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  • Writer's pictureAlmeera Eman

Talking to your Parents about taking a Gap Year with CanGap Ambassador Nazra

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

Hey everyone, what's up? My name is Nazra, I'm a Gap Year Ambassador and I'm here to help you out on your Gap Year journey.

If you don't know who I am, I also made a video giving myself an introduction to you guys, that's on this channel, so definitely check that out if you'd like.

If you like this video, please do give it a thumbs up and also subscribe to this channel because we have so many more tips coming your way.

So in this video we're going to talk about how to get your parents on board and have a conversation with them regarding your gap year.

Now if that is a point of concern and trouble for you, I can totally relate. I am actually an immigrant. I came to Canada when I was around three to four years old. We specifically came to Canada with my parents because of education and so everything that I was doing in my life kind of led up to university and college and so taking a gap was a very daunting concept to my parents and really hard conversation to have so I can totally relate. If you're also in that same boat, I hope these tips help you.

So the first thing that I would say is when you're going into having a conversation with your parents about your gap year, be prepared and preparation looks like a lot of things. One, think about their perspective. Genuinely trying to understand where they're coming from.

Think about what their points of concerns will be so that you can address them. So prepare ahead of time, think about their points of concerns, think about the things that they're going to be confused about, potentially that they're going to have questions about and try to answer those questions to yourself before you have that conversation with them.

The other thing is, know what your gap year is about, even if it's about you figuring things out, have a plan. Have a plan to potentially figure things out. It's OK if it's going to be broad. It's OK if there aren't as many details as your parents might like, but try to have at least some sort of plan so that your parents know that this is a thoughtful decision on your end and that it is something that you are trying to think through.

The other quick thing that you should also keep in mind and try to do is come up with other gap year case studies or statistics. Let them know about Europe. They know that it might not seem as common of a thing in Canada.

It definitely is something that's more common around the world, and it's something that they should be scared of.

Then the fourth really quick thing is to remind them that it's just a year. In most case scenarios, you can actually take a year off from your university or college and hold that seat for you.

So definitely look into that process for your institution or have a plan of some sort to let them know that you are potentially considering college or university for the next year and that you are going to figure things out.

Alright, so now it's probably time for the conversation. What do you do? What do you say? How do you have this conversation with your parents?

I knew my parents would not be OK with it at all. We are the type of family that don't really talk about things in general, so I knew that if I brought something up most of the time, my mom would say no, that's kind of the end of the story and she walks away.

But this is a really, really important decision to me and it's something that I really, really wanted.

So I made sure even though she actually got up to leave several times in this conversation, but I made sure to express to my parents that I really wanted them to hear me out on this and that I really wanted to have a conversation with them on this because it was a super important decision to me, so make sure you let them know how important this is to you and really set them down to have a real proper conversation.

I was having this conversation with my mom and I wanted to make sure that she particularly felt like she was really being included in this conversation and that her opinions and her voice really mattered.

And so I kind of did this exercise of my parents and I highly, highly recommend doing something similar.

What I did was I got a piece of paper and now this is already getting a little weird for my family. We don't have conversations and we don't really walk through exercises with each other, but I got out a piece of paper and I said to my mom and I sat her down and I said could you list your five goals for me in life in general?

And so I just wrote down five goals that she had for me and beside it. I also wrote down my own five goals. Some actually matched hers. Then I said, OK, cool.

So those are the 5 goals that we have. Now I would like us to go through the decision of taking a gap year versus the decision that I don't. And for both of them, let's fill out a pros list and cons list.

So pros list for taking gap year and cons list for taking a gap year. The pros list for going to university and a cons list to go to university. So I actually had my mom fill out all the answers to that so I told her hey what are the pros of taking a gap year Mom? What do you think are the cons of taking a gap year Mom? What do you think are the pros of going to university? And what are the cons of going to university? So she actually listed that out and she went through everything that she could think of for those lists and then I added to the list after her.

So she listed her things and then I looked over the list and if there's anything else remaining, I added those quickly to the list as well and then I turned to her again and said, alright?

Well, let's look at the pros in both lists. Can I get the pros anywhere else? So the pros that I'm getting from the gap year if I went to university for example, would I be able to get these pros in any other ways at university? If I went to university, could I get the pros and the gap year list? Could I get those while I'm at university?

So how much of both worlds can I have if I'm in the other world, how can we get these pros anywhere else? And then I said all right now, let's look at the cons list. Is there any way to mitigate those cons so the concern is that she had about my gap year. Let's think about how we mitigate those concerns. How do we make sure those cons don't happen? Or we can mitigate them or they're not as extreme as we might think?

How do we handle the cons? And then I said, OK, let's look at the university list and let's look at how we can mitigate those cons, so let's just really look at both options and going through the end of that exercise actually turns to my mom and I said, What do you think? What's the better decision for me? What do you think is the best decision for me?

Again this is super important, letting them actually walk through it themselves, letting them really, properly think through the decision, even if they might have their own biases.

My mom definitely did have hers and several times in this conversation actually got up to leave and I said no, mom, can you please sit down with me and walk through this?

I know it's not something that we regularly do or ever do, but it's really important for me and that was a hard thing for me to do. It is definitely a bit uncomfortable, but it was so worth it and I'm so glad that I got over a little bit of my discomfort to really sit down and have that conversation with her.

So at the end of this exercise said alright, well what do you think?

And she said, Yeah, the gap year makes sense.

And then she said, and you're still not doing it, so it didn't actually matter to an extent that I did the exercise with her, because even though she agreed with me immediately, she was like it's still not happening because she really did have a strong opinion on it.

But the great thing about doing the exercise was that it really helped her think it through and it helped her be a little bit more reasonable with it.

So we kept talking about conversation over the next few days and at the end of it, she actually still wasn't OK.

At this point for myself, I don’t recommend this for everyone, but it is something that you have to think of, I think, and it's something that you should take into consideration is how much ownership over this decision you want to have and need to have.

For myself, I kind of at the end of the day had to decide that I was going to take the Gap Year even if she wasn't OK with it. And so I said mom, I'm sorry, but I'm going to do this and I love you and I'm going to communicate with you as I do this as well. And so every step of the way, I kind of let her know everything that was going on, but eventually actually I took the gap year as my parents said no.

But throughout the year they saw me working. They saw me figuring things out. They knew a bit of my plan. I had already communicated to them what was happening and kept them in the loop, and so for a few months they were really confused by it.

But then two weeks later I'm eavesdropping on a conversation with my mom and she's very enthusiastically telling one of my aunts that I'm taking the year off and then I'm going to be working at a company that I'm getting a startup job and etc.

So it all does end up working out and I and yeah, the most important thing for me from that experience was having a plan, even if it's not a robust plan, having some sort of plan, try to communicate that as much as possible.

Having perspective for your parents, having your parents perspective in mind and then really allowing them to walk through this decision with you and having solid say in what this decision looks like for you.

Those are my quick tips for having a conversation with your parents. Sometimes it's not going to take just one conversation.

Other things I recommend is if you have a friend who has gone through the gap year experience or if you know someone and even the Gap Year Network who has gone through a gap year. Me for example.

Feel free to reach out. Feel free to use us as an example as people who have taken a gap year as well. Show your parents these videos and have them walk through it. There's also a lot of students who have taken gap years who just blog their journeys on YouTube and have your parents watch some of those videos, maybe even set up a conversation with your guidance counselors. Guidance counselors either at high school or university so that they can walk through the conversation. This conversation and decision with your parents.

The last thing that I would say is don't give up. If the conversations seem a little hard or seem like you're having a few of them and there hasn't been that much progress made.

Don't worry, it will all come together. You have to keep trying and do try to try as early as you can. So if you are taking a gap year next year or thinking of taking one next year, start those conversations now.

Don't wait until the last minute if it happens to be last minute, that's OK, but if you can make it earlier. Try to have those as soon as possible.

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