One of the most difficult situations to handle emotionally is the situation of being physically separated from a loved one: be that a parent, a spouse, a partner, a child or even a dear friend. There are times when we cannot control the reasons behind such a separation: death is one of those situations; the prioritization of commitments is usually a more common one. By the latter I mean when in a bid to provide for your loved ones you are compelled to make choices that lead to such physical separations.
Such separations are not easy to handle. There are many out there that go to bed every night with the thought of a loved one in their memory. There are those that are fortunate enough to express such separations through tears on the outside. And then there are those that can only cry on the inside. Either way, you cannot help but feel for them. My close college friend Derek, is one such man. He lost his mother when we were in college and upon reading my blog about her as we commemorated breast cancer awareness day, he wrote to me saying that not a day goes by that he doesn't think of her. There are many others out there with the pain of such separation.
While the situations described above are those that are largely beyond human control, there are situations when we voluntarily bring about such pain on ourselves. The one that I am often asked to advise on is sending children away to boarding school. There are valid reasons when such an action is required: marital issues between parents; single parent challenges, the unavailability of quality schooling in the home country where the parents are based. However there are those parents that voluntarily choose to send their kids away when none of the above reasons exist. And in doing so, these parents bring about the kind of pain on themselves that I talked about earlier.
When one digs deeper as to the motivation behind such a move, it usually comes down to the pursuit of academic excellence. Between the ages of 9 and 13, several children go away to boarding schools with their parents enduring tremendous pain in sending them away with the hope that they will excel and end up in a top college and eventually land a great job. I would argue that the majority of such parents face disappointment along the way and cannot help but question such whether the sacrifices they made were worth it.
But it is important to see this situation from the child's perspective as well. The majority of children that I have spoken to that have gone away to boarding school have had a very positive experience. They have been homesick at times but by and large have loved the experience. However, as they grow older the majority of them have regretted the lack of time they had with their parents and siblings growing up.
The boarding school decision is a very personal one for a parent and I am not one to judge such a decision. I am a mere observer in this matter but what I do know is that our time is finite. The moments with our family are valuable. And time is something none of us can reverse. So maximize the time with your loved ones because lost time can never be replaced. Once it's gone, it's truly gone.