I had a call from a scared and concerned mother today. It stared with “How could a minister have a run away stay at your home and not even call his mother?” Well that caught me off guard. For the record I have not heard from or seen the kid for a few days. Apparently she had heard that he either had been, or is going to stay at my home.
Nevertheless, I did know this Youth had run away from home since Wednesday Church. I will not go into all the details of the situation. But this town has been a series of firsts for me, and I wish I would have handled things differently. To be clear I did offer to allow this youth to stay at my home so that he would not have to sleep on the street. I stand by this, I’m not a parent, but if my kid did leave home I would hope a responsible adult would care for them. I would also expect a phone call, as this mother rightly expected from me (even though she was misinformed). I also offered to go with this youth to his parents, so they could talk.
Now for the coulda-shoulda-woulda: When I learned of the situation the first thing I did was go to my pastor for his advice. The family has been occasionally attending our church. He advised against me immediately contacting his parents and to allow the situation to resolve itself and people to calm down. Maybe he was right, he has been doing this for a long time, but I am still upset that I didn’t follow my instincts and go visit the parents. What I’m really beating myself up about is that I didn’t follow up at all with the parents. Which resulted in a misunderstanding that resulted in a loss of credibility with this family.
I do know what I’ll do next time:
- I will contact the parent(s) of the runaway as soon as I learn of the situation to know both sides issue.
- I will still extend an invitation to the youth to have a place to stay, with the understanding that I will let the parents know their child is safe. (I think this condition is the main reason that the offer was not taken up on)
- I will try to facilitate communication between parent and child.
- I will do everything I can to ensure the safety of the child. If necessary by contacting CPS, or Law Enforcement.
I’m going to write out a very clear policy for myself, so that if this kind of thing happens again I can handle it better. I’m now just praying for all involved.