Taking a Gap Year: Getting Your Parents On Your Side

Sometimes, it can be hard to convince parents that taking off on a long trip instead of heading straight to college, or a job, is a good idea. Especially if they are not travelers themselves.

It can be hard for them to understand why you would want to trade a “sure thing,” like continuing your education or entering the workforce, for an open ended, nebulous, gamble, like traveling. They may worry that your trip is going to make it harder for you to come back and re-enter the “real world” as they see it. They may be concerned that you’re throwing away the culmination of all that you’ve worked for. They may feel that your choice to go traveling is an affront to their life choices, or that you aren’t valuing the lifetime of sacrifices they have made on your behalf.

If your parents, or other important adults, are less than enthusiastic about your desire for an adventure, remember that their motivations are almost always rooted in deep love and a genuine investment in your success in the future. They aren’t trying to rain on your parade. They want to see you make good choices. They just don’t see things the way you do.

Instead of stomping your foot and demanding your right to “do what you want” as an “adult.” Surprise them by engaging in the conversation like an actual adult, which is to say, by listening to their concerns and arguments, honoring their feelings and working to sell your position through rational argument and statistical evidence.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to share the data page of the Gap Year Association’s website with your folks. Now is the time to encourage them to sign up for the GapYear30 Parents edition, which will walk them through all of the reasons that your trip is a great idea and show them how to support and encourage you in your venture.

In case you haven’t figured it out on your own yet, parents react better to what they consider hair-brained ideas when you present your outside the box plans calmly, rationally, and in a well thought out manner. Rocking up with, “Yo, Ma, I’m sick of this school thing. I wanna waste a year on beer and girls between Amsterdam and Phuket. I just need to clear my head, ya know? I wanna do stuff,” will get you shot down, hard and fast. If you came at it like to that to me, I’d shoot you down, and I’m on your side.

Think It Through

The first thing you can do to convince your parents that you’re thinking about this from an adult perspective is to do your homework. Show up having thought the possibilities through. Consider, ahead of time, what their questions and objections are going to be (education, money, time, safety) and come to the table with logical, intelligent answers prepared. If you’ve got an accountant type Dad, run the numbers and bring a spreadsheet to him. If you’ve got an over protective Mother, convince that woman that your bodily safety is your highest priority by having all of the logistics considered ahead of time.

Pitch Your Passion

I guarantee that your parents want the very best for you. They want you to succeed wildly, but they also want you to be happy. Education is a big deal to most parents. We all want more for our kids than we have had and the older we get, the more we realize how very, very important education is. If your plan looks to your parents like you are trying to get out of education, or like you are trading your education for a hippie-like existence, if you present yourself as listless and wandering, you’re going to have a lot harder time selling this thing.

On the other hand, if you approach your parents with a solid plan, with beginning and end date, and a breakdown of how this trip is actually going to improve your education, make you more marketable to schools and employers, and how the things you intend to focus on while you travel are going to open doors for you that this trip is actually more valuable to your long term plans than heading straight to college would be, then you’re going to have their attention. Enroll in the Travel Access Project and we’ll help you do just that, creating a country by country educational plan that will blow their socks off.

Let your parents see your passion, show them how this trip is going to move you forward and help you rock your education and your career path.

Listen & Be Willing to Work

Few and far between are the parents who are going to give an enthusiastic, “YES!” to your grand scheme on the first discussion. They are going to have questions. Probably questions you can’t answer yet. Don’t get defensive about that. Listen, really listen, to what they have to say and be willing to work to gain their approval and their blessing.

Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out!” Or, “What would it take for you to get behind this project and let me go?” Show a willingness to carry the real weight by expressing, “I hear your concerns and I’m doing my best to learn everything I can so that I can be well prepared to make the most of this journey.”

This piece is part of the fantastic and resource GapYear30 Student, provided by BootsnAll. There is a FREE GapYear30 Parents version too. These thirty day bootcamps are designed to help you plan your Gap Year effectively.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.