Photograph by Lucía Pereyra
Hi Tigress Mag,
I’m 15 years old and at the moment I live at home with my parents and my older brother, but I’ve never felt like I fit in with them and recently I haven’t been getting on with them at all. It’s really making me feel sad, anxious, and angry all the time, especially as I don’t really go out much so I’m always stuck at home with them. I think what I need is space and I found some really great sixth forms that take boarders. Personally I think this is the best option for me as I can still see my parents but we won’t always be together and I can have the space that I need. I asked my parents about it and they told me there was no way I could go to boarding school and now everytime I bring it up they tell me to just be happy and stop asking for things but they won’t actually talk to me about it.
Do you think it would help me to develop if I moved out at sixteen and went to boarding school? And how can I persuade my parents to let me?
Thank you so much xx
Firstly, thank you so much for writing in! We always love to hear from you and we will do our best to help you in anyway we can!
This is a really tough situation you’re in and I can sympathise hugely. I never got on with the family I was living with as a teenager and I nearly went to boarding school myself but ended up finding a high school and friends I liked, so I put up with the home situation. It truly is a tumultuous time being a teenager and when things are rocky at home, it can really make you feel anxious and unstable.
The tricky thing about your situation is that in the end, you can’t do anything unless your parents are willing to think about it. Because you are 15, your guardians are still allowed to make decisions on your behalf. This is tricky when you feel you know what’s best for you but they won’t even have a conversation about it.
Firstly, here’s my advice for talking to your parents about your idea:
If you really want them to hear you and your ideas about boarding school, my advice would be to ask them if they will let you “pitch” this idea to them. Ask them for an hour of their time without complaint or fighting. You can ask them to “humour you” so you can get your point across. Then research, research, and research some more. I am talking cost, educational benefits, travel, location, etc–everything you can think of, so that you can be prepared for their questions and show you are taking it seriously. Boarding school can often be really expensive so find out the costs and see if you can get scholarships, etc. Put together a presentation like you would at school and ask your parents if you can show them. This way you can get your point across clearly, and without interruption. Ask them not to make a decision on the spot but to just think about the idea, and then give them space. Sometimes if you have an idea that your family doesn’t agree with but you feel it is right for you, they just need time to let them idea sink in.
Now to be realistic.
Despite your best efforts, it’s of course still possible that you won’t be allowed to move out. Your parents may never agree to let you go to boarding school, in which case you will have to find a way to look after your mental health while still at home. Can you think of what might help you and your family live in harmony till you’ve finished school? Can you chat to them about your feelings and maybe ask for regular discussions about things that are bothering you?
For me, I never truly got on with my parents during my teenage years so I had to work out self-protection strategies just so I could get through my high school years. Basically, I avoided conflict with a very easy-to-anger parent and although this isn’t a healthy way to deal with things if you want a lasting relationship, you sometimes need to work out what is going to serve you now. Chatting to friends, school counsellors, or a trusted teacher can help you work out ways to talk to your family about the issues you are having. Make sure you have a support network around you even if it isn’t your family. If you don’t feel close to anyone right now, know that you will find your tribe in time.
Consider joining a club or getting involved in a new activity. That will also give you the chance to spend some time out the house in a more personal space separate from your family, while still being productive. If you’re spending all your time cooped up in the house, you’re bound to get bummed out and bump heads with your parents from time to time anyways! It’s possible to get the space you need without actually moving out of the house and attending a boarding school.
Unfortunately, being a teenager can be really tough because we are so close to adulthood yet we are still under someone else’s care and can’t make many decisions for ourselves yet. The best thing you can do is look after yourself in anyway possible.
It’s definitely worth chatting to your family about your idea and finding all the possible ways you can achieve this goal. In the end, if you aren’t able to convince them, try to have faith that things are working out the way they are meant to, and trust yourself to work out a way to live in harmony for a few more years.
We wish you the best of luck with everything! Don’t hesitate to update us on what’s happening in your life!