Question: Dear Luise: I have a 15 year-old son that is involved with bad friends who smoke marijuana. He is not doing well in school and doesn’t listen to me or to his mother. We have decided to live outside the USA but he threatened us that he will not go into the airplane. Is there a law that can force the teenager to travel with the family? I know that in New York you could get a court order that would force the kid to go into the plane, but in Illinois they do not have this law. What can I do? Thanks, E
Answer: Dear E.: You seem to have looked into the law to some extent. Talking with a lawyer, if you haven’t already done so, might be wise. Even with a court order, your son might raise such a fuss that the airline wouldn’t allow him on the plane. He seems to have a strong sense of his ability to get his own way and, at15, you obviously can’t just pick him up and haul him off. Also, have you talked with the juvenile authorities about the situation?
I can think of four possible solutions, but again, I am not familiar with the law.
You could leave him behind and tell him to contact you when he has said his goodbyes and is ready to join the family and you will send him his non-refundable ticket. He might join you and he might hit the streets.
The opposite of that is you could put your move off for three years until he is of age. The danger in that is he might get a sense that he is in charge and make the next three years unbearable by constantly controlling you with further threats.
The compromise between those two options is that you might be able to board him with someone for the next three years and proceed with your move. There’s a slim chance, however, that anyone would want to take him in if they knew his behavior patterns or that they would want to keep him if they didn’t know and later found out.
There is also the possibility that you could enroll him in a private school that deals with difficult children. That works sometimes but it backfires at other times because classmates can be a continued bad influence, just like those he left behind were.
We all know how tough being a teen can be for everyone involved, not just the child. Your son is already headed for trouble. Most kids don’t want to move at that age but I don’t think many would put themselves in the driver’s seat as he has done. If you can find a way to turn him around, and you would probably need professional help to even know where to begin, his strong character might turn out to be an asset. Blessings, Luise