If I send my son to a boarding school starting in 7th grade, will I weaken our relationship?

It seems like a boarding school will prepare my son for an adult life better than a conventional school, but I'm worried that if he lives away from home throughout middle and high school (and then again in college) he will feel emotionally removed from his family.


Carrie Hagen, Nonfiction Writer and Researcher, Teacher

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I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Whitaker's advice. Seventh grade is, as you recognize, a very young age during which to send a student to live away from home. If there isn't an urgent reason for him to leave now, and you have these concerns, could you not wait another year or two so that you can better investigate the boarding options and hopefully interview a few students at selected schools to learn about their experiences?

Manya Whitaker, PhD, Developmental/Educational Psychologist; Assistant Professor of Education; Educational Consultant

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I think it's important to consider why your son is enrolling in a boarding school to answer your question. Not all children are a good fit for living away from home during adolescence. If your son's personality and/or temperament are not a good fit for boarding school, it is possible that he might be resentful for being placed there. On the contrary, if this is his idea, he might be appreciative that you are willing to support him in this endeavor. That appreciation will indeed contribute to your relationship.

I agree that communication is key here. Make this decision together and no matter the outcome, you will grow closer.

Maurice Frumkin, President of NYC Admissions Solutions, and former Deputy Exec. Dir. of HS Enrollment, NYC DOE

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This is a very common question for older students, no less younger ones, and I commend you for considering it. While there are so many variables involved in making this decision, there are equally as many that are unpredictable in the future. That is, whatever decision you make now is the right one. The fact is, assuming you feel boarding school represents the best fit for your son now, there are plenty of ways that you can maintain - and arguably strengthen - your relationship while he is there. This can involve everything from parental visits to visits home to trips together to more frequent (and different kinds of) communication while there. Boarding schools typically offer many ways to address this common concern, and I highly recommend asking this question on your visits. Talk about this with your son, ask how he feels about it, and empower him to work with you to minimize the chances of this becoming an issue. Working as a team, you are sure to open up lines of communication that may not have even existed before.

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