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
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

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

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

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

Recruitment Genius: Administration Assistant / Apprenticeship Industry

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity for an e...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders