How to Calm Your Parents Down about Your Move Abroad
I had my one-way plane ticket booked, I was making arrangements to quit my jobs waiting tables, and I was starting to get rid of my worldly possessions. My plans were tangible and reality was setting in: I would be moving to Nicaragua, alone, without a job or plan, in just a few short months. Maybe they hadn’t believed me when I disclosed my initial ideas about moving abroad, but once it was real, my parents started freaking out.
My dad felt so strongly that he actually said he would run in front of the plane if he had to.
I had a world-shaking conversation with my father, who had heard from family friends who had gotten word of my plans to move alone to Nicaragua. They told him it would be “completely foolish” for me to go to Central America on my own and that I shouldn’t go. My dad, bless his heart, told me he knew he couldn’t tell me what to do but that he was worried, really worried, about my plan. In fact, he felt so strongly that he actually said he would run in front of the plane if he had to. My mom was a bit more supportive but she was also shaken up after talking to my dad. They’ve been divorced for 18 years, so when I heard that they had talked about it, I knew it was serious.
What was I supposed to do? Ever since studying abroad in college all I wanted to do was go abroad again, and I had my heart set on Nicaragua – not to mention $500 down on a flight. I felt a whirlwind of emotions – frustrated that they had waited until now, angry that they didn’t trust my judgment, and scared that their fears might actually come true. I also felt compassion for them – it didn’t feel right to not have the support of my parents, and I didn’t want following my dreams to sever an important relationship in my life.
How to Calm Your Parents Down about Your Move Abroad
Instead of letting this bad omen deter me from my path, I took it as an opportunity to do what I wanted to do in the safest and smartest way possible. If your parents are concerned about your travel plans, here are several things that might help you gain more of their support.
Do your research.
When my dad showed me dangerous facts and told me scary stories, I searched all over for other stories to prove to him that it was not all bad. There are bad things that happen all over the world, and sometimes they are wrong place-wrong time circumstances. I studied up and knew my stuff to argue my point. I also learned a lot of helpful travel tips from other women who travel solo, so doing my research was worth the time and effort.
Gather other points of view.
Besides utilizing what I could find on the internet, I reached out to my network and asked for support. My dad was able to have several conversations with other young women who had lived or were living in Nicaragua to get some personal, real-life input on the matter. I think this helped him realized that maybe my plan wasn’t so farfetched.
Listen, be open, and take them seriously.
A lot of times when my parents wanted to talk to me about my trip plans and ask me questions, I got really defensive and shut them out. I realized eventually that it was important to include them in everything and answer their questions without attaching emotions to the conversation. If I was mature enough to move abroad alone, I had to be mature enough to talk to them about it.
Although I understood his concerns, there were a few things that I felt my dad was a bit too over-protective about. First of all, he wanted me to dye my natural blonde hair dark – not happening! However, I asked him if he would feel better if I chopped off my long locks (something I was already considering doing). Since I met him halfway, he understood that it was important to me that he felt better about the situation.
He also bought me a giant satellite phone that is as big as the first cell phone ever invented. I thought it was ridiculous and put up a small fight but gave in to make him happy. I literally have not used it once in my nine months in Nicaragua but the point is that he feels better. Next came the one-piece swimsuit – something I resisted but has actually come in handy because Nicaraguans don’t wear bikinis and usually swim in their clothing. All of these are small things that made a big difference in my father’s comfort level.
Stay in touch.
For the first couple of weeks, I had to text my parents every night so they knew that I was okay. Even after nine months, every time I leave my city to travel somewhere, I let them know where I’m going and when I’ll be back. This is not a hard thing to do that makes them a lot more comfortable with me being so far away.
After several months, both of my parents expressed that they felt a lot better about me being in Nicaragua. I don’t blame them for being worried, I appreciate their taking my opinion into account, and I know they appreciate the small measures that I took for them to feel better. I am so grateful to have supportive parents who respect my determination and my independence, and who love me enough to be worried sick about me. Soon my dad is even coming to visit to get a glimpse of my life in Nicaragua.
How to Calm Your Parents Down about Your Move Abroad*