Dear Mentor:

Should I send my young daughter to boarding school?

I wish to send my 8 year old daughter to a good boarding school for better education, as my husband gets transferred from place to place often. But, I am not sure how well this will help her to grow into a better person academically and mentally. Could I have your views on this?

Mother's Dilemma, Location Unknown

Dear Mother's Dilemma:

This is perhaps the most challenging question we have been asked thus far. This is perhaps one of your most challenging questions too, for not only does it require financial sacrifice, it also requires tremendous emotional sacrifice -- all to ensure that a young daughter grows up to be well-educated, successful, and happy.

We recognize that moving often from place to place causes discontinuities in your daughter's education. It is also emotionally challenging for her to leave her friends behind. Furthermore, it is a challenge for her to make new friends in a new neighborhood and new school, only to leave them behind yet again. Despite all this, we believe that she tremendously cherishes the love, affection, and care from a loving mom like you and from her dad, on a day-to-day basis.

In contrast, a boarding school would offer her the continuity of good education, friends, and locale. Your unmatched love, affection, and care would be replaced by the care of boarding school teachers and guardians. Although the bond of love between you and your daughter would remain strong, she is likely to become more independent of you. But it does not mean that your sacrifice and her sacrifice would not be worth the reward of a good education.

This is a very personal choice. There are too many variables here for us to give a definite answer one way or the other. These variables include: emotional ability of your daughter to live away from you, the quality and caliber of the boarding school personnel, the quality and caliber of the boarding school education, your ability to monitor the well-being and progress of your daughter, your own emotional challenges, and so on.

Whether your daughter will grow up to be a better person both academically and mentally depends on your daughter and the boarding school environment. If this combination is right, she would grow up to be a successful and healthy person. We have seen many success stories. We are also sure that the boarding schools you consider would also share with you many success stories. But it can also be challenging for some pupils.

The answer to your situation may be the same as someone else's answer, but your rationale for your decision-making is unique to you. It is you who must decide, with input and counsel from others, which of course you are doing. Our advice would be to write down all the pros and cons, as honestly as you can, of the two situations -- for your daughter to stay at home and to be in a boarding school. Weigh the pros and cons of each choice as they pertain to you, and then make that decision.

When we are not sure of the outcome of a particular action in life, we often say, "let's try and if we don't like it, we won't do it again." Well, the same is true here. If you make a decision to send your daughter to a boarding school, a close scrutiny of her progress would be necessary. Think of the initial period as a "trial," to determine if it is in fact the right decision for your daughter and you; and then, continue to reevaluate your decision on an on-going basis.

We hope that you do not feel that we have hedged our bets, but we feel ill-suited to give a more definite answer to your very personal situation. However, we feel confident that you would make the right decision for your daughter. We wish you the courage, strength, and wisdom to do just that.

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