Parent happiness and sadness about sending kids to boarding school

My daughters are both off to boarding school in September. They are happy and my husband and I are very much for them too. I know it’s an amazing opportunity and the school is relatively close by (3 hour drive). At the same time, I have been feeling sad and anxious at times knowing how much I will miss them. Not helped by people’s reaction at times (however accurate in some instances): “its gonna be so hard”. “You will cry a lot” “wow it’s like sending your kids to college 4 and 5 years early”. I know I will miss them terribly and it wont be easy but 1) Is the missing them part really that bad and 2) did you find the anxiety building up to drop-off being one of the worst parts.


We were all so excited about the new adventure that there were no tears at first drop off, just a lot of hugs and happiness. It got harder, on me anyway, as the years went by, when I realized that this new normal was permanent. I’ve often said that if we’d known he was going to join the military, I’m not sure we would have been so excited about letting him go at 14.

Flagging @skieurope (or any mod): This post may get more traction in the Prep School sub forum.

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Moved. Any Senior Member can move threads.


Thank you very much!

Thank you ChoatieMom. I will adopt that attitude at drop-off - it will help a lot.
I am sorry it got harder but I want to take this opportunity to thank your son for his service.

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We just finished move in and that part went so fast and was so busy we never had a chance to be sad. Today is a little harder but being able to see how excited she was this morning on facetime has helped. I just keep telling myself that this is an amazing opportunity that she worked so hard for and that the school knows what they are doing.


Thanks @2025Mom. That’s a good point - drop-off being so hectic. We are not allowed to go in the dorms (which makes sense) so should be in and out. I’ll just keep focusing on the positive. Thank you all for your nice feedback

If the school is Groton, I am at a loss as to how the rule about parents not allowed in dorms makes sense. All the kids must be vaccinated with no exception. For parents to participate in any on campus event they must also be vaccinated. Schools in our area, boarding and day and public, all ran successful winter and spring sports last year and most (all that I know of actually) are allowing parents to help move their kids in.


I would say the first few months will likely be hard. More so if your child is either homesick (and calls home often when he/she is upset) or jumps right in and doesn’t call you at all. I may or may not have used the “find my” app more often than I care to admit to try to see what kiddo1 was up to. Try to remind yourself why you’re making this sacrifice, and by the time parents weekend rolls around, pride will overcome any remaining sadness.

While I’m sad thinking about bringing kiddo1 back to school soon, I know that she’s happiest there and I’m looking forward for to seeing how she grows and matures even more this year.

Also if it’s Groton….don’t they do a pretty abrupt parent good-bye (though maybe not with Covid)?

You’ll miss them, but sometimes I feel like I talk to my kid more when he’s in school. We talk practically every night (where as when he’s home he seems like a ship in the night) and he tends to get really chatty so we feel like we know everything going on.

Also, I don’t think it’s the same as when you drop them off at college. They are not starting their adult life yet and getting ready to move on. They will still heavily rely on you and you have plenty of people at the school that are just a phone call away if you need to check up on them or want to discuss anything that is going on.


Thank you very much @vwlizard. And you are absolutely right - sometimes I just need to hear it (over and over again). I am very attached to both so it will be an adjustment for sure but in the end if they are happy there, I know I will be too. I plan to speak to them very often indeed. Others have also told me that the quality of conversations with your kids improves - you do not take the time together for granted.

From our experience …the silver lining is that when you are on college visits 3 to 4 years from now and you overhear parents fretting about dorm life etc, you can just smile and think… my kid will have an easy transition.


@alumofnone - very much indeed. A friend of mine also told me that college was a breeze for him compared to boarding school (in terms of adjusting, academics etc)

To the OP: @mhsm ….Welcome to our community of Prep School Parents!

I wrote a poem about drop off a while ago, but here are some of the sentiments.

  • Explore and/or examine YOUR expectations vs. your kiddo’s expectations. Along with this, discuss with the other parent (if there is one) what your collective expectations are about BS academics, life, faculty engagement, athletics, relationships/connectedness, etc.

  • Don’t freak out if your kiddo doesn’t call you - they are busy and making new friends.

  • Realize that there are some “losses” involved when you leave one life and journey to another BS life - for your kiddo this might feel like losing close friendships or feeling a bit in no-man’s land until they establish a life at BS.

  • Take advantage of parent support resources and parent networking resources at your BS. Get involved with the parent organization. This will help you get connected to the new school community and you will get good info from parents with older students. :thinking:…as well as good advice about future classes, teachers, etc.

  • Let your kiddo fail and/or fall. They will get up (promise). This is a hard one - especially for Type A, controlling, OCD, parents….like myself. Your kiddo will figure things out and learn how to use resources.

  • Be prepared for tougher grading (especially if your kiddo attends DA - sorry I always need to get that plug in). There seems to be tougher grading during Freshman year at some schools. Just be prepared for it.

  • Understand that at some schools your kiddo’s schedule may seem really hectic - it is. Seems like they are always rushing between classes, study hall, sports, EC’s, meetings, feeds, more meetings, etc.

  • Regarding happiness & sadness: It’s my belief (probably wrong) that happiness & sadness @ BS experience is very much tied to your expectations. Perhaps, somewhere in that vast region between your and/or your kiddo’s expectations about BS and the reality of the experience is where happiness can be found.


Honestly, I was not the mess I thought I would be when we first dropped our son off at BS years ago. I had worked myself up in my mind, and the actual separation was hard (Mercersburg also does a very sudden separation, though not this year because of covid), but driving away, all I really felt was exhaustion and optimism. I was spent emotionally, but I saw how happy and excited he was to be there, and I got such good vibes from the adults we saw that day that I was not sobbing with the radio up. I did have a good, generously-poured glass of wine when I got home. :wink:

Like the others ^^, I have tried to view it as the amazing opportunity it is, and, as such, not at all about me. It might be hard but just imagine all the good that’s coming from it!

It has almost gotten harder now that we’re at our youngest’s senior year. I am more sad about it coming to an end, to be honest, than I am about taking her to school. It has been such an important part of our lives for so many years. And, of course, as an alum, the alma mater being sung at commencement gets me every time. I’m almost happy that parents are not allowed to come to commencement this year, as I would not be able to keep it together.


@Golfgr8 thank you very much!

Your post was really insightful. In fact, I found myself mentally going through the various points and a “recalibration” of sorts took place in my mind.

In taking your advice, I came to realize there is so much more to “me than missing them” in this journey. I’ve expanded my thoughts to indeed think about respective expectations as it pertains to so many things - and certainly grading. I will also try to find ways to get involved - it is true that doing so will make me feel like a greater part of the school community and ease the adjustment.
I learnt from the days at summer camp that no letters and calls (however frustrating for me) is typically a good sign!

It does seem like an incredible, amazing journey and you are right - every such endeavor entails some sort of loss but (hopefully) there is so much more to gain and look forward to.

You’ve given me some great perspective- thank you again!

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@hellomaisy Thank you! I definitely needed to hear this. You nailed in on the head - I am working myself up to an absolute frenzy in my mind. While I am still bracing myself for the separation I’ve also come to realize that the anticipation surrounding it is likely much worse. Your post also gave me a good, welcome laugh and, as with others’, great perspective.

Your reflection about your youngest’s senior year and the BS experience it coming to an end also speaks volumes about what an amazing experience and opportunity this will be. Thank you!

Here is a bit of cheer….from an earlier post I made on a different thread earlier this month.

BS newbie here. Trying not to think about kiddo leaving and doing a good job of it even though her room has exploded into the hall and guest room for the past ten days with her packing. And her dad is stressing about fitting it all in the car, and I strained my back pretty badly just in time to help move in. Getting anxious and I am sure it will hit me hard when we drive away. But for now I will continue to pretend it is not happening.