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Boarding School....

(19 Posts)
crusoe16 Mon 25-Apr-16 08:43:38

DSD is coming to the end of prep school. She's subject to a 50:50 contact schedule (reality is more like 40:60) and lives between two totally different homes. Her parents have no relationship to speak of, communicate only when they have to and just about manage to be civil.

DSD keen to board for senior school. I think she's fed up with the inconsistent contact schedule (Mum would rather keep the 50:50 on paper but regularly asks us to have DSD for extra nights and usually at the last minute) and I think probably fed up with her parents wildly different views on pretty much everything. A few of her good friends will be going on to boarding schools and I think she's decided it sounds like great fun.

We were a bit reluctant because it would mean her time with both parents would be drastically reduced but I'm wondering after meeting a lady whose own children were boarding following an acrimonious divorce at a drinks party a couple of weeks ago if it might actually be the best thing for DSD. This lady said described it as a sanctuary for her teenage kids away from their warring parents, step-parents and half siblings. I could see her point.

Anyone got any experience they can share? I suppose my main concern is that because of the 50:50, DSD is already somewhat estranged from both parents, nobody is truly 'on top of her' and she has said herself she doesn't feel like she belongs anywhere (both houses have 'full-time' children in them so she's the only one flitting between the two) and this could become even more of an issue if she's boarding full time. At the same time though I can see how boarding might give her term-time consistency, stability and independence that she's not going to get from 50:50. Thoughts?

Bananasinpyjamas1 Mon 25-Apr-16 12:46:08

I have no experience with boarding schools, but it doesn't sound like a bad idea. It is sad that she is estranged from her parents though. Could you help your DP or even just be a person in her life that is there for her consistently? Just by keeping your DP and yourself aware of relationships, gently asking how she is, remind her that she can approach you anytime. Send small regular texts?

My DSCs also felt like this I think, their parents also had a 50/50 which in reality, and in my view, just distanced the children from both their parents. Their mother also asked for many extra nights at the last minute before I realised we were having them a huge amount of the time, however, encouraged by their mother they weren't taking any parenting from me (and I was the main adult in their lives around as DP works long hours). I do think children become far too indifferent and independent because of it, but who can blame them?

NewLife4Me Mon 25-Apr-16 12:56:32

I think the only people who can decide what is right for their child are the parents tbh.
It's up to them what they decide along with the child.
My dd boards and no way would I have taken other peoples consideration into account including other members of the family or non family members.
I don't mean to sound mean and you could have good reason for using the term "We were a bit reluctant" you may be quite a constant in her life, but it's for her parents to decide.
You need to almost force their hand to discuss this and come to a decision on their own.
it's such a huge decision it has to be right. This is why I say the parents, nothing against your role in her life.

crusoe16 Mon 25-Apr-16 14:28:59

I'm in a similar boat Bananas - DH works long hours and I end up spending more time with DSD than he does. I agree completely with your views on 50:50. It worked well when DSD was little but these days the two halves just don't seem to be adding up to anything near a whole...

I have good reason to use the word 'we' NewLife4Me. I'm not going to launch into a tirade about how much I do for my DSC but I will be at whatever school she goes to far more than either of her parents. That's the case at the moment and it has been for years. Rest assured, the ultimate decision will be made by her, her mother and her father.

I'm just interested if anyone has experience of children subject to shared residence, boarding that they'd be able to share? Good and bad please!

Wdigin2this Mon 25-Apr-16 15:07:34

I've often wondered at the conception of 50/50, I know it's supposed to be in the child's best interests, but I can't see how! I would think they probably would feel as if they didn't belong anywhere...but Boarding School is a bit drastic! I would never have sent mine away to school, but maybe that's a bit selfish of me????

NewLife4Me Mon 25-Apr-16 15:13:05


Thanks for the explanation, I wasn't trying to be rude, just making sure you were considering the parents decision. thanks

There are children at my dd school who board and their parents are divorced.
I have no information for you though as I'm not really involved with parents.

It seems like a good idea in so far as these days children consider their friends as their second family, like siblings according to my dd. They tend to be very social and look after each other, the older ones often taking the younger ones under their wing.
My dd loves it and has made friends we know she'll have for life.
I think it would be a good idea for a child who didn't have one permanent home.

theredjellybean Mon 25-Apr-16 15:14:46

my dds both have boarded in a variety of ways ...full/weekly/flexibly.

When ex and I first separated eldest dd was at fulltime boarding school already so that didn't really affect her , and dd2 was boarding 2 nights a week. She went to weekly boarding for a while, but that meant that she only saw each parent every 2 weeks, but this was no different from if she had been a full boarder.

She was a bit worried that things would happen while she was house being sold etc, but we didnt do any of that, infact involved her in lots of decision making .

Now eldest away at tertiary education and youngest is a flexi boarder and almost 'sorts' her own contact arrangement.....however I have great relationship with my exh and it is all very easy.

For the OP , i think if dsd is keen and friends are going, why not try it ?
Basically as a full boarder she will get an exeat weekend every 3 weeks or so and then the normal holidays , which we found were easier to split tbh.

mnpeasantry Mon 25-Apr-16 15:18:21

Your DSD sounds very fortunate to have you properly thinking about her. You sound lovely OP

theredjellybean Mon 25-Apr-16 15:20:07

sorry OP realised my post was a bit waffly..

basically yes boarding school can give great stability for children in these circumstances
It would mean one exeat weekend per parent per term and half of half term each .

then half of longer holidays...

it would be a long time from start of term to half term if you were not the parent getting that exeaxt ifykwim, however most schools have lots of scope for taking shildren out for lunch on sundays and there is always stuff to go to ..sports matches/concerts etc etc.

it also means that children are not lugging school work / prep back and forth between houses...

both my dds love/loved boarding before/during and after we split up

NewLife4Me Mon 25-Apr-16 15:30:01

Yes, ditto to the fact you can make arrangements to go and visit and take them out for tea etc.
The long summer holidays will mean a good time spent with both parents too.
Yes after my first post would like to agree she is very lucky to have you considering her future as well as her parents.

The comment about selling the house without the child being there was something my dd worried about when ours was on the market, obviously we hadn't split up but it highlights that some worries/ concerns can be the same for all children.

Gruach Mon 25-Apr-16 15:35:13

OP are you asking about the emotional experience or the logistical experience - or something else?

Boarding suits confident, reasonably outgoing and self reliant children who want to board.

I'd imagine that how it feels emotionally would depend to a very large extent on managing the logistics - who picks up, who takes back, parents' mornings, payment of fees etc. You mentioned term time security - remember she's unlikely ever to be at school for much more than three weeks at a stretch ...

I'm struggling actually to see any great distinction between 50/50 residence and any other division within the context of boarding. There would be only negligible reduction in day to day responsibility, particularly at the start.

The other thing is - your DSD will need to think beyond "getting away from the warring parents". Boarding can be challenging in itself. Beyond the fun she would need to feel very well supported ...

Avebury Mon 25-Apr-16 16:06:44

I think the right boarding school with warm supportive houseparents could be a godsend for a child in this situation as long as she is the one who is keen.

crusoe16 Mon 25-Apr-16 16:15:49

Gruach I think what I'm mostly worried about is the effect boarding would have on her relationship with DH. They seem quite distant these days. I know DSD is fighting a lot with her Mum when she's there too. This may just be teenage stuff or it may be to do with contact. I don't know.

Logistically I know what it entails I think. My siblings and I all boarded albeit a long time ago! Lots of our friends' children board. I know how the term works and the school DSD has in mind (where her friends are going) is only about an hour away so there would be scope for visiting in between exeats.

DSD is confident, outgoing, extremely self-reliant and wants to board. She's also doing well academically. I have no doubt she'd thrive socially and academically. I wonder how she'd be emotionally. If it would be better or worse for her than the way things are now. Maybe a 'try it and see' approach is the best thing for it.

Thanks newlife4me and jellybean - that's really helpful. Especially the point about friends becoming a second family. I can see how that would benefit DSD.

Avebury Mon 25-Apr-16 17:22:19

Would your DH actually find he could build a different kind of relationship with her through e mails and letters and taking her out for tea so having a bit of one on one time with her.

I only have a sample study of one but my godmother definitely attributes her decent relationship with her daughter to not having to fight the day to day battles with her thanks to boarding school. And as she says 'who would a teen rather be with? Their friends or their family? '

Good luck with your decision. You sound incredibly caring.

theredjellybean Mon 25-Apr-16 17:44:37

oh other thing i thought of was how other children might feel or how your dsd might feel if her half/step sibs are all at home ...

well i obviously had this and my dsd's were actually pretty jealous of my girls. particularly the younger one who is same age as dd2 and she so wanted to go to boarding school too !
jealous in a nice way...the 'oh your so lucky ' way !

NewLife4Me Mon 25-Apr-16 18:06:06

perhaps the relationship would improve if your dsd was further away from her dad and she didn't see him as often.
Our relationship is different with dd now and we tend to make more of the time we get together. I'd even go as far as to say much of he angst we had before has gone. The last thing we want to do is fall out so we are all on our best behaviour when she's home. It doesn't always work 100% of the time, but there's a marked improvement and we had a good relationship to begin with.

I'd say friendships are closer with boarders as of course they are living together. Of course they can have their ups and downs like any other relationships but in the whole I'd say they were pretty close.
I know several of dd friends get together in the holidays and sometimes dd calls and says something is happening at the weekend and she'd rather stay at school, she weekly boards.

crusoe16 Mon 25-Apr-16 18:56:12

There's no reason our other children couldn't board if they want to. We'd definitely send them to the same school when the time came if they were up for it and we felt they'd do well there.

I hadn't thought about DH's relationship improving with some distance. Maybe it could. I suppose his time with her if he visited would be one-on-one which isn't something they get much of atm.

Thanks all.

HormonalHeap Mon 25-Apr-16 21:14:51

My dsd boards. At first she didn't, but found herself excluded as most of the girls did. Now they're her second (or third!) family. Not a bad thing.

Eliza22 Tue 03-May-16 08:32:40

I think it may be better for all your relationships. I went to boarding school at age 10. It was a long time ago (!) but it gives a sense of routine and consistency which may be a good think for this girl. Also, her friends are going. I'd say, try it. It it doesn't's not forever. It sounds as though a settled existence would do her good and she may appreciate "home" and parents (all of you!) more, when she's home in the holidays. I did. smile

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