Would you let your 11 year old go away for a month? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Would you let your 11 year old go live overseas with an aunt for a month?
Yes 27 79.41%
No 7 20.59%
Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My DC may have the opportunity to live in Italy with her aunt for a month this fall. I'm very, very much on the fence over this issue. I made a pole to see and would love to hear your thoughts on this.  


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#2 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 07:47 PM
 
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So, I voted yes, but I feel the need to give my "assumptions made" in making that choice:

 

* I assume that the child and the aunt have a relationship and that this isn't just an aunt that lives elsewhere and knows very little about your dc.

 

* I assume that you feel confident that your child can advocate for herself with the aunt and other adults and wouldn't keep hush out of a sense of obligation because of the situation.

 

* I also assume that the aunt would generally be respectful of your dc's needs/concerns.

 

I have an 8yo with mild Asperger's.  We have family in Italy and dh's grandmother goes "back home" there every year for the summer.  Last year, dh took my 8yo there for 10 days.  Despite the fact that we only see the relatives there when they come here every 2-3 years (plus at least monthly phone chats with my MIL) I feel quite confident that my son would be okay there for 3-4 weeks because I know that they would be very watchful, but also very sensitive to my son's needs, wishes or concerns; and I know they are not harsh disciplinarians.  I've seen them interact with my son here in the U.S. often enough and I've heard the things they did (from dh and ds) with him over there.  Of course, I'm not sure how my ds would be without mommy for that long.  He still semi-co-sleeps and missed me a LOT when gone with daddy for 10 days.  But it wasn't like he was pining for me during our few phone calls.  It was just really obvious when he got home.  And that was WITH daddy.  Wondering what it would be like 3 years from now.

 

I'm not sure what your comfort level is with the aunt and where your dc is on speaking up.  Awesome opportunity, though!


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#3 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 08:08 PM
 
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If she wants to go, has flown those long distances, the airline will have attendants walking her to connecting flights, and has spent a lot of time with her aunt then I think it will be a great experience. My brother and I spent a month with my grandparents when I was that age and had a wonderful time. I would wait a few years if she hasn't flown internationally or if she has to get herself from one gate to the next in large airports though because it is a big adjustment even if you are only going a short distance with supportive staff.
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#4 of 23 Old 08-01-2012, 08:44 PM
 
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My kids all started going to their grandparents house in AK, 3000 miles away when they are 10 for a month each alone. They have a great time. What are your concerns? Distance? Language?
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#5 of 23 Old 08-02-2012, 03:43 PM
 
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If it were normal circumstances, meaning she would be well cared for, no to minimal special needs going on, and she wanted to, I'd have no issues with it. I would be fine with DD1 doing that. 


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#6 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 05:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What are your concerns? Distance?  

 

Yes, distance and the length of time away. The longest DC has been away from both her parents is like 2 nights!  I guess there is also just this hard to describe, vague nervousness that I have that has to do with the very subtle cues DC gives me to let me know something needs to be addressed. I mean, DC is a well adjusted kid but she still has a lot of needs that are expressed in very subtle ways that I worry her aunt and uncle won't pick up on. There are other smaller issues like the fact that she had a reading delay, which is still resolving (terrible spelling) and I worry about how that will be handled at the school she will attend (her aunt is a teacher on a US base, so DC will attend her aunt's elementary school for the month she is visiting). Other things, like DC occasionally has some sleep issues - confusional arousal, which took DH and I a long time to figure out how to best deal with. It doesn't happen often but it is caused by anxiety...which I imagine she may have over there. I hate for her aunt to have to deal with that...plus, I worry about how it will be handled.

 

You know, other things like knowing what time of day DC likes to talk, is open to sharing her day, what's going on, how she's feeling. I know these things and I think they're important and that she will need this during the span of a month and for an experience what will be a stretch. I worry about DC not being able to "let down" for an entire month, always trying to be on her best behavior for that long. It would be hard for ME to live with another family for a month. I feel like it's asking a lot.

 

Silly little things like she's a picky eater and is sensitive about that. I don't think her aunt's philosophy is the same as mine on that. I worry she will feel forced to "try things" and that will add another layer of stress. I know this sounds nit-picky but I'm trying to put myself in DC's shoes and think about what it will be like for her. Perhaps I'm infantalizing her. Tell me (gently) if you think that's the case. redface.gif

 

But then I struggle with wanting to offer her every opportunity to grow and push herself. I'm willing and able to stretch my comfort level but this is quite a leap. 

 

Sigh...


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#7 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 06:45 AM
 
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Yes, I would let my kid take advantage of such an opportunity, but my kids started attending "sleep-away" camps during the summers when they were about 8 y.o. Those camps were for a week or 2 at a time and were 100's of miles from our city. So by 11, they were pretty comfortable with spending time away from home. I don't think they would have had any trouble adjusting to a month away.

 

My kids, though, are pretty flexible and adjust well to new circumstances. I think it's partly because they have had plenty of experience to doing it - like going away to camp. It's helped them to learn that they can manage even if the situation isn't their perfect ideal.

 

Of course, if they were ever in a situation that made them miserable, we would have intervened. We found though, that letting them cope with new surroundings and different expectations was a great benefit to them. Now that they are young adults, they have a healthy self-confidence about trying new things. 

 

That's our experience though and other families may find their kids have different needs. 

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#8 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 10:06 AM
 
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With the additional information, I don't think I would let her go at age 10. Would there be the option for her to come home early if she wasn't handling it well?

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#9 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 10:31 AM
 
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Your dd might behave with her aunt completely differently than she does with you. It sounds like a great opportunity for your dd to experience something new.

 

Did you ask her? I would put my concerns and worries aside and let her decide.


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#10 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 11:10 AM
 
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in light of what you have written in this thread and in the other 'intense need to know thread' i would let her go. you want to give her the be in the now experience. how better could it be.

 

and if its too harsh she doesnt have to stay the whole month does she?

 

about the let down, while its not the same you guys can skype or even  just talk on the telephone - either everyday or every alternate day. 

 

how is her aunt? is she an open minded understanding kind person? 

 

i think this is an opportunity of a lifetime. and your dd should at least have a crack at it. even if its hard initially - esp. school, i think it will be a wonderful oppurtunity for your dd.

 

you'd be surprised sometimes how children behave in a family and out of it. everything has its own special feature. i had the fear of connection when dd went on her first trip when seh was 6. yes she missed me a LOT, but boy oh boy did she have a blast at her uncles and couldnt wait to go back for more. 

 

i think its very important that we offer our children uncomfortable opportunities to 'stretch' themselves. YOU yourself will be so surprised at what you discover your child needs - what you think they need, and what they actually do need. 

 

and the country. Italy. it is a VERY child friendly culture - even in school. and an international school. oh boy what a once in a lifetime opportunity for your dd. 

 

another thing. bottom line. how you feel about this is exactly how your dd is going to feel about it. i was absolutely gungho about my own dd's opportunities this summer. i did express to her that i was a little bit anxious and nervous of the unexpected but that i knew she would have a blast. i KNEW she would love the challenge - the chance to stretch and see if she could do it. but it was me talking quite a bit to her. i've always told her - no matter what - if  you set your mind to it you CAN do it. you may not be the best but you CAN do it. 

 

i would imagine travelling alone and being away from family - the normal age for that is 10. because at the far away sleep away camps the youngest allowed is 10. i had to ask special permission to let my 9 year old attend. 


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#11 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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in light of what you have written in this thread and in the other 'intense need to know thread' i would let her go. you want to give her the be in the now experience. how better could it be.

Really? I would have guessed the opposite. 

 

 

 

 

Quote:

Quote:

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and if its too harsh she doesnt have to stay the whole month does she?

 

Part of what's driving some of my anxiety is that if we are even able to afford this in the first place, it is going to strap us financially so, no, DC will not be in a great position to change flights.  I mean, in an emergency, yes, but it won't be a small thing, yk? 

 

 

 

 

Quote:

Quote:

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i think this is an opportunity of a lifetime. 

 

See, I guess I'm not that sure about that. It just doesn't feel that way to me -- we've done WAY more "once of a lifetime" type things than this as far as I'm concerned. Of course she'll only be 11 once but I feel like it'll be just as exciting to do this in a few years. Of course she would miss going to her aunt's school...but I'm not that romantic about that. It's a US military base school - not all that interesting to me. 

 

 

 

 

For those of you...and I recognize that I'm being a tad negative about this whole thing...but, do those of you who think this is a good idea feel at all like a month is just a long time to be a guest? Am I putting adult emotions and experiences on my child? Or do children also experience stress over living with extended family for a long peroid? 

 

I will admit that or family didn't really "do this". We didn't do camp and although I love to travel, I've never lived with another family for a month. Heck, the longest I've been a guest is probably like 10 days. 


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#12 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 03:33 PM
 
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i said once in a lifetime coz of the age factor. going to italy at 11 and going at say even 14 is going to be different. also experiencing a different culture alone is another experience. plus going to school will be a whole nother experience. 

 

is SHE excited. or interested to go? or is she just ok - either way doesnt matter? 

 

if she went when would she start school? right away? will she be given time off due to jet lag. it takes about 5 days to really settle in. and if you had a choice with flights i'd take one that landed near their dinner time. so when you talk about a month its really more like 3 weeks. one week for your dd will be spent on just sleeping and waking and trying to fit things in. because of the time difference i am guessing she will be more awake at night than during the day. 

 

if the aunt is an open kind person the month will feel like days. esp. if your dd is the sleep anywhere kinda person and has her own flexible routine.


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#13 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i said once in a lifetime coz of the age factor. going to italy at 11 and going at say even 14 is going to be different. also experiencing a different culture alone is another experience. plus going to school will be a whole nother experience. 

 

is SHE excited. or interested to go? or is she just ok - either way doesnt matter? 

 

if she went when would she start school? right away? will she be given time off due to jet lag. it takes about 5 days to really settle in. and if you had a choice with flights i'd take one that landed near their dinner time. so when you talk about a month its really more like 3 weeks. one week for your dd will be spent on just sleeping and waking and trying to fit things in. because of the time difference i am guessing she will be more awake at night than during the day. 

 

if the aunt is an open kind person the month will feel like days. esp. if your dd is the sleep anywhere kinda person and has her own flexible routine.

To the first point - yea, sure, but going at 14 will also be a once and a lifetime. I can tell that you have preference for doing this at a younger age but I'm not sure earlier is better. I DO like the idea of her going during the "Childhood Years" but not this early...at least not for now. 

 

To the second point - she said she wanted to go but that she wanted to go for a shorter time. I'm not sure if she's invited to go for shorter, how her aunt will feel about that and etc. We'll have to talk that over. Though she did say she wanted to go, she hasn't mentioned it since. She has a few school friends who have traveled with their parents (one close friend moved to HI for 5th grade). I think peer experiences are a factor. I also think she wants to have a closer relationship to this side of the family. It's my DH's side and she doesn't see most of them as often - plus it's the only side of the family where she has cousins. 


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#14 of 23 Old 08-03-2012, 05:27 PM
 
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To me, a child whose longest time away from home was 2 nights is most likely not ready to be gone for a month. Building up to such an extended time by going somewhere for a week makes sense to me.

As far as kids picking up on how mom feels, I really think it depends on the child. I have a child who has been absolutely terrified of things that neither my dh or myself had any concern over.

A child who has been going away for 1-2 week sleep away camps since age 8 would no doubt be far more ready for a month long trip at 10, but then maybe personality factors at play. Some kids aren't ready for sleep away camp at age 8.

I agree about offering children opportunities to stretch themselves, but I think they need to be appropriate for where the child currently is. For example, kids learning to swim don't go from blowing bubbles to being sent off a high dive.
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#15 of 23 Old 08-04-2012, 04:07 AM
 
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You haven't said(or maybe I missed it) if the aunt is an open kind of person. Also, how do the two of them (dc and aunt) get along?

Edited to add : why is it a big deal that her aunt wants her to spend a month in her school? This sounds odd to me. It's as though the aunt wants to prove she can do something better than is being done now. The opportunity may not be there in a couple of years (since she won't be able to go to the aunt's school). Still, I'd lean away from sending her. I have a better to be safe than sorry attitude (now).
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#16 of 23 Old 08-04-2012, 05:56 AM
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  I guess there is also just this hard to describe, vague nervousness that I have that has to do with the very subtle cues DC gives me to let me know something needs to be addressed. 

 

 

 

 

Oh, definitely listen to that feeling, mama!  That's your instinct talking.  

 

 

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To the second point - she said she wanted to go but that she wanted to go for a shorter time. 

 

 

Really listen to this, too.  She doesn't want to go for a month.  


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#17 of 23 Old 08-04-2012, 06:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree about offering children opportunities to stretch themselves, but I think they need to be appropriate for where the child currently is. For example, kids learning to swim don't go from blowing bubbles to being sent off a high dive.

I think this is where I am -- I would be happy (finances and logistical factors aside) for my DC to attend sleep-away camp for a week for sure and maybe even two weeks. But that's so different - the ones in our area have weekend visits and it's so close to home. If she had already attended camp, I would be much more comfortable with this adventure. 

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You haven't said(or maybe I missed it) if the aunt is an open kind of person. Also, how do the two of them (dc and aunt) get along?
Edited to add : why is it a big deal that her aunt wants her to spend a month in her school? This sounds odd to me. It's as though the aunt wants to prove she can do something better than is being done now. The opportunity may not be there in a couple of years (since she won't be able to go to the aunt's school). Still, I'd lean away from sending her. I have a better to be safe than sorry attitude (now).

There's a lot to the whys of this. The other two cousins on this side of the family did this when they were in 5th grade so it's kind of a tradition. Other than that I'm not 100% sure why the attending a base school is such an interesting idea. Perhaps it's about a special kind of bond. Like I said, attending a US military base school isn't all that interesting of an idea for me, personally. I kind of feel like DC could see more of this part of Italy in about 10 days without attending a US school 5 days/week.  But I GET that it will be interesting to attend a different school even if it is in your same culture. That's just not really the point for me -- would that be worth the huge expense and stress. 

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Oh, definitely listen to that feeling, mama!  That's your instinct talking.  

Thanks, mama. I'm still thinking about sending DC - most likely for a shorter length of time and when someone can fly to and from with her. Nevertheless, it's nice to hear that. With things like this it can be hard to feel the difference between instinct and fear. 


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#18 of 23 Old 08-04-2012, 07:16 AM
 
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Coming into this thread late. As I mentioned in your other thread, when my eldest DD was 11 she went to Hamburg on her own. She spent 6 weeks of summer vacation with her aunt, uncle and three cousins there. She wasn't the easiest of 11 year olds, at least compared to my younger two when they were that age. Generally things went well, but her aunt is a no nonsense lady, and I think DD did sometimes give her aunt the impression she was a bit of a brat. But the experience was definitely positive for all concerned and she was able to build a relationship with her cousins that she never would had otherwise. She is still close to the eldest cousin, albeit via Facebook as he has lived in both Sydney and London since them, DD did get to see him when he visited the US a couple of years ago.


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#19 of 23 Old 08-04-2012, 11:32 AM
 
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For those of you...and I recognize that I'm being a tad negative about this whole thing...but, do those of you who think this is a good idea feel at all like a month is just a long time to be a guest? Am I putting adult emotions and experiences on my child? Or do children also experience stress over living with extended family for a long peroid? 

 

I will admit that or family didn't really "do this". We didn't do camp and although I love to travel, I've never lived with another family for a month. Heck, the longest I've been a guest is probably like 10 days. 

 

Thinking about this, I've just realized that we've often played host for a month or so for other people in our home, but we've never been guests for that long. So that's my perspective. Generally, I find that everyone settles into a routine fairly quickly and the initial "guest" phase wears off soon. Then, as long as everyone is respectful of each other and able to communicate if there is an issue, an extended visit goes pretty smoothly. 

 

Tension can mount in a number of different little ways, especially with children. Some children aren't used to having to pick up after themselves or help with chores like making meals, clearing the table, doing dishes or helping with the laundry. Kids who litter stuff around the house and don't pick up are a particular annoyance for me as a host, but others may feel differently. 

 

If the kid is a good guest, then a longer visit can be really enjoyable. If the kid is a bad (or just thoughtless) guest, then even a short visit is too long. We just hosted a 16 y.o. for almost a month and the time flew by. She was thoughtful, offered to help around the house and didn't create a lot of extra work. It would have been nice if she had offered to make a meal or do a load of laundry once in a while, but that's probably my only quibble. OTOH, we had a bunch of 16 y.o's at our cottage for a couple of days last month. They left wet towels draped on the furniture, left food out on the counters when they got their meals, didn't wash or dry a single dish, left clothes and other belongings scattered around the living/family/dining room, and they weren't careful with items (eg. books were left open and flattened face down, glasses and dishes left on the floor). They are all fun, interesting, good-hearted girls. I like them all, but their manners leave a lot to be desired, even though they were all very gracious and grateful with expressing their thanks and appreciation as I cooked and cleaned for them. Since it was only a couple of days, I didn't make an issue out of it, which I would have done if it was a longer stay (and since they were DD's guests, she actually did a lot of the cleaning up after them). 

 

Extended visits require flexibility and tolerance from both the hosts and the guests for everyone to have an enjoyable time. Inevitably there are going to be differences in how people go about their daily lives.  You have to work out things you don't normally think about, like preferences for long, hot showers in the morning vs. a long bath at night or whether the dishes are done immediately after dinner rather than left to sit on the table and counter while you go off on an evening stroll or music playing when you are reading vs. total silence. Guests may need morning coffee before they can contemplate heading off for the day and hosts may only ever drink tea. Many of these things are minor and most aren't insurmountable differences, but everyone needs to be willing to adjust with good humour. 

 

Up front, I think it's helpful to set out expectations and guidelines. There are financial issues to be considered (should you contribute to groceries, will you send money to cover any other household expenses like local transportation eg. if they take trains to visit neighbouring cities and admission fees to tourist spots etc. etc.. Will your Dd be expected to do daily chores? What kind of discipline is everyone comfortable with? If there is a disagreement, how will it be handled? Can everyone compromise a little? 

 

Some kids aren't flexible, have a low tolerance for disrupting their routines and haven't learned how to adjust a little to accommodate others. If that's the case, then it's probably better to wait for a little maturity before trying an extended visit without a parent to help out, unless the host is very generous and able to do all the accommodating. 

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#20 of 23 Old 08-04-2012, 11:47 AM
 
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 Other than that I'm not 100% sure why the attending a base school is such an interesting idea. Perhaps it's about a special kind of bond. Like I said, attending a US military base school isn't all that interesting of an idea for me, personally. I kind of feel like DC could see more of this part of Italy in about 10 days without attending a US school 5 days/week.  But I GET that it will be interesting to attend a different school even if it is in your same culture. 

 

My kids have enjoyed attending schools in different countries. It's been a bonding experience with the locals and creates a shared experience. They've stayed in touch with some of their old classmates over the years. Last weekend, one kid came into town and DS met up with him. They are both at university now and this other kid is about to start an exchange for a term at a college in the southern States, so he's seeing as much of North America as he can right now. It felt like some global networking was happening, with its roots in those shared classes years ago. 

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#21 of 23 Old 08-05-2012, 04:11 PM
 
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Well I also have an 11 year old so I feel like I can relate on that level. I'm sure there is a way to view what you originally wrote but I cant figure out how to  see it while writing this at the same time. So I think the following were your areas of concern. 

Sleep-

Food-

School-

Flying-

Boy we have had our issues w/the first two.  I am wondering if doing a chart listing the positive and negative for going would help put this decision in black and white. I'm sure that you will have your daughters best interest at heart. Trust yourself that you will make the best choice for her and your family. Exciting times.

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#22 of 23 Old 08-05-2012, 08:34 PM
 
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I went away for three months to stay with a family in Australia when I was seventeen.  It was one of the most difficult experiences in my life.  The host family was wonderfully kind - good parents, loving, took care of me, etc.  But I was sooooo homesick, I just counted down the days the whole time.  All I wanted was to see my parents again.

 

I think that eleven is way too young to be away from home for a whole month.  Even with a family member.  Especially if she has said that she doesn't want to go for that long.  If you could put it off until she's fifteen, why not make it easier on her?  I bet she would have much more fun when she's a little older.

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#23 of 23 Old 08-06-2012, 08:36 AM
 
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I think it all depends on the kid. In general, I think a hypothetical 11 yr old going to spend a month with a hypothetical aunt in Italy is on the surface a cool idea, but it really depends on the individuals involved. 

 

For my dd1, who is 11, no freaking way! She already has anxiety issues, has done very little flying and certainly none by herself, and just would not be ready for that. However, for my dd2, who is 8 now, in 3 years, I could maybe see that if it was MY sister, who she does have a pretty good relationship with, that she was going to visit. Dh's sister they don't know as well and even if she were hypothetically in Italy, I don't think I would want to do that knowing her as I do. 

 

I agree that this could be an awesome trip when she is 14 too. I wouldn't push her at all. If she wants to do it and you're confident in your SIL's abilities then I would let her try it. 

 

I have some regrets that I didn't do any study abroad programs, etc.


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