Former boarders are not always aware that their boarding experiences have affected them as adults.
It might start with a feeling. That all is not right. A comment from a friend, a partner, a loved one, a colleague, a child. But where to start? Then the resistance kicks in. Wasn’t it the making of me? Do I really have Boarding School Syndrome? But wasn’t it a privilege to board?
The varied and complex symptoms of Boarding School Syndrome include:
- difficulties with relationships and parenting
- substance abuse
- an inability to relax
- a sense of failure
- physical, sleep and sexual problems
- bullying or emotionally-absent behaviour with loved ones
- unable to process the grief from the loss of a parent (who we have protected for so long)
- seeing our own children at the same age we were sent away to boarding school
These and other problems stem from the process of surviving living in exile from home in an institution. We compound them with an inner sense of shame for having had a “privileged” education.
Such an education is poor training for life and a disastrous preparation for intimate relationships. With partners and being a parent. It’s only recently that we can confidently attribute these symptoms to our childhood boarding experiences.