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To think small children in boarding schools aren’t there because they want to be?

(208 Posts)
SwearyG Sun 04-Feb-18 09:01:08

I am trying to unpick some of the gaslighting from my family at the moment and one of the things I am constantly told about being sent off to board at age 8 (I took the entrance exam on my eighth birthday) was that “you begged to go”.

I have no memory of this “begging” and neither does my DS (3 years older) but it is written into family lore and used by my parents as the reason that I was sent. I can’t make head nor tail of this as an adult as I certainly wouldn’t put that sort of decision in the hands of a child. It’s presented as my choice and nothing to do with them.

AIBU to think they’re gaslighting me and it was their choice to put me into boarding school, and not something any parent would do because their child asked or “begged”?

NataliaOsipova Sun 04-Feb-18 09:03:49

Can I ask why you think you were sent? Did they both have very demanding jobs? Work away a lot? Were there any family problems you can think of?

I think your own perception of events is the most valuable here....

jesstjoking Sun 04-Feb-18 09:04:53

Did your siblings also go? How old were they when they started?

HamishBamish Sun 04-Feb-18 09:04:53

It does sound suspicious. Was there a specific reason why you had to go? Did your parents live abroad or work in the forces?

springtimemoon Sun 04-Feb-18 09:06:46

I think it is quite common. Have you read We Remember Your Childhood Well?

SallyLockhartsDog Sun 04-Feb-18 09:06:48

No one would give an eight year old that choice.
Eleven -maybe.
Thirteen - yes.
Eight - no.
It sounds like they are trying to appease their own guilt.

Fekko Sun 04-Feb-18 09:07:18

Justifying their decision.

You want to go to he big school don’t you?
Oh you’ll love it at the big school
You will be with your friends...

You might have agreed that it would be fun to be with your friends and the myth took off.

My family is the same!

SwearyG Sun 04-Feb-18 09:08:33

My mother didn’t work and my father had a middle management type job. Older sister boarded, younger sister stayed home. No family problems I am aware of, parents still together now.

It’s the comments now of “you begged to go”that I don’t believe. Even had I begged (and I’m sure I didn’t) it has to have been far down the list of reasons. It’s been a few decades and the responsibility is still being put to me that the only reason I went was because I begged, which I just cannot imagine doing to a small child. I can think of other reasons that it might have been practical for me to board, but these are denied and the sole reason for boarding, according to my parents, was me begging. Which beggars belief, I think.

cuttingcarbonemissions Sun 04-Feb-18 09:09:27

You can manipulate small children into agreeing to anything - religion, political extremism, even terrorism. You only have to look at some of the boarding prep advertising to hear them all chanting the same mantra “ it’ s like one big sleep over” “ I love being with my friends” etc.
You probably did say you wanted to go - but at 7 or 8 you would gave said you wanted to go to Australia/ the moon/ join a convent if that had been the direction your parents wanted you to go in.

On early boarding, do bear in mind that your parents could have believed it was in your best interests to go - either for educational advantage or to mitigate family problems. They were also products of their environment.

Before everyone jumps on the anti junior boarding bandwagon, it is now VERY rare - and where it does exist, very different to what people experienced even 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

Itmakesthereaderreadon Sun 04-Feb-18 09:09:46

I'd read a lot of Malory Towers by that age and vividly remember begging to go. However, as we poor, there was no question of being allowed.

EssentialHummus Sun 04-Feb-18 09:10:05

I feel very sad for you OP, I understand your stress/anger at wanting to see how they reached this decision.

No, this isn't the sort of decision that a child that age can make for themselves.

I had something similar with my parents - lots of quite complex decisions (pets, private school, being sent away to relatives at 12) attributed to me, with anger at me for the consequences. In my case it reflects a poor relationship with my parents that has been poor forever.

NorthStarGrassman Sun 04-Feb-18 09:10:49

I have a similar situation, although less extreme than yours. I went as 11 and was always told it was a decision we all made together and I thought it was the right thing to do. I believed this for years. It was only in my 30s with kids of my own that I realised this was bollocks - 10 year olds can’t make that kind of decision and properly understand what they’re signing up to. I do remember my mum telling me that if I didn’t go they’d have to come back to the uk and my dad would be miserable and she’d have to go out to work. As I had been brought up to believe these were just about the two worst things that could happen in the world there wasn’t really much of a choice!

I was also in my 30s before I realised that she was actually telling me my dad would be more miserable living in the uk than he would be not seeing me for 3 months at a time.

Fekko Sun 04-Feb-18 09:11:36

I always demanded red shoes apparently. A teeny shoe was found in the attic and shown as evidence of my demands. It was tiny and could’ve only fitted a pre walker! I don’t even remember having any red shoes (apart from a pair of taps when I was about 6)

1ndig0 Sun 04-Feb-18 09:12:22

I have come across this OP (apparently DH "couldn't wait to go" shortly after his 7th birthday either). hmm I'm not sure about gas lighting so much, more delusional on the part of your parents maybe? We all have to convince ourselves that we're doing the right thing for out DC. It reminds me of parents whose 6 month old babies "absolutely adore" being in nursery 60 hours a week. An eight-year old can't have a realistic concept of what being away from home actually entails. I think they get sold a "script" - "You'll make so many friends" etc and they have to go with it because what else do they really know?

StickThatInYourPipe Sun 04-Feb-18 09:12:37


Haha same!

NataliaOsipova Sun 04-Feb-18 09:12:46

It is odd that you can't remember "begging to go" at the age of 8. I can remember, for example, begging to have a dog at that age (which I look back on with incredulity now as I bloody hate dogs!). And it seems odd that you went and your younger sister didn't.

Marcine Sun 04-Feb-18 09:13:10

I would have begged to go to boarding school at 8, I was a big fan of Mallory Towers/Twins at St Clare's. I bet there are lots of little Harry Potter fans who would love to go to boarding school too.

It's a bit irrelevant though - you don't make big life choices based on what a small child says they want.

SendintheArdwolves Sun 04-Feb-18 09:13:29

That sort of explanation is very common in families - for example, my mother always tells me that the reason she never hugged me was because I was "always so independent". Yep, I was one of those kids who doesn't want their parents to love them and doesn't like physical affection.

Even if it was the case that you said you wanted to go to boarding school, that isn't the sort of decision that good parents would simply shrug at, say "well, she wants what she wants" and start packing a case for you. What if you;d said you wanted to join the foreign legion or the Moonies, would they have simply gone along with that as well?

Cherrycokewinning Sun 04-Feb-18 09:14:51

Another who begged to board thanks to Enid Blyton grin

However my parents were adults and I was 7. They certainly shouldn’t have done it because I asked and my parents wouldn’t have allowed it under any circumstances (goes without saying they weren’t a boarding family!)

NataliaOsipova Sun 04-Feb-18 09:14:56

you don't make big life choices based on what a small child says they want.

Totally agree.

Marcine Sun 04-Feb-18 09:16:34

I agree it's similar to babies absolutely loving full time childcare, rather be there than home - no parent wants their child to be unhappy, so if you need to make a choice you think is for the best you have to believe your child is happy with it.

topcat2014 Sun 04-Feb-18 09:17:00

Weekly or termly orphanages in my view. Cannot comprehend why anyone would send their children away - with exception of forces I suppose.

mustbemad17 Sun 04-Feb-18 09:18:29

I begged to go to boarding school around that age. It sounded like such an amazing adventure (far too many books read!). I always got refused as there wasn't a need. When they finally let me go at 13 - due to my dad's job & the impact it would have on my GCSE's - i nearly burst with excitement!! It is definitely possible for kids that age to want to try boarding out.

It does seem odd that that is being touted as the only reason for you going. You said one of your sisters out of two didn't board, which is also a bit odd as it sort of does suggest there was a specific reason two of you went.

LoniceraJaponica Sun 04-Feb-18 09:20:03

Another Mallory Towers and St Clare's fan here. I remember asking to go to boarding school as well.

Lowdoorinthewal1 Sun 04-Feb-18 09:21:46

Yes, it is a bit like the 'he loved being in nursery 8am-6pm 5 days a week, it was the best thing for him, he thrived'. Parents validating their own choices.

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