Schoolies is an interesting topic and one that seems to evoke a lot of emotion within parents. To send or not to send, to allow or not seems to be the question for most parents.
As parents, my husband and I made the decision to let our kids plan and go on their schoolies adventure. It started with our eldest, who is now 20, who headed off to Bali with a group of friends for a week of fun and great adventure. Our son who has gone into year 12 is already planning his schoolies adventure for 2019, and it looks like he will follow in his sister’s footsteps and head to Bali as well.
Why do we let our kids go on their own adventures for schoolies? For us, it boils down to trust and their lived experience thus far. We have travelled much of the globe with our children since they were babies. They have seen the world with us by their side, and we have taught them along the way about travel and how to manage overseas, in different countries, etc. For us, the schoolies experience is one more giant step in the direction of teaching and helping them navigate independence. Our job is to help them make wise choices, especially when we are not around. This is the premise of trust and independence.
Is it scary? Yes, at times. Are we involved in the process? Absolutely and by that, I mean, we are engaged in what accommodation they book, how they map out their trip, who they are going with. There is a lot of conversation that surrounds this decision, it isn’t something we just say yes to and then let them make all the decisions. We help them budget for the trip and put strict guidelines around how we expect them to behave and conduct themselves. We help them understand that even if they make wise choices, others may not, and in that there is risk. How do you manage that risk and what is your role in the group?
It’s important to note that our communication in our family is healthy. We have always made space for healthy and very robust dialogue and live by a value of our table which is, everyone at the table, a place for everyone and everyone is heard. Having lived this way and raised our kids this way, we have a level of communication that builds confidence on both sides, for them and for us as their parents.
And, additionally, we know what goes on during schoolies and, for that matter, any other weekend of their lives. We aren’t naïve, so we tackle the difficult subjects and talk about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. As parents, we have the opportunity to be in our kids lives, to help them become the human beings they want to be and this is just one of those incredible teaching and guiding moments in life, and for us, it has been one that we have embraced rather than ignored and disallowed.
I hope this perspective is helpful in this conversation.