So you’ve decided that you want to go abroad. You’ve found the perfect place, the perfect itinerary, and the perfect friends to go with. It’s filled with art and architecture and history, and it’s (mostly) budget friendly. There’s just one little problem: your parents have serious qualms.
So what do you do? Here is an easy 4-step process for convincing your parents to let you go abroad.
Every parent is different, and so are their concerns, ranging from your safety to budgeting to the mother lode of all objections: “You don’t know how the world works.” Not only are their reasons varied, but they also aren’t necessarily the most obvious. Take the time to really listen and understand what their concerns are—it’s vital for the next step.
Now that you know what their concerns are, research! If their concern is safety, pull up some stats. Budget a problem? Pull up some cost estimates. They’re afraid of not hearing from you? Promise to call once a week, a text per day, etc.
Preparing does three things:
That’s the biggest objection all parents have, after all (see above). You’re just not experience enough, can’t possibly take care of yourself, and won’t be able to do the basic things of survival without your parents by the side.
This is sometimes appropriate, and sometimes not. If the objection is budgeting, offer to work extra hours to pay for some of the trip. If they think you can be learning more by going to summer classes, or working at an internship, offer to write up a report of your experience/otherwise demonstrate how you’re learning from the experience. What’s important isn’t necessarily what you promise, but rather that you’re willing to negotiate.
There’s two elements involved in presenting your reasons: location and content. At times, choosing the right location to do it is as important as your actual content. Pick a setting where it’s clear that you’re trying to convince them to let you go abroad, rather than a more informal one. That way, your parents are prepared to receive your reasons, rather than feel attacked out of the blue.
When presenting, don’t be aggressive. You have good arguments and have prepped well, so there’s no need to get defensive if they question you about it. Being calm does more for your case. Make sure to restate their concerns as they’ve presented them to you earlier, so that it’s clear what you’re trying to do. Be open to feedback and other concerns—this is a conversation, not a battleground. Make sure to get across how much you can gain from the experience of going abroad (check out our previous article on why you should go abroad) and what this experience can give you that no other experience can. Make the conversation logical but also personal—you know best how to communicate with your family.
At this point, you’ve gained your parents’ begrudging approval, and everything is a go. Make that you repay their trust by following through on your promises. If you promised to call once a week, actually call once a week. If you promised to work extra hours to make money for the trip, actually do that. This is the easiest thing to mess up and the most important thing to not mess up. Having gained your parents’ trust, don’t mess it up by not following through. Doing this well means you’ll be allowed more freedom in all parts of your life in the future.
And there you have it! A simple, 4-step process to convincing your parents to let you go abroad. Happy traveling!