Pack extra undies, don’t give them too much pocket money, put parental locks on their phones… the advice for parents sending their children away to boarding school goes on and on. While some may be incredibly helpful, others (irrespective of how well intentioned) add to the lump at the pit of your stomach.
Each child’s journey looks different and before I deliver 3 pieces of practical advice to help make parenting from a distance a little easier, I want to reassure you – whatever you are doing, however you are parenting, you are doing the best you can and that is enough.
- Set a regular phone call time
It’s ok to tell your child that they are not allowed to call you 17 times a day. It’s weary work and the constant reminders of home is not good for them either. Set a time they are allowed to call you daily and make yourself available. Then, ensure that your child knows that any time outside of this set time, you may not answer.
I know this sounds harsh, but you owe it to your child, and yourself to make this ‘the new normal’. I know how hectic life on the land is – it’s not feasible for you to spend your entire life on the phone.
2. Be the calm in the storm
At one point or another, you are going to get a phone call from your child where, for whatever reason, they are hysterically crying. While it may take all of your strength to not shed a tear with them – don’t join their chaos. As adults, it is our job to be the safe harbour in the storm. Acknowledge their feelings and then remind them how much courage and resilience it takes to walk the path they are travelling. Tell them that you are proud of them and you love them. Typically, bush kids are more resilient than their urban counterparts; so, stand firm in the knowledge that you have equipped them well for their boarding school journey. And once you’ve hung up the phone – feel free to have that cry.
3. Boarding Staff are your Allies
While it might seem like you’re being a pain by texting/calling the boarding house staff, trust me – frequent communication is mutually beneficial. Has a cat died? Tell us. Has your child told you they’re having friendship issues? Tell us. Is your child really struggling with that Humanities assignment? Tell us.
Sure, we’d appreciate it if you didn’t call us in the middle of dinner, but regular, respectful communication means we get to know both yourself and your child better. As boarding staff, it is a great honour that you trust us with the care of your child, and we want to work with you to ensure that your child is flourishing.
P.S Seriously though, pack those extra undies – you have no idea how often I’ve heard a child exclaim, ‘I don’t have any undies left!’.