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AIBU in not wanting my (future) child to go to boarding school at seven?

(125 Posts)
LoveInAColdClimate Mon 03-Nov-08 10:50:31

I thought this might be a good place to get some perspective on this - apologies for the intrusion as I'm not yet a mum or even trying to become a mum just yet, but I would really value any thoughts you may have.

In DP and my "marriage and babies" discussions, a major sticking point has come up.

DP went to boarding school at seven and loved it. He freely admits that he was very homesick when he first went and cried all the time, but is convinced that it has made him independent and played a big part in his successes in life. I think he would have been independent and successful wherever he went to school, and that being sent away from home at seven had nothing to do with it. He thinks he was given sporting and academic opportunities he wouldn't have been able to get without boarding. I disagree, and frankly even if this was true I don't think that would make up for being separated from the rest of the family (his sister did not board) from such a young age - and this was (obviously) pre-mobile phones and they weren't even allowed to call home from a pay phone, just write weekly letters which were vetted by their housemaster.

I was a day girl at a mixed day/boarding school and don't feel I missed out on anything by not boarding, although all my cousins boarded from seven. My brother never boarded either (and is, incidentally, following a very similar career path as DP and looks set to do just as well).

The sticking point is that DP wants his sons to board from seven as well (although apparently daughters will be saved from this "privilege"). I don't want this at all - I could possibly compromise with thirteen, although even then I wouldn't be very keen, as thirteen still seems very young and surely teenagers are really just as much in need of parenting as younger children, even if they don't show it as much. Basically, and possibly terribly arrogantly, I think I can do a better job of parenting than a school/housemaster can, and also want to have my children at home with me.

DP thinks I am being unreasonable for refusing to even countenance his wishes. Am I being unreasonable?

SmugColditz Mon 03-Nov-08 10:54:30

YANBU but I would mke it very clear BEFORE you have any children that you will veto boarding school annd that is that.

LazyLinePainterJane Mon 03-Nov-08 10:54:33

YANBU in that when you have children, these decisions will be joint ones. However, you will find out that things are likely to be very different once you actually have them and both of you will consider and not consider things that you would never have dreamed of before children.

Eniddo Mon 03-Nov-08 10:56:17

this happened to a friend of mine

her dh did not back down and consequently her ds1 starting at boarding school this year (8).

she was gutted and so was her ds

other peoples marriages are a mystery to me I must say.

Buda Mon 03-Nov-08 10:57:40

Well imho YANBU.

I could not ever countenance boarding school for my DS.

DH on the other hand could. He was a day boy at a boarding school and feels that he missed out on a lot. However he knows I would be devasted at the thought so it's a no.

We do have DS's name down for DH's old school but the day/boarder ratios have changed a lot and he will be a day boy. We have been told that he can do sleepovers with friends who board if he wants to and I am fine with that. But he won't be boarding.

It is important to get it sorted out now though.

AMumInScotland Mon 03-Nov-08 10:59:01

I think it's safe to say that the consensus on Mumsnet is that your choice of schools ought to be lead primarily by what you think will be the best thing for that individual child at that time. So, his view that boys "ought" to board because it suited him is a problem.

To what extent is he set on this course? It's all very well for him to decide you are being unreasonable for not agreeing to it, but equally you have a right to expect him to pay attention to your wishes. It's a tricky one to compromise on if he's adamant, but I think it's a good thing that you have started discussin this issue before you settle into starting a family, because the way you deal with this issue may well be indicative of your whole relationship and family life.

If you are expected to "compromise" on something you think will damage your children, then that is a sign of problems...

LoveInAColdClimate Mon 03-Nov-08 10:59:44

Eniddo - this is my concern. DP is very determined over things he sees as important - 90% of the time I find that very attractive but not here!

My only hope seems to be that we won't be able to afford it...

crumpet Mon 03-Nov-08 10:59:54

YANBU - they are still so small at 7 - seeing them at the beginning of term carrying their teddies in is heartbreaking. (See also a thread from last night about a mnetters 6 years old still haveing a good giggle at "round and round the garden")

But FWIW my brother chose to board at around 12 and had a ball from day 1 (but did not do nearly as well as he was capable of academically which is why I want to keep my children closer to home so that I can see how they are doing on a day to day basis), so perhaps it is something that you could agree to look at at a later stage - but on the proviso that it very much depends on the child and the school. Some are more suited to boarding than others, and also each school has a very different approach.

WhatFreshHellIsThis Mon 03-Nov-08 11:00:06

If you don't have children yet, I would say that you could safely say that you'll discuss it nearer the time. If you can both agree to leave the decision until then, you might find that the children make the decision for you.

It's really easy to make sweeping statements about what our children will or will not do when they're not born, but when you get to know the little person you've brought into the world, you realise that what suits one might not suit the other. You might have a confident, independent little boy who will just love boarding school. Or you might have a shy retiring type who would hate it.

Sounds like your DP is imagining his future sons to be just like him, which is fair enough, but when the reality comes into play a lot of opinions get changed!

And you might not even have a boy!

Eniddo Mon 03-Nov-08 11:01:31

her dhs parents paid loveinacoldclimate

they felt the same as him - absolutely insisted

Eniddo Mon 03-Nov-08 11:02:18

there is a lot less stigma about being a day pupil tell him

freddysteddy Mon 03-Nov-08 11:04:07

First post, ok I'll bite.

Boarding schools are barbaric, people shouldn't have kids if they don't want to live with them.

Awaits backlash.

Eniddo Mon 03-Nov-08 11:05:19

I dont think they are barbaric tbh

I would never do it at 7 but would do it at 14 if my dds were happy with it

Buda Mon 03-Nov-08 11:07:24

Enid - I think I would leave my DH if he tried to insist on boarding school. Even though I know that my DS may in all likelihood grow to love it, I would hate it. Is your friend not worried about in the future resenting her DH and his family? I would be.

giddly Mon 03-Nov-08 11:10:11

YANBU and need to get this sorted before you try to concieve. I think the strangest thing about his views is that he wants a boy to board, but not a girl. Does he not think it's important for a girl to be "successful" based on his definition? Or does he feel a girl would cope less well (although from what I understand girls tend to mature earlier - though am not suggesting any child is ready to board at seven).

Eniddo Mon 03-Nov-08 11:10:28

I think she has accepted it

she seems to be happy with it now although I suspect this is slight denial

but we all play along with what a wonderful time bruno is having

WhatFreshHellIsThis Mon 03-Nov-08 11:10:40

I went to boarding school at 12 and loved it. Had a fantastic time, met some wonderful people who are still my friends 22 years later, got an excellent education and have a great relationship with my parents.

Where's the barbarism?

TheDuchessOfNorksBride Mon 03-Nov-08 11:10:52

Agree with good post from AMIS.

If our DCs choose to board at 11+ then we'll let them, but I suspect we may just take advantage of the modern flexi-boarding. Which might be a good compromise if your DHs old school offers it?

enid - I think I'd divorce my husband rather than lose my DCs for 9 months of the year. Actually, I don't think that, I know that.

MrsThierryHenry Mon 03-Nov-08 11:16:32

YANBU. Academic achievement is not the only route to success. Many children suffer emotionally through feelings of rejection having been sent to boarding school at a young age; this can have a significant on their social, emotional and psychological well-being (not that it could paralyse your child psychologically, but if it's a choice between being well-adjusted or not so well-adjusted, psychological evidence shows that children who remain with their parents turn out better off).

Also don't underestimate the wrench for you as a (very welcome on MN) future parent. It is a HUGE deal to send your child away when they're little. This should not be devalued at all.

It angers me so much when men bulldoze their female partners into sending their children away, so I really feel for you.

Quattrocento Mon 03-Nov-08 11:16:33

This is ringing quite a few alarm bells for me. Boarding was more common for our generation. Fewer people do it nowadays and very few people let young children board because of the potential for emotional damage.

Another alarm bell for me is this sentence "The sticking point is that DP wants his sons to board from seven as well (although apparently daughters will be saved from this "privilege")."

So if you do think that boarding will make you more successful in life, why would you withhold that from your daughters? There's some latent chauvinism in that attitude which is kind of scarey.

AbbeyA Mon 03-Nov-08 11:18:57

YANBU.
I would get it sorted out before you have DCs-don't just assume that you can sort it out later. Seven yrs is much too young. It may suit a DC by the time they are 13yrs but you can't tell until they get to that age. I know people in the forces who board their DCs because it gives stability rather than moving around.
I think your DC comes from the dark ages!! I assume he is saying that a future DS's education is more important than a future DD's education!! If that is the case, it would make me hopping mad-I have 2 brothers and their education was never deemed more important than mine.
I should sort things out now.

pigleto Mon 03-Nov-08 11:22:20

I think that people generally change their views on how to bring up children when they actually have some wink. I know I did.

Boarding school at 8 is barbaric and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

babypringle Mon 03-Nov-08 11:24:43

Could you discuss compromises - I think a lot of boarding schools have moved away from the model of having kids dropped off at the start of term and not seeing their parents until the end of term. When I worked at a boarding school a couple of years ago (for ages 7-13) a lot of the kids were flexi-boarders, staying for anything between 1 and 5 nights each week (and rarely at the weekends). So they got the boarding school experience, and were part of the boarding house giving them the option of additional trips and activities, but they still also had the experience of living at home. Are there schools locally that would offer this and if so would you consider this if you felt that your child would enjoy it???

falcon Mon 03-Nov-08 11:31:51

YANBU. I can't understand people who send their young children to bs, a teen who wanted to go perhaps but a boy of 7?

This would be a deal breaker for me, not something I'd be at all willing to do under any circumstances.

crumpet Mon 03-Nov-08 11:33:01

Yes the degree of flexi boarding may offer a compromise - friends have just started their 2 (aged 6 and 8) as day pupils and they are already asking to board - the key thing is that when they do start they can do as much or as little as works for them. Full time boarding at 7 is too young imo.

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