Letting go of our children as they grow up and want to find their own way in life is one thing – letting them go into a foreign country is entirely different. You feel their nerves and excitement and can sympathise with this need for exploring the world; but why does it have to be so far away?
Luckily, parents like us have gone through the same process of worries and joy, and they know how to handle a long-distance relationship with their children.
Here is a few of their best advice so that you can feel a bit more relaxed and comfortable – until they’re back.
Remember that a gap year can happen at any time
Traditionally, parents think about gap years as something that happens right after high school or right after university. It’s a gap between institutions, so to speak. This break away from their everyday lives to enjoy an adventure abroad can actually happen at any time, though, even in the middle of their studies, so try not to persuade your children to wait until it seems more reasonable.
When they need a break, they probably need it desperately and pushing through with their studies just to have it over with can often prove to cause more harm than good.
Give them the tools to stay safe, set them free, and rejoice in the renewed energy and fresh knowledge they’ll be able to bring back home.
They can arrange it themselves
Many worried parents have found a sense of reassurance in the fact that their children have organisations to handle everything for them. While it may be a good idea if your child is sixteen, these types of volunteering schemes are often ridiculously expensive – a bit too expensive, if you ask most people.
Your kids can, in fact, manage an independent gap year and get some volunteering done without having to pay up thousands of pounds – and they’ll be able to help those in need nonetheless.
Have a look at this article, for example, and read about other parent’s experiences with their children’s year abroad, and how they found a sense of peace in letting them travel together with friends rather than all by themselves.
While the father in the article above was concerned with the lack of an actual office he could call to, seeing that his daughter arranged the trip on her own, there’s no need to worry. There may not always be a stable Internet connection in the country your child is going to, but many companies offer free international calls for a very reasonable fee up front.
It makes it a lot easier to stay in touch – and you don’t have to wait until they find a proper connection.
If they’d like to travel solo, you can find comfort in the fact that gap years and exploration is the most trendy way for young adults to spend their time lately, and they’ll find a lot of people to befriend even in a small and rural African village.
And remember that if it gets unbearable without them, you can always book yourself a ticket and pay them a visit.