It’s hard to figure out how to be a parent and a friend. Boarding schools help you be both. Here’s how.
Bonding While Boarding: Developing a Meaningful Relationship with Your Teen
It happens all at once — your chubby-cheeked, freckle-faced kiddo has turned into a teenager. Their interests, language and even clothing can change in an instant! But it doesn’t change the fact that they’re your child, and you will always want what’s best for them. As it turns out, they want what’s best for them, too. They may just go about it differently than you.
In Steven James and David Thomas’s Wild Things—The Art of Nurturing Boys, they highlight a notion that is obvious, but often overlooked: teenagers shift their focus from their parents to other areas of influence, including teachers, coaches and peers. That may seem like a huge obstacle if you’re trying to connect with your teens. Enter boarding school.
Respect Goes Both Ways
From the first consideration of boarding school, the decision to attend a boarding school is not accidental or happenstance. Joining forces on this intentional choice is just one step down the path to mutual understanding and appreciation. By demonstrating trust in your student’s ability to thrive in such an independent environment, you’re opening the door for them to reciprocate that trust.
“Without feeling like their parents are breathing down their necks, teens are more likely to open up.”
Renowned adolescent psychiatrist Meg van Achterberg told the Washington Post in their article 7 mistakes parents make with teens that talking to your children in a respectful tone is absolutely crucial to a successful relationship. “Mutual respect is so important to teens,” says van Achterberg. A simple and perhaps obvious concept that still eludes so many parents. When your student steps onto their boarding school campus, they immediately take accountability for their academics, extracurricular activities and daily life in a way that is only possible when living away from their safety net. In that moment, respect is inherent.
You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone
Whether you feel ready to ship off your youth (and their angsty attitudes right along with them) now or are grappling with how you’ll feel once your chicks have flown the coop, it’s difficult to imagine what life might be like without them around. One amazing outcome of boarding schools is that both parents and students find that they’re able to forge a deeper connection than if they’d waited for the college years to instill independence.
“…you know that they’re learning independence in a safe space, so you’re more willing to trust them.”
College can be an overwhelming place to claim independence and can often happen at a time when teenagers think that they’re ready to sever ties with their parents. By beginning the process of encouraging independence while still providing guidance and support at an earlier age, your relationship can reach a beautiful balance. They know you’re there to help them and may be more willing to ask for it and, in turn, you know that they’re learning independence in a safe space, so you’re more willing to trust them.
Location is Everything
It’s clear that timing and location are key elements to finding good footing with your teenager, but even the best-laid plans can fail in execution. The failsafe of the incredible staff surrounding your student at a boarding school is one that will help you sleep soundly each night. Knowing that you’re supported by talented mentors who specialize in adolescent psychology and behavior helps you let go of the reins a bit and focus on the more fun aspects of your teenager’s life.
“The failsafe of the incredible staff surrounding your student at a boarding school is one that will help you sleep soundly each night.”
In a study we conducted to reveal The Truth About Boarding Schools, 86% of students reported that they were satisfied with their family lives. No coincidence there. Absence can make the heart grow fonder, while intentional and meaningful conversations can make the relationships even stronger. Without feeling like their parents are breathing down their necks, teens are more likely to open up. Of course, we can’t guarantee that they’ll want to tell you everything, but we sure can provide an environment that will make them eager to share!