OK first, it depends on what state he is from/in on whether the girl is underage or not....in some states the age of consent is 14.
Second, it is a fact that boys mature later than girls and some boys at 18 are not mature enough to handle the pressure of school piled on top of being away from home. Yes, even if they are staying with family.
Third, just because someone is homesick does not mean they are clinically depressed and in a fragile state. Lots of people suffer homesickness and drop out of school within the first three months...some people realize that their 'lifelong dream' of attending a certain school is not at all like the ivory tower they built in their dream.
Did you ever speak to him and ask him just exactly what the case was? I'm not sure what you needed the 'tough love' for but at 18 and an adult it would be his choice to stay or go. And it seems like you negated his feelings by making it difficult for him to go hence causing the communication breakdown leaving him no option but to arrange his own way home and then lying about it because he obviously felt he could no longer talk to you.
You must keep the lines of communication open and don't judge him for his actions but let him know you still love him and are sorry for the way things turned out and hope he finds happiness and fulfillment.
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I know it's hard, his discussions, my land him in legal trouble, as 18 is an Adult and 16 is a minor. I have no words of wisdom that will change the situation. Know you are not alone. Many walk in your shoes, we pray for the good for all concerned and wait to provide a soft place to fall. And he will fall, don't be judgemental and harsh, or you will lose him forever, do establish ground rules, return to school, get job, pay back funds etc
Our very polite and fun loving18 yo grandson came to live with us to go to school, his lifelong dream. Managed to via text and phone get involved with a 16 yo girl back in home state. We immediately saw a change in him, but it got worse quickly. No he was not on drugs he was love struck. I also knew he was extremely depressed so made him was in he process of making him an appointment to see a doc. My neighbor called me at work and asked if I was aware he was leaving, no I wasn't. He sold his favorite things, and bought a ticket home, but it was going to be a long route and he would have to go by air then bus so that tells you how determined he was. The hurt is this; we know he is extremely depressed and not of his right mind, he left in such a way that he lied to all of us up until hours before he left and did not even say goodbye to his other grandparents or father. Those of us in town were the only ones left at home. I cannot stress enough there were no drugs involved just someone to love and under aged. We did the tough love and did not provide one thing to make his venture easy. It isn't just the hurt but the worry we will lose him after a wonderful 18 years of joy with him, traveling the US and summer trips. So I have great memories just an extreme amount of sadness (not comparable to his) but even harder is the worry about his well being and fragile frame of mind.
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