QUESTION: My husband is from another country. I met him while attending college. Even with cultural differences, we have agreed on how to parent our children, a boy who is 12 and a girl who is 9. I knew my husband was sent to boarding school when he was 13 and he always spoke about how sad he was being away from his family. Now he has brought up the subject of sending our son to boarding school next year.
I can’t even begin to express how much I object to this. I don’t understand his thinking because, according to his description, his experience wasn’t a good one. He keeps emphasizing that academics are better at boarding schools. I don’t agree and have been doing some research on his claim. What am I to do?
~ Loving Mom
Dear Loving Mom,
I know that with the Harry Potter series there has been this mystical, almost romantic, view of boarding schools that has arisen but I think people forget that Harry was an orphan. Perhaps boarding schools do serve as replacement parents to children without, but when you have children that you love why would you send them away for other adults to raise? Is academia the highest ideal or is family? And why cannot both be equally sought without relinquishing parental duty and familial enjoyment?
The Bible says to parents, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (Pro 22:6 NLT). It’s your job (and privilege) to develop your own offspring. Now you can give it up to some other adults if you think them more worthy than yourself but do you really trust them to inculcate your values, your religious and moral views, your love and concern? And if they’re overly interested in your kid, that could be a problem too, right? Most parents dread the empty nest, when their children will be mature enough to leave and will attend colleges or get careers far away. Why on earth would you expedite that by deliberately alienating them early? You’ll only provide them with reason not to visit you during holidays since they were taught to do without you for so many of their formative years. I think this is hideous.
Listen: There are private schools nearby; there are religious schools, and there are after-school tutors (if your kids prove needful of them). In the meantime, you, as parents, provide them with dividends that far outweigh reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic. And it’s reciprocal!
If your husband personally experienced the negative result of boarding school, it sounds dysfunctional that he would wish to subject his progeny to relive the nightmare. No, you raise your kids, you take responsibility, and you hug your children every blessed day that you have them under your roof. Don’t kick them out (unless you just don’t like them).
Rev. Bryan Griem
Montrose Community Church
Dear Loving Mom,
This is a very complicated issue. Sometimes couples will initially agree about things when they marry. Then a time of life may come where one partner feels the way they were raised is indeed the best way – even if they have professed to not liking it before. Family of origin and cultural issues may sound more appealing as life goes on. In the case of your son turning 13, and your husband going to boarding school at that same age could be a trigger that caused him to “glamorize” that time of his life, although earlier it was disliked.
Childhood issues affect us deeply as adults (even though they are most likely subconscious) because they are profoundly ingrained within us. Your best bet is to seek professional counseling on this parenting issue. As I am not aware of your husband’s culture, I cannot address specifics. But I do know some cultures are less open to therapy. If this is an issue for your husband, you could try presenting it in such a way as, “Can we go for a couple of sessions on this topic? I am seeing that we are having trouble resolving it on our own.”
On another note, I know a grown American woman who went to boarding school her entire teen years. She has very fond memories and states it was a wonderful experience.
QUESTION: We have four children ages 10 through 17 plus we’re hosting a teen from Germany. My husband and I are very busy parents! Last week, in addition to celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary with our family, my husband took me to a very nice local restaurant. This was a special alone time for us, which is rare. We were enjoying our dinner when a young woman, probably in her 20s, began very loudly confronting her parents about a variety of issues. This went on for several minutes. My husband went to their table and directly confronted the young woman telling her, “This is not the time nor the place to air your grievances. My wife and I are here to celebrate a very special occasion, and we’d appreciate a peaceful atmosphere.”
Needless to say, calm was restored and there were many grateful glances from other patrons of the restaurant. Now, however, my husband is feeling guilty about what he considers making a public spectacle although he quietly addressed the young woman. I told him he has nothing to be concerned about.
He’d like to know if he was wrong in doing what he did.
~ Civility in Question
Dear Civility in Question,
First, let me congratulate you on your 20th wedding anniversary. I am glad that you and your husband took the opportunity to celebrate in a special way. It is important for the sake of your marriage and relationship to spend time together. I am just sorry that your evening was marred by the behavior of the young woman in the restaurant you chose.
In my opinion, there is no reason that innocent people should have been subjected to the tirade of this young woman. I don’t know why she felt she needed to have such an angry outburst at her parents, but she should have at least found a private location for her venting. You don’t say how her parents reacted to your husband’s quiet, but forceful, words. But my guess is that they were grateful as you report the other diners were. Your husband was only asking for common courtesy for you and the other guests, and his behavior is totally understandable in this case.
But I certainly understand his feeling guilty over the incident. None of us likes to confront others and most of us try to avoid such incidents at all costs. But there are times when we must speak up for the wellbeing of all.
As a minister, I have compassion for all those in this situation, even the young woman who was behaving so badly. But your husband should not blame himself. Ask him to imagine for a moment what could have happened if he had not acted. Numbers of people would have suffered even more. There are times when we must act even when it is difficult. And hopefully the young woman gained some positive insights from his words. At least I hope so.
Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, Minister
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills - La Crescenta firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Civility in Question,
The first thing that comes to my mind is that I’m amazed more chaos didn’t break out! I am amazed and surprised that the young woman apparently quieted down and that her parents didn’t take offense at the gentleman’s speaking to her in no uncertain terms! Anyway, that’s all good and I’m glad order was restored with apparently no hard feelings.
Should he feel guilty? I don’t think so, but I have to admit that I appreciate his sensitivity in retrospect. We are all brought up – most of us, anyway – to be so darned nice that many of us are afraid to take a stand for decency when we should. Good for this guy! I think a lot of Christians think they’re supposed to be nice all the time even in the face of injustice or indecency. But remember Jesus in the temple when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers, and you can read about that in the gospels of Matthew (21: 12) and Mark (11: 15). How big of a smile do you think our Lord had on his face then? I’m guessing none! Again good for you, sir, in doing what needed to be done – and a little tip of the hat, also, to the young woman and her family for receiving the rebuke and for quieting down. That took guts, too.
The Rev. Skip Lindeman
La Cañada Congregational Church (formerly the Church of the Lighted Window)