Dear Dr. Wallace:

I’m 16 and I truly dislike my parents. All we do is fight and argue about everything. They hate my friends, the way I dress, the way I wear my hair, the way I study and, finally, my grades, even though I’m a solid B student. My best friend also is having major problems with her parents and has asked me to run away with her. She has a cousin in Austin, Texas, who said that we could live near her extended family if we can get there. She thinks one of her cousins will give us a little money to help us get started once we are there, but I’m not sure if that is really going to be the case. We have enough money together to ride the bus to Austin. Of course, I’ve changed my age, name and where I would go if I do run away. LOL, Austin would not be our final destination, so don’t look for us there! We are not dumb enough to give out our real information. I’m torn about this because I kind of want to go, but I also have second thoughts. How tough can it really be to live on your own? A lot of young people seem to do it.

— Had Enough,

via email

Dear Had Enough: Running away from home is never the answer and only compounds problems. Do all you can to make things better at home with your family. Seek help from school counselors, relatives, friends of your parents and clergy members if you have them and are open to that. A family should do everything possible to stay together and to live in harmony. Please read the following letter from a young lady who ran away from home when she was 16. It’s not a happy story:

Dear Dr: Wallace: I hope my story can help any young lady who has thoughts of running away from home.

When I was 16, I ran away from home over a petty hassle with my parents. I met a big, good-looking guy on the bus, but after a few months, he dumped me in a strange town, leaving me broke (he had stolen all my money), bruised (he had beaten me) and pregnant.

For over a week, I wandered between bus stations, train stations and various businesses trying to find him, find work for myself, and find food and shelter. I had lived in Sacramento, California, but I was off in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Too embarrassed to return home, I went to live with a girlfriend who was also pregnant and without a husband. I had my babies (twins!), and I went through garbage cans looking for aluminum cans and returnable plastic bottles to give them food and shelter.

Our early life consisted of welfare offices, hand-me-down ragged clothes and rickety, run-down shacks in slum neighborhoods. We shared our living quarters with disgusting cockroaches and rats. Needless to say, these “homes” were void of heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer. The whole experience was a living nightmare, and, I must say, a living hell.

I now have a responsible husband. He brought his son and daughter into our marriage, and together we now have a 3-year-old son. That’s five children overall, but it is unbelievable to me how happy all seven of us are as a family.

I believe you are doing a good job by printing stories like mine. Hopefully it’s not a thankless one.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.