Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

What to do when an upset teen is at the door

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My daughter, an almost-single working mother of two teens, recently relayed a scenario, which she said she didn't know how to handle. She said she didn't have any training or previous experience with this sort of thing.

My daughter was going to bed when the doorbell rang. A friend of her 15-year-old son's was at the door. He was crying, saying his parents had kicked him out of the house.

My daughter has to get up very early for work, so she could not stay up and talk to the friend.

She did allow him to come in, and reminded both kids that it was a school night.

She said the boy was gone in the morning when she left for work, but she wondered what should have been the right course of action. She does not know the friend's parents.

I'd like your take on this, and your advice.

-- Wondering

Dear Wondering: I cannot imagine greeting a crying 15-year-old boy at the door at night and not trying to console him, reassure him or even find out if he is basically OK. Allowing this boy to spend the night was generous, but it would have taken between 10 to 30 minutes to make this kid a cup of tea, and ask him some basic questions: Are you safe? Do you want me to call/text your parents to tell them where you are? Can you talk to the school counselor tomorrow?

Neighbors, aunts and uncles, and the parents of friends can be heroes to adolescents going through rough times. Many times, a glimpse into another family's healthier way of functioning can help a kid to understand that all is not lost, and that there is safe harbor during rough seas.

Your own daughter's behavior on that night would have reinforced some unfortunate assumptions this boy might have about adults: That they just don't care all that much.

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