then come back but for those who never make it back home, the agony of their parents would be indescribable. I’m not a parent but when I think of the hardship parents would go through over the permanent absence of their kids from home, it moves me as well.
Most teenagers run away because they just cannot cope with the restrictions set by their parents upon them. They want to be free and dominate the home. When they can’t get these, escaping the home becomes their only option. Without being aware of the consequences, they do whatever it takes to get away from the clutches of their parents. It would be contenting for them but before they return, every night becomes a sleepless night for their parents. And study says almost all runaways feel remorse over the choice they’ve made. And every single runaway I’ve known who returned home were welcomed by their parents. This teaches every kid that even though they use to make the bad choice of leaving home, parents are always willing to have them back. Of course kids sometimes run away because parents cannot meet their requirements or parents are a little hard on them but that doesn’t mean they are unloved or uncared, parents love is unconditional and no parents would want their kids to run off. This is vital for kids to keep in their minds. There is an interesting story in the Bible and it is the story of the Prodigal Son. In the story, a father has two sons. The younger one, being a little greedy and rush, asks his father to give him the portion of goods that falls to him. His father gives what his son asks for even though he knows it’d do him no good. So the son carries his possession with him in a faraway place and begins spending them recklessly. By the time he spent all his money a severe famine arose in that particular place. Now that he’s broke and empty he had to find himself a job to survive the famine. He does find a job and it’s to feed swine. That’s when he realises his stupidity. He regrets and recalls his luxurious life back in his father’s house. And so, he finally made a decision to return to his father’s house with a hope of his father making him one of his servants. So he comes back. And while he was still a great way off, his father sees him from afar and runs toward his lost son. His father must’ve waited for him everyday on that road. Now since he’s found his lost son, the father welcomes him with a great feast. That’s one good story showing the unconditional love of parents. Instead of waiting for his son to get to him, the father ran toward him, fell on his neck and kissed him.
Having a runaway from home not only hurts the parents but brings shame to the family. It makes the family look like a broken one. I remember the time when I frequently ran away from my home. It was during my teenhood. Everytime we had a quarrel in the home I ran away as though it was the only way to wash away my wrath and grief. I never thought about the effect it had on my family. People must’ve really looked down on all my family members because of the runaway habit that I had. Now when I look back, I feel so ashamed of myself. Teenagers should be taught the worthlessness of leaving home and what bad effect it has on the family and the teen himself. Parents should teach them that albeit there’d be squabbles or misunderstandings sometimes in the home, they are loved and cared and there are better options than to just run away. Teenagers should be often counselled and let me tell you one serious thing we lack in Manipur; counselling. Had we strongly encouraged adolescent counselling, I believe many teenagers who have gone in the wrong path coule be saved. Counsellings are far more helpful than we expect. Therefore, it’s time parents do whatever it takes to prevent their children from leaving home so they won’t regret in the days to come.