Boarding School Blues

This article originally appeared on MindQuestGroup.com

Written by Justine Campbell.

For many Hong Kong parents, it’s that time of year to say good bye to children off to boarding school overseas. Whether it’s your first year, or you’re in the routine of things, saying “good bye” is always difficult and presents its own challenges.

I recently spoke to Carolynne Dear at Expat Parent about the challenges faced by ‘parents left behind’ and offered some words of support.

Following is a brief snapshot of my advice for any parent facing the “boarding school blues”, or read the whole article “No Turning Back”, Expat Parent September 2016.

  • There is no “cookie cutter” response when a child leaves for boarding school and all of your emotions are valid. Most importantly, however, is that you move on from unhelpful thoughts and process what you’re feeling. I encourage all caregivers to talk through what they are experiencing, whether it be to a trusted friend, family member or professional.
  • Get support on the mechanics of having a child at boarding school. Reach out to other parents in a similar situation so that you can expand your support network both at home and within the school environment. Finally, get familiar with the house master/mistress to ensure you don’t miss out on the things that matter – like birthday celebrations, photos of special events and so on.
  • Agree on communications before your child sets off for boarding school – when and how often. And be realistic: Children often have full schedules, and be aware of time differences.
  • Don’t be afraid to move on at home, but handle changes with care. Again, communications is key. The last thing you want to do is alienate your child away from home. But then again, don’t shy away from downsizing and room changes, particularly in a city like Hong Kong.
  • It’s good to get busy after saying good bye, but don’t take on to much. Take time to work through the emotions of having an empty(ier) nest, and don’t paper over your feelings! You’re not alone.