Parental Stress and Gap Year Students


There may be parental stress as your child leaves for his gap year in Israel. The gap year is an extraordinary time for young adults to grow spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically. However, it can be a bittersweet experience for many parents.  You are excited for your child but missing and worrying about your child may be inevitable. EMA Care provides some guidance for parents to cope with their own stress… and make it easier for their children to have a successful year.

You are nervous about your child being so far away, constantly scanning the news for anything going on in Israel.  SO- you call your son or daughter, and you ask them how they are.  Again. And if they miss home… and if they are worried or nervous…   


 Here are EMA Care’s 5 tips for parents to have a stress free year:

    1. Don’t project your fears onto your children! Yes, you are understandably nervous, but Israel Gap year programs are full of warm, caring people who have had hundreds or thousands of students throughout the years. They understand student’s emotional health, safety, and cultural adjustment. 

Parental Stress and worries can impact your child negatively. 

No matter what age and what distance separates you, your child can pick up on your nervousness, anxiety, and worry – and this can impact their moods and impressions.

    1. Don’t get obsessed with the news. It’s alright to keep informed, but checking your smartphone and social media pages every few minutes is not helpful, and in fact, can make your emotional reactions worse. 

If something is going on in Israel, you will know. It’s okay to stay informed but do not overdo it.  Your Gap Year student is definitely keeping informed (via the Gap Year program).  But from minute to minute – you can become overwhelmed with stress, which is unhelpful to you and your child.

    1. Take care of yourselves and your families, eat, sleep, go out, have fun. De-stress yourself! Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including social activities, exercise, and relaxation time, is essential for lowering your own stress level. When your child hears that you are maintaining a routine, they will be more relaxed themselves.
    2. Stop calling your kids all the time– ~once a day should suffice. Remember that only 2 decades ago, gap-year students didn’t have cell phones and somehow kept in touch with their families.  You, as parents, did fine during your own gap-year.  Let your kids breathe.  Some parents are calling with every bit of news or question.  This isn’t healthy.  Let your son/ daughter have their year without you breathing down their necks.  They know you love them – but let them breathe.

An important part of the Israel Gap Year is to give our children independence, for them to learn to live and cope and function without parents nearby when parents call and continually ask them about their stress, if they miss home, and voicing their concerns over this and that – THAT makes students more stressed.

    1. Monitor your child (and yourselves) for signs of overwhelming stress. Symptoms are listed in our previous blog.  Stress can be handled in many ways and oftentimes is temporary.  EMA Care can evaluate the situation and make appropriate referrals in conjunction with their program counselors or administrators.
    2. Get help if you or your child need it! If you are concerned that your child is not exhibiting safe behaviors, is not listening to security instructions, or is behaving in a self-destructive way – get them help. Some schools have counselors, but not all.  Almost no programs have health care professionals on staff.  

EMA Care provides medical concierge, case management, and patient advocacy services to tourists, students, and Israel residents. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. 052 6398444

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