Parents' Guide: Support From Afar

Carol and Shan Gallagher have four children and live in rural North Yorkshire. Sarah, 21, their eldest, will begin her final year of a media studies degree at Napier University, Edinburgh; Rebecca, a year younger, is studying food science at the University of Nottingham. Joe and Emily are still at school

Carol said: "When they leave for university they are still your children, but when they come back they are adults and they have opinions. You find yourself having to live with two more adults in the house who will readily tell you what they think of you and ask you why you do things the way you do. But I think it's good that they criticise when they come home - it means they're growing up

"It was a big change from being a family of six to four. In some ways it's better for the other two - it means we can give them a bit more attention. It can be good fun at times when the girls do come home; we have a laugh and get the village gossip from a different angle.

"We both thought that our days at college were the best time we had and we wanted our children to go to university because of that. It gives them breathing space, being able to grow up without the responsibility of being an adult.

The girls each get a monthly allowance from their parents, but their father is clear that there are no strings attached.

He said: "None of it is anything to do with us any more. We don't even know their exam results. We would like to know but they don't tell us and we don't ask. We encourage and support from a distance but we do have to let them make mistakes. However, we did once persuade Rebecca that bungee jumping from the Clifton suspension bridge was not a good idea."

Shan and Carol checked out security when their daughters first moved in to student residence, and "made several trips to Ikea" buying things to help out, such as sets of pans. Worried that Rebecca seemed to be living on nothing but toast, they once bought her a sack of potatoes "which she seemed to think was a good idea".

Shan bought an estate car to help the girls ferry home every last item of personal belongings that have to be turfed out of halls each holiday - even a fridge which is now housed under the family stairs.

Sarah has been coming home every fortnight since she started university, Rebecca confines home visits to the holidays "and isn't very good at ringing in-between". Rebecca is adamant that she is not coming home at the end of her degree and her parents support her in that. Shan said: "There is no work here. This is the sort of place you settle when you have done everything else." However, they realise there may be a time when their daughters are back applying for jobs, a phase that could prove particularly tricky.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower