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To board or not to board - am I being selfish

(33 Posts)
Silverine08 Sun 26-Feb-17 04:17:41

My daughter is currently at a boarding school doing her A levels and has been there since she was 11. She absolutely loves it, has made great friends and last year achieved fantastic GCSEs. When she started we were local but moved about 2 hours away when she was 13. I asked her then whether she wanted to go to a day school near us and she emphatically refused. So all good. She's happy, the school is making sure she's getting the grades she needs. Nothing to complain about.

I also went to the same school and was equally happy which is why we made the decision for her to go there.

THe fact is, that I have really missed not having her at home. Yes we talk on the phone a lot, she comes home some weekends and holidays and I would say we have a great relationship but I can't help feeling I've missed out on a lot of her growing up.

We've also got 2 boys. They are a long way from starting secondary but we have always said they will go to Tonbridge like their dad and will board. DH is set on this happening but I'm now having some real doubts. I can't help thinking that I'm going to miss out on their growing up and that especially being boys (who don't tend to talk about their feelings with other boys) that they should be home with me at least once a day. There is a private day school close to us which is good but no where near as good as Tonbridge.

Am I being selfish wanting them at home? If they are as happy as my daughter is it fair to deny them that opportunity for my feelings?

Has anyone else felt like this after their child has nearly finished boarding school or maybe even moved them back to a day school even if they were happy?

I know I have some years before anything happens but it's going to take ages to convince my husband!

Shadowboy Sun 26-Feb-17 04:44:29

Not selfish. If they are good kids and it's a good school nonetheless then they will probably flourish well with your love and guidance at home just as well as they would in a boarding school.

Gruach Sun 26-Feb-17 05:12:49

Well, as you say, it's a long way ahead ...

I'm hugely in favour of boarding for the right child - that is, one who would very evidently gain some tangible benefit from boarding, or from a particular school, that wouldn't be available otherwise. (Some children, for instance, might very evidently reach a stage where they seem to have outgrown their environment and simply need a bigger challenge or a change of scene.) I'm not at all convinced that family tradition, without more, is necessarily a good reason to make the choice.

If your strongest feeling is that you would miss them - it doesn't sound as if there is any pressing need for them to go!

Of course, that may change - but it's just as likely that you may find each of them needs something entirely different, neither Tonbridge nor the local private school. And it's not impossible (or is it?) that by the time they're ready for senior school the ideal state school may have established itself within travelling distance.

In the meantime I'm sure your (and your DH's) opinions will evolve as they progress through the earlier stages of school. Children generally show what they need!

Flum Tue 28-Feb-17 18:03:46

Mmmm. My dd is about to go off to boarding school and I am going to miss her so much. It is a difficult one and a compromise. If it were my decision we would move back to UK and she would go to a day school.... but then I desperately wanted to board as a kid..... My DH is very pro boarding and she really wants to go to the school too.

It just seems so nuts to me to spend an absolute fortune to not have your own lovely child around. I am pretty cut up about it I have to say. I think I am going to find the next few years really tough if the other two gradually go off too.

PuffinDodger Tue 28-Feb-17 18:29:20

I would let them decide. If they are really keen then let them try it and let them know they can move to a day school if they aren't happy. That way they've had the same opportunity as your dd. It might look odd to your dd if you didn't allow them to go but allowed her to.

Leeds2 Tue 28-Feb-17 19:06:55

My DD boarded for Sixth Form only, not really what I wanted but she was keen to try it so I let her. She loved it, and has had a seamless transition to uni (overseas).

I certainly didn't want her to board from Year 7 and, thankfully, she didn't express any wish to do so! Had she done so, I hope I would've listened and tried to accommodate as far as possible e.g. by boarding for one or two nights a week. I wouldn't have liked it, although that would be thinking of what I wanted rather than what DD did, iyswim.

Have your DSs said that they want to board? They may think that they "have to", because that is what their sister did. I would try and make it clear to them that the boarding and day options are both open to them. And don't let your OH prejudice how they think!

hickorydickorynurseryrhyme Tue 28-Feb-17 19:14:08

You are not being selfish. I personally couldn't imagine sending my children to a boarding school but everybody's lives and situations are different.

Quartz2208 Tue 28-Feb-17 19:16:46

We know what you want and what your DH wants but what do your sons want.

In my experience Boarding school is like marmite, you either love it or hate it let them decide with no pressure what they want to do

hardboiled Tue 28-Feb-17 19:35:10

Why do the kids need to be asked about it? Boarding is not some kind of human right every kid should be offered. Most can't afford it and never even think about it. It should mainly be a decision of the parents, and then the child should be asked whether he/she agrees.

spaghettihoopsagain Tue 28-Feb-17 19:55:33

I loved boarding - I really, really loved it. I was the child who was packing my trunk in the last 2 weeks of the holidays because I just missed my friends so much and had such a great time there. But.... loving something doesn't mean it is for the best. My children would love to eat Haribo every day but I don't give it to them because I don't think it is the best thing for them.
You are not being selfish at all - you are wanting to raise your children in your family which, after all, is the place that children have been brought up for thousands of years. And there is a reason why nearly every human has been raised in a family day in day out - because children need to be nurtured right up until they are ready to leave home. They need to learn from their parents, talk to their parents, gain wisdom from their parents and have time out from the teenage culture. The Public schools have a huge amount going for them - amazing facilities, great results but they may not be the best all around for a child. I'm afraid I think there is no replacement for a loving, kind mother/father who is there to chat things through with a son or daughter - there to talk about things as they come up each day. It sounds like you are a lovely mother and I don't think you should feel guilty at all that you want to see and raise your children with you - it's natural and I believe it is for the best. I understand that sometimes, in difficult circumstances, it is best for a child to board, but a good day school plus home can offer more than a boarding school without the daily influence of home.

hickorydickorynurseryrhyme Tue 28-Feb-17 20:46:04

Spaghetti I agree with you

PuffinDodger Tue 28-Feb-17 22:07:24

Hardboiled, what is the difference between asking kids about it and asking them whether they agree to it?

hardboiled Wed 01-Mar-17 12:44:45

The difference is the parents have to decide first independently from their children's wishes. IMO, the OP should not need to consult children before deciding herself.

bojorojo Wed 01-Mar-17 13:01:46

I imagine these boys would board at 13, not earlier. Lots of schools are weekly boarding anyway. If parents have decided to live abroad, then they have to take the consequences of that. It was their choice. If parents live here then choose a school with weekly boarding and then you will get to see them. If you live in Newcastle and choose Tonbridge, then you cannot expect to see them! Be flexible is the answer. No more than 1.5 hours from home is a good yardstick or closer! We were 45 - 50 minutes away.

I saw my DDs a lot at boarding school. We, as parents, were invited to House events, sports matches, music events, drama, and a whole host of other activities. I took pleasure in seeing them flourish. I was very much aware that many children had both parents working and to have their daughters away from Monday to Friday was no hardship to anyone. The parents just saved on nanny/au pair costs as they didn't see their children that much in the week anyway.

As to giving the children choice - absolutely. The children who really do not want to board rarely make a huge success of it and resent it. Don't just look at your DHs old school. That may not suit. Have a good look at other options. You are presumably sending them to a prep to get up to speed with CE, so you have time to gather ideas and their friends may go to other schools you have yet to consider. Unless your whole world is your children, then modern boarding does open up options for everyone.

gillybeanz Wed 01-Mar-17 13:20:48

I know it's not an easy decision and whatever you decide.
I quite often think the worst thing I did was allowing dd to talk me into attending an open day at her school.
From the beginning she loved the place and the more we saw the more it seemed to suit her.
It was completely off the radar for us because we had no idea how this particular school worked and thought we'd never be able to afford the fees in a million years.
Well, to cut a long story short, after 2 auditions they offered her a place and she went.
I spent the first term in tears, I missed her so much and although it's much easier now, I'd still secretly be happy if she asked to leave.
I know that sounds horrible, but it's awful missing your child.

As for being selfish, I think in my case it would have been selfish to stop her as it is exactly what she wants to do and where she wants to be.
She actually told me if I stood in her way, she'd never forgive me.
It doesn't make it any easier though and when people question why parents use boarding schools and the awful comments sometimes said, I feel like screaming you haven't got a fuckin clue.

If you have good alternatives and you want your dc at home, that's not selfish.
I disagree that parents should decide first, ito boarding it's up to the child and should be their decision.
As you have already had one board then it's essential imo to let any other children decide.
It would be hard to explain why one was allowed and yet others not.

Aboardersmum Wed 01-Mar-17 13:22:56

Name changed.
Ds1 boarded, left summer 2016.Different situation, he went to a special needs boarding school because it was the most suitable school. Mostly he loved it.
However I always wanted a reason to bring him home as I missed having an influence over his life. Knowing what was going on on a day to day level. When ever things went wrong it was easy to blame the school.
He has made an easy transition to uni.
Ds 2 has remained at our local school. I couldn't contemplate the idea of him boarding too and he didn't have the need. As he has hit teen years many of the same things occur. I don't know what is going on on a day to day level. Things go wrong. In many ways I don't feel any more involved in his life.
Sorry not much help. I think boarding gave ds 1 room to grow. He did miss out on being part of our local community which ds2 has. Also part time jobs, local friends.
Ds2 gets more grief of us day to day. We are more likely to nag about school work. We didn't know if ds1 was doing his homework and as a result felt the consequences from the teachers.
Keep your options open . You and your husband may feel differently when they are closer to boarding age

gillybeanz Wed 01-Mar-17 13:33:10

I agree with the not having local friends comment.
My dd has lost touch with most of her friends from round here as she leads a different life now and has nothing in common with old friends.
They talk on social media but she wouldn't meet up with them during holidays as they've all moved on.
This does mean though that when she is at home we have her undivided attention and I'm sure if it was compared with a day school pupil whose parents worked until tea time, the difference wouldn't be too much.
In fact time actually spent together may be higher for the boarder if a parent is at home everyday of the holidays.

Aboardersmum Wed 01-Mar-17 15:13:41

Meant to add, probibly have a closer relationship with ds who boarded than ds at day school.

hardboiled Wed 01-Mar-17 15:58:20

But the OP's situation is not a music specialism school or a special needs school. Ultimately, Gilly, you knew your DD would not get anywhere else what she's getting at her school. Ultimately, you decided to bravely put that above your feelings. The OP has a good local school. I really don't think she should feel selfish or be made to ask the boys before making a decision and decide what SHE wants. She should not be forced into sending them to public school. My parents did not make the same decisions for each of my siblings, nor felt they had to. It was a time when parents had the last word about most things. I know it wasn't ideal, but the opposite is not right either.

gillybeanz Wed 01-Mar-17 20:37:36

I understand the difference, but was pointing out the local friendship side is the same.
Also, a mother missing her child is the same whatever the reason or conditions.
I do think if there are alternatives that could offer the same they shouldn't be overlooked, but at the same time pointed out that to send one and not another needs a good reason, not suggesting the OP hasn't a good reason.
her child might just ask why.
I do think that it should be the child's decision ultimately, as it could work the other way, that the parents wanted it but the child didn't.

Cwandri Tue 21-Mar-17 18:04:35

I have a huge amount of anxiety about my kids going to boarding school. It is ironic because as I child I was desperate to go and wished my parents would let me. Fast forward to being married to an ex boarder (who truth be told says boarding from 8 was very hard) but he is still pro boarding from 13.

Also I only have myself to blame as I took them myself to see the schools as they were in such a small international school that I wanted to see what the alternatives were. Then it became like a kind of roller coaster. I have just about got my head around the elder one going but the younger one... I really don't think I can do it yet.

The anxiety for me is massive, I am obsessing about it, constantly researching and the kids are definitely aware of this. I either need to put my big girl pants on and get on with it or pull them out.

DH is being amazing, he will go along with whatever I decide. DD1 would be gutted if I said she couldn't go at this stage but she is a great kids and would deal with it. DD2 would be fine too... she is desperate to go to the local comp with her friends.

As for me.... I am totally pulled in different directions. I want to do the best for them but I want them home with family support and love too.

All I can say from this is I almost wish it was a decision that we did not have to make. If the money was not available then the decision would not have to be made. I have considered giving it away!!! But, I did not earn it so it is not mine to do that with.

readthethread Wed 22-Mar-17 08:34:36

I thought people only boarded if:
- they didn't have a good day school in commuting distance
- their parents both had full on jobs = weekly boarding makes sense
- a child has particular needs only fulfilled by a particular school (eg on the England tennis team needing specialist coaches and 4 hours of training a day!)
- family live abroad and want a UK education for their kids

Why would you choose boarding if you are at home and have a great day school in commuting distance? i don't get it on any level, financial, social, emotional.

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Wed 22-Mar-17 08:40:49

Neither do l. What's the point of having kids to send them away? Especially when they are teens, or actually any age. .... if a kid really loves boarding school, then there must be something wrong at home.

Its a great idea to send them away so someone else can bring them up🙄

happygardening Wed 22-Mar-17 15:02:36

"if a kid really loves boarding school, then there must be something wrong at home."
DS2 was very happy boarding and there is nothing "wrong at home" I've known 1000's of other children over the years who've board both personally and professionally, the vast majority of them also have nothing "wrong at home" in fact often the complete opposite many are part of very happy we'll adjusted families.

bojorojo Wed 22-Mar-17 15:11:11

Quite agree happyg. It is a different type of education and suits some children. All assumptions by people who don't understand boarding are usually wrong! They are not away for weeks on end if you read the posts above. They are brought up by their parents and the schools are not a substitute. As if??? We are no longer in the 1950s.

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