“He [Harry Potter] could run, and no one would ever know he had been there. But he couldn’t just leave them lying here… He had to get help… Would anyone believe he hadn’t had anything to do with this?”
– Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
In this chapter of The Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter finds himself in a bad situation. It’s not something that he caused. However, if he’s caught in the situation, he knows he will be in serious trouble. The issue is overwhelming and scary with a choice. Does he run away or confront the problem?
Have you ever been in so much trouble you don’t know what to do? Has something ever happened to you that wasn’t your fault and it made you feel not just scared but overwhelmed?
One of my child came to me one day having had a rough day, the kind of day where you don’t feel like you can do anything right. My dear child had managed to be caught up in some big events that upset some friends close to our family and the rest of the day was normal small things like fighting with siblings. Unfortunately, my wife and I were quite busy with work that day and were getting frustrated by having to stop our work to break up arguments.
My child entered my office crying heavily and declared, “You have to stop me! I want to runaway so I don’t hurt anyone!”
Why Would Anyone Run Away from a Loving Home?
- Feeling Unwanted
People, adults and kids, don’t want to be in a place where they think others don’t like them or want them.
- Problems Too Big
If it doesn’t seem like there is a way to make a problem better, you just want to get away from it.
- Stop the Hurting
When someone feels that they’re on their own with problems, they just want to get away from hurting feelings.
I stopped typing at my computer and told my child, “I would be awfully sad if you ran away. We love you. What do you need right now?”
“I need to feel loved and know that I’m safe.”
“I don’t think running away is going to help you feel safe.”
“I won’t hurt anyone that I love anymore though. I’ll be away from everyone.”
“No one is designed to be alone…”
Through further conversation we discovered that running away wasn’t going to solve any of the issues that the child was worried about that day. I assured the child that our family was proud of them. I also assured the child that mom and dad were working out the relationship aspect of the problem. We hugged.
- My child FELT wanted and loved
- My child FELT like other people were with the child
- My child FELT like the issue could be handled
- We DID NOT solve the problem right then
What Should I Do When I Want to Run Away?
- Know You’re Normal
Everyone feels like running away at some point because everyone has been in a situation where the problem seems overwhelming.
- What Do You Need?
When people, kids and adults, feel overwhelmed by a problem, it triggers feelings. What do you need to handle these feelings? Do you need a hug? Do you need someone to tell you that you’re beautiful or smart? Do you need someone to say that you’re important? Do you just need someone to listen to you talk? Do you need to hear some advice?
- Involve Safe People
Safe and loving people want to hear what you need. They want you to feel safe and loved. They want to see you get past your problem. Safe people want to help you.
It’s Your Turn – What Would You Do?:
Sara is in foster care and just moved in with Mr. and Mrs. Johnson this week. This is her fourth foster home. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson seem like really nice people and they are glad to have Sara living with them in their home. Like with any home the Johnsons have some different rules than she is used to and things are rough with visits to her birth mom.
This morning Sara woke up late and is hurrying to get ready for school. She quickly pours cereal and milk into a bowl. Mrs. Johnson walks into the kitchen and scolds Sara for using her special dairy free milk. Sara apologizes and runs upstairs to get dressed. Mr. Johnson quickly tells Sara that there is No Running in their house. Sara apologizes. As she quickly walks to the front door to get the school bus. Mrs. Johnson comes to give her a hug. Mrs. Johnson notices that Sara didn’t brush her teeth and scolds Sara again.
The rest of the day isn’t much better. Sara failed a quiz in history and got into a fight when another girl called her stupid. The worst part of the day was that a woman from the school office delivered Sara a note during her final class that told Sara that her birth mother had canceled their visit for this afternoon so Sara should ride the bus back to the Johnson’s home.
You have quickly become friends with Sara during her short time at your school. She passes you a note in class saying, “Remember everything I told you about my day? Now my mom doesn’t even want to see me. This will be the last time you see me. After school, I’m running away.”
- Why does Sara want to run away from the Johnsons?
- What do you think Sara needs?
- What can you say to Sara?
- Who are safe adults Sara should talk to?