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To allow my 11 year old to travel to USA alone ?

78 replies

Finallyspring · 23/05/2011 13:49

My DS has had a really good friend since they were 3 years old. I am good friends with his parents too, but this friendship was not engineered by us. It has been a really strong bond made by the two of them.

Sadly the family have recently moved to the US where the boy's father comes from. This was extremely hard for the two boys and my DS really hasn't been happy since. We have discussed my DS going to stay with them ever since the move was planned and I have always agreed it would be a good idea, but never made any firm plans. Now the other family and my DS are really pushing for him to come this summer.

Last night my DH and I agreed he should wait until next year and told him this. He became quite distraught, vomited and cried for hours and hours. This really is not usual behaviour for him.

This morning I had a good think about when he could go next year. However, there are no school holidays which coincide until next August and this does seem like a long time to wait. I then called the airline and found out that if he goes now he would have a chaperone for the whole journey. It is a non stop flight. He would be looked after like a member of the family ( I love and trust the parents ) and he would be staying in a safe and rural area.Not only that but I was given a discount for some reason and it turned out to be cheaper than I was expecting. If we leave it until next year I wonder if it would be hard for the boy to accommodate DS with his new life and friends. So, now I am thinking we should let him go this summer.

AIBU to do this ? He is (usually) a stable and secure child who has gone on school trips and sleepovers without a backward glance but it just seems a bit weird to let your child travel a whole continent away. DH and I can't go with him for various work/family reasons. His brother flew to France by himself at the same age and it was fine, but the USA just seems so far.

OP posts:
aldiwhore · 23/05/2011 14:06

If he's generally a good kid and the whole vomiting was out of character I doubt that reconsidering your decision will make him suddenly think he can get anything he wants if he pukes.

Sometimes you have to go back on what you're originally said because you're human, have thought about it more and have found a way to make it work.

coccyx · 23/05/2011 14:08

Vomiting because you said no????

Tolalola · 23/05/2011 14:10

I would definitely let him go. I travelled alone from younger than this and I would say that, as long as he's being met and there aren't plane changes, there's really nothing that couls go wrong. The journey will be exciting for him.

I also know the terrible feeling when your best friend moves so far away that you can't visit. This happened to me and my best friend when I was about 13 and it really affected both of us.

Another year and both boys will likely have moved on, it may be awkward for them to meet up because they won't have much in common anymore and the friendship will be lost.

Please let him go, he sounds so distressed.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy · 23/05/2011 14:12

Whatever their age, it's always hard to watch our little chicks leave the nest especially if they're going on a long flight without our protective wings to shelter them.

Everwhere is a continent away from the UK but your ds will be well-looked after by the airline on a non-stop direct flight, and delivered straight into the arms of your trusted friends.

You're not being at all U by wanting to do the very best for your son so take advantage of serendipity and book his flight now - I'd love to see his face when you tell him that he'll be seeing his best friend sooner than he thinks.

Finallyspring · 23/05/2011 14:13

Yes, vomiting. It's awful I know and that is why I admit I have reservations about changing my mind. In his defence, he is generally not spoiled or manipulative ( not perfect though!) and has never had anything liketantrums since nursery age. I think he was distressed because he had been picturing seeing his friend for a long time.

OP posts:
JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar · 23/05/2011 14:16

Sometimes you have to go back on what you're originally said because you're human, have thought about it more and have found a way to make it work.

I couldn't agree more, Aldi. I add to that "because you're human and an adult"

Silverbells123 · 23/05/2011 14:17

I agree with those who say let him go (and agree too with reservation re vomiting but you are the best judge of that) - I used to go all round europe as an UM (unaccompanied minor) from the age of 7 and it was great for my independence. Don't know how it is now but I was certainly well looked after. I also loved it. Good luck with your decision.

stickylittlefingers · 23/05/2011 14:18

Only you know whether he's purposely manipulating you with the vomit/crying etc, or whether he was just genuinely very very upset.

I was just going to add my tuppence worth that travelling to Canada as unaccompanied minors used to be very good, lovely staff and things to do (better than going with your parents in that way!) and they were extremely careful to look after the children right to the point of being signed over at the other end.

TotemPole · 23/05/2011 14:19

I think he was distressed because he had been picturing seeing his friend for a long time.

That's what I was thinking. He'd worked it up in his head, convinced that he was going. So it wasn't just being told 'no', it's the shock of it that got to him as well.

soggybottomflancase · 23/05/2011 14:21

Billy Joel says, She never gives in, she just changes her mind...she always a woman to me.

Finallyspring · 23/05/2011 14:22

I have posted in AIBU so am prepared for YABU !

However, just wanted to say thanks so much for your responses so far. Sometimes I feel like I am parenting in a vacuum. iykwim

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izzywhizzyletsgetbusy · 23/05/2011 14:23

You know your ds, and I'm sure your instincts are spot on.

When you have been anticipating, visualising, and longing for something, you can be metaphorically or literally sick with disappointment if your dream crashes to the ground.

OTheHugeManatee · 23/05/2011 14:29

I was sent on unaccompanied minor flights at 11. I don't really see the problem - he'll be chaperoned beyond the departure gate and then all the way to being collected by his friend's parents at the other end.

expatinscotland · 23/05/2011 14:34

I'm American myself but wouldn't dream of sending any of my own children there alone at that age even to see my own family.

Lisatheonewhoeatsdrytoast · 23/05/2011 14:36

I think you should let him go this year, he'll be chaperoned on the plane and will be in safe hands, if you know they family well then i'm sure they'll take good care of him on arrival! :)

Finallyspring · 23/05/2011 14:38

Ok, have to reveal at this point that the destination and gender of my child are not necessarily as posted in attempt to avoid identification. The destination is a similar distance to US but much safer, moreover the town is a backwater of a safe country

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EdithWeston · 23/05/2011 14:42

Airlines are really experienced in looking after unaccompanied minors. They'll be chaperoned airside, put on the plane (seated next to someone who looks motherly - I think! It's happened to me) and get lots of attention from the stewardesses on board. Then they're chaperoned off the plane and through all landing formalities and luggage collection and only handed over when the staff are sure it's the correct person collecting.

Tee2072 · 23/05/2011 14:44

Interesting Expat. Why not? I would and I am also American.

GwendolineMaryLacey · 23/05/2011 14:46

This is really hard. Looking at it from an uninvolved distance I can't see any reason not to let him go. I've seen plenty of chaperoned kids on flights over the years and they always seem to be having a whale of a time, being temporary grown ups and you know he'll be well looked after at the other end. But that's not necessarily the decision I would make if it were dd.

soggybottomflancase · 23/05/2011 14:52

So, you're sending your daughter to Canada?
Imho I'd be more comfortable letting my dd go rather than ds because she has a more outgoing, less likely to have her head in the clouds type of personality.
Op I did wonder about the reaction of your "ds" because my ds wouldn't have feelings like that about his friends, he's already stopped talking to classmates who are going to different secondary schools "what's the point, I'll never see them again"

drivinmecrazy · 23/05/2011 14:52

So pleased to hear such positive stories of unaccompanied minors flying. My DD1 (10) is off in a week to Spain to Visit my Mum and I am starting to get slightly aggitated but she is so excited. I think it will be fantastic for her confidence and know that she will be well looked after. A bit different as its a much shorter flight, but she has to change in Madrid cos we couldn't find an airline to do unaccompanied direct. I have no worries that she will be fine, just a bit teary cos it's another sign she is growing up Sad
Also far better for her than last summer when she travelled out with au-pair who didn't have the first clue of getting a flight and she was 18, so DD had to guide her through and even look after her passport Angry

heleninahandcart · 23/05/2011 14:53

Let him go. This is so important to him and a year is forever. You won't feel any different next year he is your 'LO', thats just being a parent He will love it and will be safe on flight they really do look after kids in their charge.

Maybe make up some reason why you think it's ok now. Anyway his pain seems genuine so would DBU to stop a wonderful experience to prove a point.

Finallyspring · 23/05/2011 14:54

I understand exactly gwendolinemarylacey it's not really a question of the practical measures airlines take to protect safety, more an emotional thing. If I'm really honest I suppose I'm wondering if it makes me a bad mother to let an 11 year do this and that's why I came on here. Very reassured that have had so many positive responses but sure there will be YABU ones too.

Tee2072 don't know why I was so quick to respond to expat that DS not going to the US. I am not one of those Europeans who thinks the whole of US is dangerous. In fact feel that NY for example is much safer, politer, cleaner than London

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Finallyspring · 23/05/2011 14:58

soggybottom totally blew my cover. Funny but as I was writing it did seem unconvincing that a DS would be so attached to friend but I guess that's a huge generalisation and there are loads of attached and sensitive boys.

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heleninahandcart · 23/05/2011 15:08

Too much is being made of the vomiting. Some of you have your judgypants a tad high re the poor boy's reaction. Agree with IzzyWizzy there would have been a shock element and he was totally devastated. Great that he had a close friend at this age.

my DS went to NY on exchange trip after 9/11 and I was terrified but decided it was too big an opportunity to refuse. He had the time of his life (and we've done a lot) and still talks about it.

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