Parent happiness and sadness about sending kids to boarding school

We had a non-teary drop off though I was sad, but it got a lot worse when kiddo had a hard time adjusting. It can go either way, if your daughters hit the ground running and are happy from the get go then you will feel much better about things soon. If not then things may be rough for a while.
The good thing is you are within driving distance, so you can come on a Saturday to see a game or play and take them out to lunch and chat. Girls tend to be better communicators so you may hear a lot, but then again you may not. Best to be prepared for both alternatives.
Also, I disagree with others to let kids fail and figure things out. It can be costly and miserable, and depending on the school they may not get any support till things get really bad unless they seek it out. Which not all 14 you are capable of doing. So particularly if your kids are going to one of the more sink or swim variety BS I would advice to keep an eye on things and be ready to jump in if needed. There are a lot of things that is much easier to fix as an adult. So I would get to know your child’s advisor and teachers and not hesitate to reach out if non-minor issues emerge. IME, they are very happy to help if asked, but will not proactively do so. Of course first you encourage your student to ask for help, but not all 14yos are willing/able to. Reasonable parental intervention works pretty well, and kids learn to do it themselves eventually. Even so it does not hurt to have some relationships.


I totally agree about stepping in as needed, especially for sink or swim schools. We initially assumed kiddo1 would fall into place on her own: surely she’d start swimming sooner rather than later. We didn’t realize how little the dorm parents /advisor got involved (kiddo1 is also pretty good at keeping her tears behind closed doors), and covid added a very deep layer of extra difficulty. Her advisor wasn’t a ton of help, but the health center ended up being an incredible resource.


As many of you prepare to drop off your kids at BS this week, you might also be heading to parent orientation meetings. You might be given this information, but maybe not. So, I am going to suggest the following to at least know….or get information about.

  • Write down a list of questions you have BEFORE you get to school. You can add to it once you are there. By having the questions written down, you won’t forget as much when it’s officially that opportunity to get answers :face_with_monocle:

  • Do try to meet your kiddo’s dorm parent(s). Get their cell phone and email. Their contact info should be available in the portal, but also keep it in your phone contact list. Over the years, the level of involvement has been minimal except for enforcing study hall, lights out, and clean up. Dorm parents involvement will vary by school, and even dorm. Some bake brownies.

  • Do try to meet dorm proctors (usually Seniors). It was our experience (unfortunately) that the dorm proctors our kid had Freshman year were never around. Being a proctor was a status thing for them and looked good on the college app. I will share more after 5/29 about how kiddo saved a kid in the dorm, while no dorm parent or proctor was around. So… Clarify their role. Are they there to guide your kid to resources? Are they only on duty certain times? Are they there to plan dorm fun?

  • Do understand the various resources your school will have for emotional and health support/services BEFORE you leave. Know in advance about health center and/or counseling center resources.

  • If your kid is playing sports, try to get the name of the coach before you leave. Also, find out the policies for outside training, club team, days off for tournaments outside of school or recruiting visits.

  • If your kid is one who qualifies for accommodations, establish the point person for that at your school - try to meet them, so if you have to call later on in the term they will know you.

  • Try to find out more details about the schedule for academics, athletics and social events over the next couple of weeks. Too often, parents have mentioned how they wish they had been given more information. JV and Thirds teams for example, might start practice that very first day of school!

  • Use your school’s parent group or parent network to get information that might not have been readily available to you.


This is funny because if these things had been enforced my kid would have had much easier start. But no, 14 yo boys roaming the halls at 3AM, zero clean up, study halls hours were completely voluntary. It was entirely up to you to follow the rules. Honestly, the proctors are seniors with more than enough on their plates with college applications in addition to leadership roles in all sorts of stuff, sports, and of course hard classes, so I am not sure it is fair to expect them to be good supervisors. Some of the dorm parents definitely are, but my kid always seem to draw the hands off variety. Which was really nice during covid last year but not so great during freshmen year. A lot of dorm parents have young children of their own, so their parenting focus may be elsewhere some or most of the time. IME, they do rally if you reach out to them but if you don’t, it is easy to fall through the cracks.


Freshman year, the dorm parents on the Freshman halls seemed to think the best way to appease the kids - and eventually knock them out - was with a huge sugar-based “feed”. They would get treats at 10 PM - but lights out was at 10:30 PM….how did that work out? Yes, I am a total kill-joy. But, just thinking they could have the feeds earlier - maybe all that sugar would help with studying for a little bit?

A typical feed in my kid’s dorm that year was Krispy treats with marshmallow and fudge on top, chocolate fondue with marshmallows and Oreos, brownie sundae with toppings, etc….you get the picture. We knew of boys who were so sugared up one night that they were swinging from pipes - one broke (a pipe) and I think a wrist, too.

The pipe and wrist can be fixed in no time at all. The memories will last a lifetime!


At Mercersburg, most of the prefects in the 9th grade dorms are 11th graders, so they are not seniors with college and class stress… they also moved the faculty with young children to houses, and the dorm deans and resident fac tend to be those with no kids or much older kids.

This year, ALL students are going through orientation together, not just new students. They all will spend 3 days doing outward-bound type activities along with “culture clinics”, as an attempt to reset the campus after 18 months of online and hybrid learning. I think it is an excellent plan.


@hellomaisy – great idea! I think all the schools that pride themselves on culture are going to need to make a special effort and investment in that. The upperclassmen who normally set and model this didn’t live it to have it passed along to them as it normally would. A thoughtful orientation like this will be a good start.

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I think this is a fabulous idea. Unfortunately, our school seems to have a decent number of international students who still have to be vaccinated, plus there is the preseason, so I am not sure how it would work logistically. But they definitely need way more social events for the kids in the fall to make up for lost time.


I dropped off my son 3 days ago and he was soooooo excited, I couldn’t help but be excited for him. I knew he would be incredibly busy and I wouldn’t hear much from him. That said, 3 days in with only the rare text letting me know he is “Good” is definitely an adjustment for me.


Sometimes my son doesn’t even spell out the entire word. “gud”


A Poem After Drop Off :sleepy: :flushed:

T’was the week after drop-off
And all through our house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even my spouse

The silence was hung
In the air like a curtain
More feelings than loneliness
Of that I am certain

Bye late chats
ByeTick Tock
Bye shoes by the door
Bye yelling upstairs to
“Get your clothes off the floor”

Your room is now tidy
Not a dent in your bed
Yet, not a moment of regret
Has ever entered my head.

There are parents on CC
Who know what I feel
The loneliness after drop-off
By Parents Weekend - it will heal

To the top schools in the country
For your dreams, answer the call
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away, all!


@Golfgr8 - no truer words have ever been (so beautifully) written. This will be our house next week.

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Just heard from my son who is a prefect this year. He thought he was in a Jr/Sr dorm, but found out once he got there that it was a 9th-grade dorm this year. They had just come back from a camping trip/hike. He called to tell me that after spending the last 72 hours responsible for 31 freshman boys he knows why parents always look “half-dead and haggard”. :joy:


When looking at BS, one of the criteria kiddo had was being able to get to my parents on her own (by foot and/or public transit). (I would have been satisfied with within a 1 hour drive of extended family.)

Last weekend this finally paid off, as Grandpa was over the moon that kiddo dropped by to see him.

Last year the kids weren’t allowed to sign out; boarding students were restricted to campus except for school outings. So, the grandparents could see kiddo on parents visitation days, and she spent a happy spring break with them - Grandpa was still driving.

I am glad that kiddo was able to have time last year with her grandparents while they were still ambulatory, even though it meant that it meant I didn’t see kiddo for 9 months…