It is said every year, there are about 9% of teenagers running away, among whom 20% come back within 24 hours and 20% will disappear forever. And in the Asian immigrant community I’m living in, I’ve heard several incidents of it. People probably tend to think that boys are more likely to run away, but that’s not the case with stories I’ve heard–girls are just as independent and reckless as boys.
Recently, there’s a local case that really caught my attention. A teenage boy of about 14-years-old ran away from home and hid in his girlfriend’s place. After a prolonged period of absence, he came back. A reporter came to interview the family and the mother showed up in front of the camera. She complained about how hard it was for her husband to endure neighbor’s constant suspicion and people’s speculation. He even felt ashamed of it since people would talk about him not being a good father. Such a runaway was very hard for the family. Then she berated the girlfriend’s parents who didn’t take the initiative to contact them and said very firmly that the girl’s parents should be in jail.
Here the reporter cut in and said, “the police actually did an investigation. At one point, they even knocked on the girl’s door, but only to be turned away.” The mother budged in to add that the girlfriend’s parents are the real menace to the society and to law abiding family like her own. They should be put in jail.
I was a little surprised at the way the reporter and the mother were approaching this topic. They were basically claiming that the girlfriend’s parents are the perpetrators in this unfortunate event, who should be punished and shamed. And the boy’s parents were so innocent and so wronged that they should, if not earning a medal, at least get a public acknowledgement for being a victim or receive some great sympathy.
Throughout the two minutes interview, the mother didn’t mention once how the boy was doing. Was he famished? Was he maltreated by others? Was he being exposed to bad influence? Was he bullied by others? Was he in good health? I mean the boy’s welfare seemed to be the last thing the mother had in mind. Instead the mother was concentrating on how her husband’s image was shamefully tainted by the teen’s behavior, and how she wanted to wage a rightful revenge on the girlfriend’s parents–to put them in jail.
Another thing is that why the parents didn’t contact the girlfriend and her parents to do an investigation themselves? Shouldn’t a parent do that when the son run away? Let’s suppose that the son didn’t tell them about the girlfriend. If that’s the case, shouldn’t they talk to his peers and find out about this girlfriend? Isn’t that the easiest and most obvious thing to do (for a normal parent at least) when your son runs away?
As an amateur psychiatrist, I “diagnosed” that the mother is really a narcissist, but not a devious one. She is quite honest about her unconcern for the boy and her concern for her husband’s honorable name, towards which she has a stake and a share. A lot of narcissists would fake affection and devotion to the family in order to recruit enablers and flying monkeys, but this woman has no such agenda.
I wonder what people would think in this case. Is she really a victim? I am sorry I don’t see it. I feel that the boy is a real victim of narcissistic parenting…