Dear Miriam,

Our only son will be going into sixth class in September in our local country school. He is a shy, sensitive boy, but is lucky to have some good friends there. Most of these boys will go on to attend secondary school in town, and I think that this would make the most sense for my son too.

However, my husband attended a boarding school for his secondary education, as did his brothers. He has always expected our son to follow in his footsteps. But the thing is, my husband was very sporty and outgoing, so I think that’s why boarding school suited him.

He believes that boarding school will be good for our son and help him to come out of his shell. But I just can’t see him thriving there at all. It’s also a boys’ school, whereas I would prefer him to attend a co-ed.

My husband says that I can’t mollycoddle our son and that he will have to fly the nest at some point. But Miriam, we’re talking about a 12-year-old boy!

I always read your column and I would appreciate your view on this.

Concerned Mother, Munster

Dear Concerned Mother,

Thank you for your email. I hear what you are saying, and your husband has also made his point of view clear. There’s just one voice missing though: your son’s. What does he actually want?

Look, I’m sure there are convincing arguments on either side. Many will say that boarding school fosters a sense of independence, forges firm friendships and allows young people to explore a range of extra-curricular activities as well as academic subjects. Equally, there is much to be said for your son continuing his education with his established friend group, in that co-ed environment, closer to home. While you have different viewpoints as parents, I’m sure that ultimately, you both want the best for your son. Agree on that at least; and go from there.

While you have different viewpoints as parents, I’m sure that ultimately, you both want the best for your son. Agree on that at least; and go from there

I think the best approach would be to allow your son to explore both options, but without any pressure either way. There may be open days for both schools. Go along together with an open mind. Talk to current students about what they like about their school. Explore what extra-curricular activities/clubs are on offer. You might all be surprised at what you find.

Whatever the end result, your son is most likely to thrive in the setting where he feels he had a say in choosing, rather than feeling pushed to please either parent. Supporting him to make his own decision is probably the best lesson you can both give him. I wish you the best of luck.

Readers write

Dear Miriam,

In reply to the recent letter, “Can I ask my friend to help with petrol money?” (published 25 May edition).

The next time you and your friend are going out, stop at the petrol station to get a fill of petrol. When done and you are driving off, just mention how expensive it is now to fill your car. Continue on the conversation regarding how expensive the cost of living has gone now i.e. ESB, heating oil, recycling charges, insurance parking charges, grocery shop. Your friend might take the hint and offer to help you with petrol money etc.

It would be a pity if you had to cut back on your outings. We are all feeling the pinch of the cost of living now.

Wishing you luck,

Tipperary reader

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Ask Miriam: ‘can I ask my friend to help with petrol money?’