The Boarding School Decision: Some Thoughts From a Reluctant Mother

This timely post comes from our friends at St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School.

We share an open letter from EA Raines-Whorton (SA-S mother) written to fellow parents as they grapple with their school boarding decision and, perhaps, more fundamentally, the whole notion of boarding school.

In her “A Message for Reluctant Boarding Parents,” Raines-Whorton gives voice to parents who never even considered boarding school a possibility along with the balance, and perspective, that parents struggle to find when loosening, or letting go, of the reins in the face of greater opportunities.

The idea of giving up, reducing, of changing one’s parental role can prove wrenching.

Raines-Whorton, and her family, find an even greater family in St. Andrews-Sewanee.

A few excerpts:

“Boarding school? My child? If anyone had suggested to my husband and I two years ago that we look at a boarding school for our daughter’s high school education, we would have politely smiled and thought, “You do not know us! We are not social elites…

…While on campus, my perspective began to change. I began to see a community that would be dedicated to my child’s intellectual and emotional growth. However, I was still not convinced…

What followed our visit was much soul-searching, weeping, questioning, examining of other boarding schools, and serious examination of local options. As a family with no prior experience with boarding school, navigating the unchartered waters gave rise to probably one of the most difficult few months in our family’s history…

Despite our desire to hold on to our child as long as possible before having the “real world” take hold, we had to realize that the opportunity for growth far outweighed our desire to hold on to the day-to-day interaction…

…From the day we signed the letter confirming our intent to send our child to SAS, until a month after school began, there was not a single day that I did not weep. My husband wept.

It is January now. Do I still have tough days? Yes, but very few. SAS and Sewanee have become integral parts of our lives. The faculty and staff have become our extended family….”

About the Author
  • Clark

    Close families find it hard to let go of their child until they see the caring, the nurturing, and the opportunities.


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