Raising your daughter

Sugar and spice and all things nice... or moods and malice and meanness? What is your daughter made of? How can you support, guide and enjoy her?

Letting go - off to boarding school?

Written by Gill Richards on 01/08/2010

This will have been probably the biggest decision you have made for your daughter whether she is seven or eight, eleven, thirteen or sixteen. It may be that this is a family tradition or you are a first time boarding parent. You can prepare your daughter, whatever her age, for the separation of weekdays or term time away from home:

  • Make sure she is used to staying away from you for short periods with friends or grandparents from an early age.
  • Be enthusiastic yourself about the fun and opportunities she will have at Boarding school.
  • Make sure she has the correct uniform and kit, fitting in will be a major worry for her.
  • Take advantage of any offer by the school for trial weekends or nights in the boarding house.
  • Choose your school carefully and if possible make sure your daughter has felt involved in the decision.

It is normal for your daughter to feel homesick when she first goes away and it is normal for you to feel separation anxiety. Remember when you first took her to Nursery or Pre-school when she and you both cried? Remember how quickly she settled into the routine. Most children do not cry all day or night and soon become involved in the situation in which they find themselves and make friends. At school, lessons will occupy the day, then there will be after school activities and it is usually only at bedtime that your daughter will feel homesick. Take the advice of the Houseparents, they will be hugely experienced in dealing with homesickness and any other problems.

All teenage girls face friendship issues whichever school they attend, wanting a best friend, falling out and hurting each other in the way they do best, verbally. As girls get older they grow out of it and it is part of growing up and developing their own ability to cope with any difficulties. For you as a parent, it can be devastating at the time, since your first and only instinct is to defend and protect your daughter. You will know when it is more than the normal quarrels between teenage girls, where they fall out with their best friend one day and are best friends again two days later.

If it is more than that, do not hesitate to contact the school and ask them to intervene. Girls can rarely sort out these issues for themselves and need a sympathetic, but emotionally uninvolved adult, to help them. In the end it is a valuable life lesson that you do not like or get on with everyone, but you learn to be able to work alongside people who will never be your best friend.

At school your daughter will always have someone she can go and talk to. Many schools ask the older girls to keep an eye on the younger ones and provide a sympathetic ear and friendly face. If your daughter appears to be unhappy it will not go unnoticed. You have an equal obligation as a parent, to keep the school informed if your daughter is upset by anything happening at home. It is in everyone’s interest that your daughter is happy and settled at school and is getting the best from her boarding experience.

Remember why you chose boarding for your daughter? It is great fun and she will develop the ability to mix with a wide range of people. She will develop independence, good work habits and the ability to live reasonably tidily in a small space. She will have lots of opportunities and will have friends for life.

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Your comments

Thank you this article helped me a lot. My daughter choose to go to boarding school as we are a forces family and move so often. At the moment I feel like I have to keep saying this to people, as I am just about coping some days with her not being here and I think people think what a mean parent. I have a massive separation anxiety, constantly checking my phone and emails. My daughter has not made a lot of contact but has sent me a message saying she feels homesick just before bed. Reading your article made so much sense.

By pshone on Monday 25 February 2013

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