Why does your teen sneak out of the house?

As a teen growing up in the 80s, I had a curfew like most teens did. I never thought of breaking that curfew or disobeying my parents. It just wasn’t done. It’s called respect.

I recall the many times Olivia as a teen would sneak out of the house through her bedroom window unbeknownst to her father and I.  At first, I didn’t know because as a parent you assume your childsneaking out is sound asleep. It wasn’t until I saw her screen popped out of her window that I questioned her.  She said,  “The wind probably did it.”   Hmm.. the wind isn’t that strong but we want to believe and trust our kids.

In addition, I have an alarm in the house so there is no way she could get out of her window without the alarm going off. Even if she disarmed the alarm, I would hear her doing it. Well, one day as I was cleaning her room, I noticed the sensor for the window alarm was off. I knew right then and there Olivia was sneaking out. So the question became…how do I confront her?

I showed Olivia the window and the sensor that was removed.  Crazy enough, she said “Oh, it broke and fell off.”  Okay, I’ll bite, and I went along with her response knowing she was lying. I said I would glue the sensor and if it was off again, I would know it was because she removed it. Every day I would check it until, you guessed it, one day it was off again. I confronted Olivia and told her to stop lying. I told her I knew she was sneaking out and she should just be honest about it.

Well, she decided to be honest. All her friends had later curfews and were still out while she had to be home because her curfew was earlier.  Olivia was a freshman and her friends were juniors and seniors, so of course their curfew was later!!  I told Olivia that lying to her dad and me was no way to gain trust or get her curfew changed. Just the opposite,  we would make it earlier.  Mind you, Olivia had a decent curfew for a 15 year old. I think midnight for a 9th grader is  more than generous, but to a teen it’s never late enough.

There were times Olivia got creative. She would put pillows in her bed to make it look like she was sleeping, or she would take the screen and hide it under her bed.  We changed her door handles to ones without locks so she couldn’t lock herself in her room. We eventually locked her window so she couldn’t sneak out, but even then she found a way to unlock it. Our last resort was putting the hurricane shutters up on her window. Now, she couldn’t sneak out. It was sad we had to do this, but unfortunately her actions caused these extreme consequences. Olivia was grounded and had to earn the trust back. It was a tough,  long road gaining that back. We spoke to her about the rules of the house and having respect enough to obey them. But rules to a teen are just something they want to break, not adhere to.

Olivia is now 18 and when I remind her of when she use to sneak out,  she acts as if it was 10 years ago when she was a kid so it doesn’t matter. I quickly correct her and tell her it was only three years ago.  The point I make is that while mentally to her it feels like long ago because she has grown up physically, it wasn’t that long ago. To me, it seems like yesterday. I don’t miss that at all.

I asked some ofsneakingout my friends if they ever snuck out as teens, and by gosh, some did! I guess I was the only one with a guilty conscience and enough respect for my parents wishes not to do it.

I have to ask all the parents and teens out there… Has your teen ever snuck out, and if so, why?  Rebellion? Friends? Parties? Boyfriend? Girlfriend?  Or, just because they could? It baffles me how teens could have little to no respect for their parents wishes.  Is it just a teen stage that many of them go through?

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  1. M Woodly March 9, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Oh yes, my teen snuck out at 15, and had a long road to regain trust. As a freshman, she also had junior friends from theater who could all stay out later than her. She is about to turn 18 and is in a different place.
    Interestingly, I also snuck out when I was a teen, but haven’t confessed this to my daughter yet. I snuck out to see my boyfriend. I didn’t feel at the time that I was disrespecting my dad and step-mom, but my husband and I sure felt disrespected when it happened to us!

    1. mominthesprings March 10, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Amazing how we see things different once WE are the adults! Stinks huh? Happy your 18 year old is in a different place as is mine.

  2. Mom.in.training March 10, 2016 at 10:50 am

    We Recently found out our 15 year old daughter snuck out to spend the night with her boyfriend. She also had him sneak in(once, twice?) while my husband and I were gone on a getaway and my mother was staying with the kids. When we confronted her, she lied straight to our face until I looked straight back at her and said, “why do you think we’re asking?” She then tried to “wiggle” out of the lie but the jig was up. We told her we weren’t angry as much as hurt, disappointed and frankly, shocked that she could do this and break such an important bond of trust. It’s a long way back to earn it again. We’re working on it. The mother of the teen boy involved and my husband and I sat down all together and went over events with them. Both swear “nothing happened” -and this I do believe as I can see certain “tells” when she’s lying (I read your blog on teens spending the nights together). We also had them go to the friends and their parents homes that they involved in their concoction and apologize. My daughter looked awful and remorseful when she had to see the effect it had on others other than her parents.
    We’re still on the mend. There are good days and days I ever want to go through again. Thank goodness for this blog!

    1. mominthesprings March 10, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      So glad to hear what you are doing momintraining! Sounds like you have a great plan and its always a work in progress! So happy you like our blog! Keep following. More to come!!

  3. mum.in.despair March 29, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    My 16 year old son disappears out of our house at night on a regular basis, and because there are numerous doors and windows he can get out and in, it is impossible to stop him. To make it worse, he insists that he has every right to go out in the middle of the night if he wants to, that he does it because he can’t sleep and gets anxious, and that I should just calm down and go to sleep (?!) It is usually on the weekend, but also sometimes during the week, and he then doesn’t go to school the next day.
    I have always had rules, boundaries, consequences, family dinners at the table every night, quality time with each child, etc. etc. But this son has got to the stage where he’s realised that if he chooses to do something, we have no way of stopping him. Because of his behaviour he gets no money from us, no internet at night, no lifts anywhere, and we’ve tried removing all his favourite things, but to no avail. If I wake up in the middle of the night and find him gone, I go around and lock up the house, but he just sleeps on the deck when he gets back until morning.
    I am supposed to be looking for a job but am so stressed that I can’t focus on getting into a new role since being made redundant 5 months ago. So yes, there is stress in the house, but in large part due to my son’s behaviour.
    I’m interested what other parents would do in these circumstances. The advice I’ve had – police youth aide and social worker said throw him out permanently, family therapist said ignore it and focus on what he’s doing right.
    Incidentally, my older son, now at university and doing well, went through a brief of sneaking out at about 13. When a stern warning and then removal of his beloved technology didn’t work, we emptied his room of everything except his bedding, guitar, and school bag, and he had to come and ask us when he needed clean clothes to wear. I think the idea was that he’d have to walk the streets in his boxers should he choose to sneak out. Yes it was draconian, but he got the message very quickly not to do it again. I asked him recently what he thought we should do about his younger brother sneaking out all the time and he said ‘it’s just a phase, I got over it, he will too when he works out he needs to sleep’.

    1. Kelvin March 31, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      This is so hard on so many levels. I hope you get a lot of feedback with some constructive ideas. I think both ideas you were given have merit. Is he capable of having a discussion with you or is he consistently on the defense? If he’s able to sit and have a calm conversation with you (and I tell my kids by “conversation” it means both parties actively and calmly contributing) maybe you could ask why he feels this need to break out… Yes, the “sleeplessness/restlessness”… Is it due to anxiety? If he agrees then what does he feel is making him anxious? You can acknowledge the stress you’re under trying to find a job to provide for your family and is he taking that personally? If he is, then maybe instead of leaving the house -which just increases stress for everyone, he can come talk to you about it instead. You can just listen to him if that’s what he needs. Leaving the house at night is dangerous even if he feels it’s safe. If he insists its his prerogative to continue despite your misgivings and/or house rules, then calmly suggest to him that if he wants more adult “freedoms” then it will come with adult responsibilities. Tell him what his room and board cost will be. Share the utilities bills with him. Some kids are mature before their years and seem to flourish with the workload. Others realize it’s much better, safer and easier to stay a kid for a while longer. Again, I’m sorry hear this and I don’t know if my opinion was any help. It’s a tough, stressful and exhausting time. I hope you’re older son is right when he says he’ll grow out of it soon when he chooses sleep over stepping out. Until then, I hope he stays safe and you get some peace soon.

      1. mum.in.despair April 14, 2016 at 8:31 pm

        Thanks Kelvin. I appreciate your thoughts. I have tried talking to my son about why he sneaks out, what’s making him anxious etc but have not made any progress. I agree trying to keep communication channels open is very important though, and I do my best to do that.
        However, time certainly never stands still particularly with a teen in the house. Since posting this, my 16 year old has been badly shaken by some accusations (all false as it turns out) of taking a car unlawfully, wreckless driving causing damage, having sex with a minor, and using class A drugs, all supposedly happening one night while he had sneaked out of the house. While the owner of the car resisted going to the police, I insisted that it was the right thing to do – which was lucky as it turned out it was the owner’s 15 year old daughter who took the car, drove it, picked up my son and 2 others, wrecked the car, and then made false statements to the police accusing my son of doing the driving and drug taking. Thankfully my son and others had texts and messages to show that she picked them up in the car and had done it a few times before… Incidentally, the sex allegation came from the father who found a condom in the car, and having been told by his daughter there was only the two of them in the car, he assumed they had sex. My son had texts to show the girl had brought the condom along to do a trick with it hanging out the window and fill up with air (why?) that they’d seen on you tube – which all just goes to show how easy people can jump to wrong conclusions and for a teen to unwittingly end up accused of serious crimes when thinking they are just ‘going for a hoon’.
        Anyway, since then he has been mostly at home at night, going to school each day, doing his jobs around the house…fingers crossed he has learned an important lesson but just for today, I am enjoying a bit of peace.

  4. Ashton Larusso May 14, 2018 at 6:33 am

    I feel like more young people need to add to this conversation or at least adults that used to sneak out like this. To people who have forgotten what it’s like to be young or people who never even dreamed of breaking rules as a teen it is hard to understand.

    1. Lacy Modlin July 3, 2020 at 8:22 am

      I am 18 and I have a younger brother who is 16. I have never snuck out before. I always obeyed the rules. I had a phase where I was not the nicest to my mom but have gladly gotten past most of that. My brother on the other hand is the complete opposite. The second time he snuck out was to meet a girl he liked. That was his first kiss. On his way back home a cop was about to pull over next to him. He thought he was in trouble so he ran. (Total face slap) well that night my mom got a call about him and she needed to pick him up. The first time I heard about him sneaking out was actually from a friend of mine who also snuck out a lot. He saw him at Safeway with a friend. I confronted him about it and he got mad at my friend for telling me and got mad at me for being upset at him lol. He wouldn’t listen to me so I told my mom, but told her not to tell him it was me who told her. Obviously didn’t learn his lesson. Now he sneaks out more and just does not care what my mom has to say. It feels like my mom is powerless in this situation so I try to help out but it just destroys my relationship with him and makes him not want to tell me anything. Now I am currently up writing about this because he snuck out and I am worried that something will happen and no one will be awake to help him. I have an exam tomorrow too.

  5. Angel August 10, 2018 at 8:29 am

    i’ve snuck out of my house before, and i’m 14, a year younger than what ur daughter was when she did it. to me its not to be rebellious against my parents, its just the exhilarating feeling of having freedom and going places without your parents always going with you because they think ur too young. plus ur daughter had it easier then what i have, she had a window that could open so she could climb out, i don’t have that, i have the front door and believe me its alot harder to get out the front door than a damn window. but for me its the feeling of freedom and being able to breathe without my parents around me 24/7. although everyone has their different reasons to sneaking out that’s my reason for doing so.

    1. Alicia Lala October 19, 2019 at 10:44 pm

      I have just turned 16 years old but I first started sneaking out when I was 15. My parents are very strict and have strong beliefs. You guys talk about having a curfew to abide by? Well I don’t even have a curfew. While all my friends are allowed to have boys around, go to parties, drink under safe circumstances, I am not even allowed to go to a friends house for a sleepover. Yes, I understand that all they want is to protect me but my mum and dad used to sneak out as children. They can’t remember what its like to be a teenager. Yesterday night my friend invited me to a party. I snuck out at 10pm and sure enough, I get a phone call from my mum about 10 minutes later. She takes my phone and sure enough, finds everything on there such as messages exchanged between me and my ex-boyfriend. Ive been searching every website just trying to find out why I am so rebellious because I, myself don’t even know. I think its because I want to prove to my parents that I can be responsible and make the right decisions if only they gave me a chance to prove to them I could. My dad will get home today only to look at his screwed up daughter and proceed to go about the situation the wrong way. Yelling at me, taking away any form of communication between my friends and I, being even tighter on our rules (if thats even possible), and never being able to give me the freedom that I was searching for in the first place.

  6. Nese December 1, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    Hi everyone, can we hear more from the younger ones out there to say why they sneak out of the house while parents are asleep?

  7. Cassie Davies February 9, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    I’m a 17 year old girl and I have been sneaking out of the house since I turned 15. I never snuck out prior to meeting my first boyfriend and he had a car so it was easy to hop out of the window, go somewhere away from my neighborhood and return a few hours later. for a while I never got caught because I waited until I knew everybody was sleeping and would stay asleep, and I only snuck out occasionally. But I guess I thought I was invincible because I started sneaking out every day, and of course I started getting caught. My parents (bless them) tried everything: security systems, window locks, taking my phone at night (which never works—especially if you have an iPhone and MacBook) , but to no avail. I kept sneaking out despite getting yelled at every day, getting grounded, having strict chores, etc.. I think I snuck out (and continue to sneak out) because parents are too overbearing sometimes. i Understand parents want their kids to be safe and responsible. But how do you expect them to LEARN how to make good choices if you do not let them experience real life? Kids are curious and want a taste of what’s to come or what could be, so let them have it. If you guys TRULY “want to trust your kids” then put some faith in them and let them do adult things (like hanging out with friends close by the house at 4AM) …As long as you are aware of who they hang around and the places they go, I don’t understand WHY PARENTS FREAK OUT when their kid sneak out—especially in this technologically savvy era where locations can be easily tracked. If the kid wants to get shitfaced and rob a bank, obviously you cannot let them leave. But if your kid just want to hang out with his girlfriend or go to Denny’s with her cheer friends at 2AM I honestly do not see what the issue is AT ALL. You can keep your kid locked up in their room on punishment. But I can promise you they are going want to continue more than ever before, and it’s more than likely you will be back at square one again.

  8. CS March 17, 2019 at 1:40 am

    I am 13, I sneak out with friends at sleepovers, no matter whose house it is. Nobody has found out yet, but we know it’s a ticking time bomb. We do things like ding dong ditch, egg & TP houses, play tag, hide and seek, do challenges, and do loud and suspicious things like throwing rocks at signs so the cops get called and we have fun running away or annoying them. We do it for excitement and fun.
    Sometimes I sneak out by myself whenever I feel anxious and climb trees.

  9. Sam March 31, 2019 at 7:53 am

    I’m 21 and I have extremely strict parents. Can’t do anything as long as I am living under their roof. And in my culture we don’t simply move out when we want to. I’m not even allowed to go to sleep overs. Everyone my age is out having fun enjoying their 20s and I feel like the last resort I have left is to sneak out if I want to be able to go out and have fun. My curfew is 10 pm, and that’s only because I work most days til 9:30pm.

  10. Jocelyn June 16, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    I have an almost 17 year old daughter who has been sneaking out. She finally fessed up and was honest about where she goes (to a friends to play video games). My daughter also has anxiety and depression. She feels we should treat her like an adult and she should be able to go out if she wants. My husband who tries to be very controlling has threatened to remove her bedroom door, which I feel isn’t right. I have set a curfew for 11pm weekends when she is with her boyfriend and 9pm school nights. She doesn’t sneak out to go see her boyfriend it’s her friend who is a boy she hangs out with. I’m kinda at a crossroad with this one. I kinda feel like as long as she is at someone’s house and is safe it should be ok. My husband would not be on the same page. Any advice?

  11. Alexis August 14, 2019 at 2:39 am

    I’m a 14 year old. I snuck out yesterday nighy and stupidly got caught because of my phone. I only went outside with a neighborhood friend(also 14) and we went on a walk. Let alone we stayed in the neighborhood and we stayed alert. It felt nice for once to get that rush if nervousness that I’ve never had experienced before. My mom talked to my friends mom and bless her heart calmed my mom down. She was very mad and i realize I am a very difficult child. I have done things to make me lose her trust and I think I’ve done everthing I’ve wanted to do so i can start earning it back. But Parents dont be to hard on your kids. You need to remember you were a teen once and remeber what it was like, all the pressure from your parents to be perfect and do everything right.

  12. Alexia March 27, 2020 at 4:01 am

    I definitely sunk out as a teen and that’s because I was stressed all the time and I didnt know how to handle it so I went out for walks when I was over thinking things that just weren’t as important as I thought

  13. Sonnie R April 7, 2020 at 8:39 am

    For us, the problem is trust. Our son is 18 1/2 and is still sneaky and lies. He does things to gain our trust and meet us half way, then every few days something dumb like staying out for 6-10 hours, smoking pot, failing his college assignments due to not doing homework, taking the car at night without permission and lying about it. It’s very frustrating for us parents. We love him and support him as much as we can. He never learns from his mistakes. He’s been this way since he turned 16. We’ve already taken away the car, but the phone is difficult as he uses a password, and guards it so we can’t take it. He’s been through all kinds of enforced trainings such as diversion. We threatened to kick him out, even brought a suitcase into the house, which did get him studying. He does work p/t but lost his job due to Covid 19. In our state, 19 is the legal age. We are up most of the night worrying about him and he also doesn’t sleep well, often up till the wee hours most nights. He’s an only child and we neither spoil nor dote on him, and do enforce consequences.
    Please help.

  14. Eden May 3, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    I’m 16 years old and I definitely sneak out a bit. My main family is made up of just my dad and my grandmother so it’s fairly easy to get away with. I don’t hold any hate or grudge of any kind toward my family, well, maybe the tiniest bit but most people do. My dad isn’t very strict compared to most parents, as long as i keep my grades up he doesn’t care much. The reason I sneak out though most of the time is because he does still enforce a random curfew, some nights the curfew is 12, others its 9. Currently though the curfew has been earlier and earlier, even before this covid-19 stuff was happening.
    When I do decide to escape the house, It’s of course always on those night where I have trouble sleeping at around 1 or 2 AM. It’s never really planned at all and just when my friend is also up and bored, she sends me a message at a early hour and I reply then it’s set in stone. I just open the window, pop out the screen and jump out of it then wait for her to drive up on the other side of the road.
    We never did anything too crazy, just head to her house or someplace to grab food. We’d relax, chat, watch some Netflix but that’s about it. We both have nights of sleeplessness so we figured why not be with each other in person. That’s my main reason for doing what I do, no other reasons really other than having a little thrill, freedom, and fear. I also get a little quiet time for myself when I walk home, she falls asleep pretty fast whenever I come over so I never have a ride back.
    Anyway, I really don’t think it matters if you are or aren’t strict, your kid will likely sneak out either way. Either for relaxation, hang out with friends, or to do dumb stuff like sneak into pools or maybe steal street signs. Really any reason at all, it’s apart of a lot of peoples teenage life.
    An added comment, as a teenager myself, I of course have respect for my dad but that doesn’t really mean anything to me other than the fact that i think my dad has an amazing word ethic and is very hard working. besides that, my thought process is that I’m a few years from being free and I’m practicing for the day when I’m 18 and don’t have to deal with the two people I love and hate most in the world.

  15. S D June 4, 2020 at 11:18 am

    Grateful to have found this blog and am here because our 15 year old daughter is leaving the house at some point in the night and is gone for hours. We’ve had several discussions with her about how we feel, how she feels, why she is doing it, what we can do to help, etc.

    I’m leaving out a lot of our interactions/consequences because they’re exactly what other folks here have posted. I don’t want to do nothing because it’s a safety issue. But sometimes I wonder what the point of grounding is. She has been grounded over and over again, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. She has had her phone taken away for days and it doesn’t seem to make a difference. She has been given work to do and she does it but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. What is going to make a difference??

  16. nw1gigphotography@gmail.com July 27, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    I was a nightmare teen. I started sneaking out my bedroom window from 15-18 as I wasn’t allowed out after dark. I had a doll with similar hair to me, which I used to position in the bed with pillows, then I’d leave the radio on so it muffled the sounds. I also used to sneak guys in and lock the door. I hid one in the cupboard feeding him chicken wings during a family birthday that started early the next day. I’m sure he’s still traumatised poor bloke!! I never got caught until my aunt who was visiting put a window box right outside my window. I opened the window and it fell onto the ground. My aunt knew what I was up to, my parents never did. I was even once involved in a bad car accident where I suffered whiplash and I still climbed back in the window without them noticing. they were very strict religious and controlling. I think if they’d been more laid back I might not have bothered. I also sneaked out into the woods to meet my French boyfriend how was camping there with tea towel around my head to avoid neighbours noticing me… 47 now and no regrets.


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