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Is your child a “parachute kid”?

Updated: May 30, 2022

You dropped your child off at a boarding school, college or university and went back to your home. Or, maybe your child flew there by herself/ himself/themselves. What just happened? Well, you just made your child a “parachute kid”!

This term is being used for children who are sent alone to a foreign country, to public or boarding schools, in order to study and live abroad while their parents stay on in their home country.

You are convinced that your child is at the best place where teachers and staff are very much involved in making this new experience the best years of your child’s live.

Nevertheless, as you can imagine, these “parachute children” very often have problems that are unique to them or go beyond homesickness and loneliness:

Settling down is a big issue. They are in a foreign country where everything is different: the people around them, the being without family, the foreign food, the language, the weather, the school and the housing.

Adaptation to the new environment might take a long time, depending on the individual circumstances and the personality of the child.

The feeling of hidden loss is real! These children feel that they have “lost” their family, lifelong friends, extended family, culture, country, and food.

They might experience a feeling of grief because maybe there were no or bad goodbyes when they left their home country.

All these challenges on top of the already difficult teenage or young adult years can be hard on the children and the parents at home. Having your child in another country and the phone, internet or video being the only connections, takes adjustment with a lot of patience and time.

My own daughter went to boarding school and I remember those early days as, let’s put it nicely, “challenging”. The sleepless nights with endless worrying were definitely there…​

It doesn’t make it easier that in those years they naturally retract from the people closest to them, us, their parents, because they want to be independent. So, they pull away, and you are somehow left to wonder if they are okay far away from. You don't know because you only get short or no answers, and you wish they would talk to someone you trust.

For this situation, I offer an extra set of ears in a “neutral space” and a judgement free zone. As a certified Teen Girl Coach, I specialize in providing guidance, especially for girls during difficult times. I offer a safe place to talk through all their problems, to listen to them when they voices their thoughts, and to help them find a positive outlook while they are experiencing life on their own.

I have been an expat for over 25 years and have lived in 9 countries, 15 places and have set up a home 26 times (as my husband is in the hotel and tourism industry). I have also been a boarding school mom for 3 years and a college mom for another 3, so I have been and still am in your shoes! Because of all my cross-cultural experience and understanding, I am able to coach girls from different nationalities in 3 languages (English, Spanish and German).

I am just around the corner because I offer my coaching sessions online. As I know how busy the boarding school schedule is, I reserve hours in the evening and on the weekend for these girls.

One session at a time, I will help your daughter to discover her strengths, gain self-esteem and agency! Like one of my coaching clients says: “My favorite part of coaching with you is that no matter how tangled something is, you find the ends of the strings and make me untangle them!”

Please let me know if and how I can assist you and your family!

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