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Why can't families leave children alone when they are on a gap year

(43 Posts)
Maccyt1955 Mon 16-May-16 11:19:37

My daughter who is aged 27 is travelling in India at the moment, and a friend was shocked when I told her I hadn't tried to contact her. Recently I was listening to Woman's Hour, and the debate concerned whether parents/grandparents should be in constant contact with their children when they were travelling abroad on gap years or the equivalent. I was amazed and saddened that parents would expect to be kept constantly updated on Facebook for example. Whatever has happened to privacy and a sense of adventure. These parents seem to feel entitled to be a part of their children's lives on every level. Why can't they let go and trust their children to go it alone. The intrusiveness is just appalling. What do others think?

Teetime Mon 16-May-16 11:23:41

Well I would be worried sick if I didn't hear every now and then just seeing a FB photo or little note would be lovely otherwise I would be flying out and getting a search party organised.grin

Juggernaut Mon 16-May-16 11:32:38

I don't think it's us being intrusive. We just want to know that they're safe and well!
Quite honestly, I find it a little weird and more than a tad heartless to not worry about them, it doesn't matter how old they are, or how sensible, they're still our babies!

tanith Mon 16-May-16 11:36:39

While I wouldn't for one minute want to part of the adventure of someone of 27 travelling adventure if it were a younger person taking a gap year I would expect some contact on a regular basis mainly for the aspect of knowing they are still ok.

.I don't think its sad at all to be concerned about your children whatever their age mine are in their 40's and I like to know all is well in their world, just checking into FB can alleviate the worry factor. Most times they don't even know I've checked up on them...

LullyDully Mon 16-May-16 12:02:05

My friend and I went on two hitch hiking, 6 week trips to Greece in the 60s (as you did ). We phoned our parents when we got back.

They never said but they must have been frantic. No mobile phones then and very expensive international phone calls.

ninathenana Mon 16-May-16 12:28:28

Oh God yes, I'd need contact at lest in a weekly basis.I wouldn't need to know what D was doing, just that she was breathing.

annodomini Mon 16-May-16 12:43:51

There was a time, not so very long ago, when mobile phones and Facebook were still in the future. I had no idea what DS2 was up to in Spain, until he phoned me to tell me his wallet had been stolen in Barcelona. Well, he did have it in his back pocket. Mum to the rescue, cancelling his cards and making sure he had some money. But I can't say I worried about him either before or after that crisis.

Nonnie1 Mon 16-May-16 14:50:10

My daughter wants to go to Koh Tao this summer. I have tried every which way to deter her from going. If she goes I will not rest until the moment she is back.

M0nica Mon 16-May-16 15:48:45

The fact that we want to know very regularly what our children are getting up to when they are on their adventures does not mean that we should be expecting them to constantly be contacting us because of our fears. Both sides need to cut the apron strings and our children nust learn to lead their own lives without us constantly butting in to check they are OK.

thatbags Mon 16-May-16 15:59:17

nonnie1, why? It's on the same planet, you know.

LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 16-May-16 16:36:38

Nonnie1 if it's any help, I've been to the island many times and it's a beautiful place, in general very safe and easy to get around.

granjura Mon 16-May-16 16:41:23

When I came to work in London in 1970, I was just 19- and London seemed very far away from home. NO cheap flights, No cheap phones, No internet. I did write home twice in the initial 6 months to say I was OK. Hitch hiked all over, went to the Isle of Wight Festival on my own, etc.

When DD1 spent a year on Erasmus in Marseilles, not the easiest of French towns- we had about 2 phone calls and 1 letter from September to July- but I went to visit at Easter (and was appalled at the awful conditions she lived in!!!)...

Keeping in touch is one thing- but expecting news practically every day is totally OTT and smothering- agree with OP.

Linsco56 Mon 16-May-16 16:41:32

Nonnie1 Are you thinking about the 2 British backpackers and the incident which took place in 2014? I believe this was an isolated incident and I also believe Koh Tao is considered a safe place to visit. If you are having concerns, then be guided by the Foreign Office. My daughter has travelled to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro then travelled on to Zanzibar. She has also worked for the summer in Camp America before backpacking across the USA etc etc etc. I know it can be worrying but all you can do is instil in her the absolute need to avoid unnecessary risks and be vigilant. We can't wrap them in cotton wool, much as we sometimes want to!

LullyDully Mon 16-May-16 16:50:28

27 is pretty old to still be fussing after her.

granjura Mon 16-May-16 16:59:15

I have a book of transcripts of letters written by relatives who went to start the vineyards in the Melbourne area in the 1830s- and also from relatives who went to New York to escape poverty in the 1930s. It took weeks for letters to reach home, so by the time their mums and relatives read that all was OK, anything could have happened to them ... We are so so lucky these days that we can be easily contacted should anything go wrong- but we also have to learn to let go...

So often think about the parents of the migrants trying to escape war and more, on boats and across so many countries... One was run over the other day by a British man who lives in Calais - will his family ever know?

FarNorth Mon 16-May-16 18:27:50

I agree with the OP.
I even think that posting on Facebook, sending emails etc must reduce the sense of adventure for the young ( or less young) person and should be kept to a minimum.

grannyactivist Mon 16-May-16 18:37:15

Three of my children took gap years long before mobile phones and Facebook, so I rarely heard from them. I would say that I didn't worry so much about them while they were away as feel relief when they got back safely.

When I fly home at the end of the week (from Norway) my husband will be cycling home and we will be in regular phone contact. Plus, I shall be following him on GPS, but very pleased to have him home after he's cycled through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.

notanan Mon 16-May-16 18:42:44

Quite honestly, I find it a little weird and more than a tad heartless to not worry about them

who said that the ones who aren't in constant contact with their gap year kids don't worry about them?
They'll always worry about them, but you can worry and still step back and let the kids have the experience that we had when we were their age. Free as a bird sending the odd postcard home.
I'm sure their parents still worry, they just don't make their kids reassure them all the time.
TBH an adult kid at home under my roof doing nothing and interested in nothing would probably worry me more than a kid off seeing the world.

Witzend Mon 16-May-16 19:23:40

Both ours went travelling for at least a year each. It was before Facebook, but I was very thankful for email, so they could let me know every week or so that they were all right.
I heard of someone whose son made no contact while travelling in Asia for over a year. Nothing. After some frantic months they had to assume the worst had happened to him. Only to have him eventually turn up out of the blue as if nothing had happened. I think I'd have killed the little b*gger.

granjura Mon 16-May-16 19:36:24

Or course you worry, all the time- but you also know you have to give them some slack and space to grow.

Grannyben Mon 16-May-16 20:21:33

I remember when my DD left to go to university, I told her never to tell me when she was going out at night as, so far as I was concerned, she was safely tucked up in her accommodation. I had no means of getting to her although, of course, I would have found a way in an emergency. Now, she's living the other end of the country but she still usually rings me when she gets home. She knows I worry (I never say anything) and she knows a 2 minute conversation puts my mind at rest. Letting someone you love know that you're OK only need take a minute but it can mean the world.

notanan Mon 16-May-16 20:32:23

do you think there might be a viscious circle of worry going on with the ones in failry constant contact.

If you're not in constant contact you can asume no news is good news.

But if you know that they fell out with their mate over he kitty but it's okay because yesterday they met some really cool guys who they've never met before and have decided to drive up to the mountains with them in an old jeep they all chipped in and bought for £50 to this out of the way hostel where there's meant to be an amazing rave scene….
……. there might be more to worry about?? no?

Barmyoldbat Mon 16-May-16 21:03:56

When I was 19 I spent over 9 weeks hitch hiking around Europe with my friend. The only contact We had with our parents was postcards from varpus places. My dad I found out had a map on the will and tried to trace our journey.

mumofmadboys Mon 16-May-16 22:04:57

Three of my sons are travelling at the moment- two in India and one in China. They E mail us about every two weeks. Of course we worry a bit but it is always lovely to hear from them.

baubles Mon 16-May-16 22:34:42

I can honestly say that when my DD went off travelling for a year I didn't worry about her. She is and was a capable person. The only time I fretted was when she rang me while she was quite unwell, she just needed to hear my voice although I could be of little practical help. Fortunately a few days later she rang again to say she was much recovered and was setting off once more.

I think she worried more about me when DH & I went off for a few months. grin