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Anyone else find it's difficult for your teens to retain friendships? Not really due to any fault of their own but other teens (or their parents) aren't good at keeping connected? We've made friends, or so I thought, over the years, especially through drama class, but not a single one of those families ever calls or invites us to do things. WE have made EVERY effort to invite them to do things, and they have come and enjoyed those events/activities. But only ONE family has ever reciprocated. It's very difficult for my 16 year old son to only have ONE friend. And I don't know what else to do as I feel I have done EVERYthing I can to change this.

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One of my teens would like more friends. It's definitely on him though. I watch him not follow through with kids because he's a little nervous all the time. I think you just have to leave it to the kids at this age. And college is soon. And the pandemic will end. Sigh. I hope.

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My kids had very few friends in high school. Part of that was due to being homeschooled in an area where it's not very popular, and living in an area where people have lived forever so have friends and cousins they have known literally all their lives. 

College changed everything for them. Well, one didn't get to go back to college due to covid closure, but still keeps in touch with friends in other ways. 

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I think a discussion about friends is important to managing expectation and seeing reality. The vast majority of people we interact with are never going to be more than acquaintances at best, no matter how much time we spend with them.  Most people only have 1-5 true friendships and it takes their lifetime to build each one, and usually not at the same time. And you just can’t predict where those friendships will take root.

If he is going to look outward and only see the social media aspect as everyone has so many friends - he is setting himself up for disappointment.  And while he is mired in disappointment, he could be missing a chance at friendship.

I think it’s really really important to discuss this with kids these days bc they do NOT truly understand this and they usually do not intuitively connect those dots.  Talk about your and your husband’s friendships and social lives.

And remind your kid that the best friendships are usually found while enjoying something else.  So go enjoy his interests for that reason alone and if an opportunity comes up to get to know them better - coffee after the event for example - take it.

 

Edited by Murphy101
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We may be the odd ones out here, but I invited teens over here - teens that my kids were friends with - or liked and wanted to get to know better.  We did this *regularly*. All the kids enjoyed it. One family (twice) invited a bunch of kids over. No one else did. I don't know why. 

Later my teens started making their own plans with friends - getting together at a park, coffee shop, etc.  But we still had gatherings here.

But it is hard to find good friends. I think finding one good one is something to be thankful for. 

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Would you happen to be homeschooling one child but interacting with large, homeschooled families?  We found something similar when we were homeschooling one child.  The families with a number of children didn't tend to invite "a friend" to participate in an activity.  Either there were siblings around to play with or the family would invite another family who had several children the ages of their own children so that everyone would have a playmate.  

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It's been really hard for my homeschooled teens to make friends. DS is an introvert who has an unusual interest. Almost everyone he considers a friend is an adult who shares his interests, so he doesn't really have peers to hang out with. Our city only has one high school, so all the teens meet their friends at school and many of them are from families who've lived here for generations, so the parents already know each other too. Most homeschooled kids end up going to the public high school.

My other teen was in an activity when she was young and then moved to another very time intensive activity. She had two good friends there until one girl just decided to dump the other two and stopped talking to them for no known reason. Then DD stopped activity #2 and went back to activity #1. The second girl is still her friend, but they don't see each much any more and while she's been away from the activity #1, the other girls became teens and formed their little friend groups that DD can't seem to break into. She was trying to get to know some new friends when Covid put an end to that and the few homeschooled friends she had when she was younger have changed so much that she can't find anything in common with them anymore. There was one new neighborhood friend and she moved to the other side of town, so DD has really had trouble maintaining any friendships. I'm thinking of encouraging her to join one of the public school sports teams because we plan to homeschool high school, but lack of friends will be a real problem for her.

Another problem is those Facebook posts where everyone says how easy it is for homeschooled children to make friends. They are always people with young children who can go to park day and their kids will find plenty of people to play with. I make a point to say something about how older students with heavier workloads,  teens having more specific interests, and fewer teens at homeschool activities DOES make it harder for homeschooled teens to find friends.

 

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That is very frustrating. I think public school kids can be guilty of this because thanks to school they see their whole cohort of acquaintances every day whether they bother to make plans or not, and the parents are not in the habit of facilitating. Any field trip thread on here will remind you how flaky homeschoolers can be.

My teens' friends have all come from extra-curricular activities that they have participated in for years. Some of those friends were homeschoolers but few still are.

Pre-Covid I was pretty dismissive of free time spent online, but now my dc do a lot of social connecting with friends oonlin and I've had to apologize for my previous attitude. In fact, ds has expanded his circle of friends playing online games with friends of friends and friends that moved out of state years ago but reconnected online. Dd, on the other hand, seems to have less social contact now that she doesn't see people in person, but she also doesn't seem bothered. 

So I do count on my teens' to make and maintain their own friendships, and they often don't look like what I would expect, or pprefe, or do myself. Like @Farrar

 College (or whatever) is not too far off at this point.

Edited by SusanC
left off the empathy.
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All my children have found few friends. 2 in particular invited people to stuff but it was never reciprocated.  The others have one particular family friend group and that's it. 

We have a ton of homeschoolers in our area but they are so busy with activities they don't have time to just hang out. Between sports, classical conversations, scouts, church activities etc you end up only seeing people at a scheduled activity. My mind wanders to the thought that maybe no one likes us but my mom's coffee hour is 6AM on a weekday morning so we could be back by the start of school and the dreaded schedule so my guess is that it isn't particularly true even if it feels like it at times.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, SusanC said:

My teens' friends have all come from extra-curricular activities that they have participated in for years. Some of those friends were homeschoolers but few still are.

Pre-Covid I was pretty dismissive of free time spent online, but now my dc do a lot of social connecting with friends online. In fact ds has expanded his circle of friends playing online games with friends of friends and friends that moved out of state years ago but reconnected online. Dd, on the other hand, send to have less social contact now that she doesn't see people in person, but she also doesn't seem bothered. 

So I do count on my teens' to make and maintain their own friendships, and they often don't look like what I would expect or prefer or do myself. Like @Farrar

 College (or whatever) is not too far off at this point.


Word-for-word, this is our current situation. DS is currently outgoing, and DD is currently rather introverted. DS wants more opportunities to connect with people in person as well as online; we have to really push DD to participate in anything involving "people," because if we didn't, she would spend literally all her free time by herself in her room watching shows or reading. Right now because of covid, we're doing youth group (one hour/wk, alternating one week zoom and one week in-person) and that is the extent of her social interaction apart from the two online courses she's taking. She doesn't want more than that. We'll be finding a sport for her once we judge it's safe, but that's more for the physical activity than for friendships (although we'd be happy if she meets some nice people).

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Why do the families need to get together for the teens to be friends? We were never on those terms with the parents of our kids' friends, and none of them ever invited us either to their house or to an activity. I have always provided a space for the teens to hang at our house, and much of my kids' teen socializing happened in our basement because it was a convenient inviting space - but I stayed out of it, and so did their parents.

What is your DS doing to get together with his friends? He needs to be the one to initiate. Do they refuse his invitations when he calls?

DS made his friends through martial arts and invited them to our house for martial arts practice and hanging out. DD only ever had one friend before she befriended some college students when she was taking classes at the local U; none of the kids we met otherwise were a good fit for her.

Edited by regentrude
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4 hours ago, scrapbookbuzz said:

Anyone else find it's difficult for your teens to retain friendships? Not really due to any fault of their own but other teens (or their parents) aren't good at keeping connected? We've made friends, or so I thought, over the years, especially through drama class, but not a single one of those families ever calls or invites us to do things. WE have made EVERY effort to invite them to do things, and they have come and enjoyed those events/activities. But only ONE family has ever reciprocated. It's very difficult for my 16 year old son to only have ONE friend. And I don't know what else to do as I feel I have done EVERYthing I can to change this.

 

At 16 or so teens seem to want to (even need to) break away from family.

It might help, Covid aside, to help facilitate your son being able to “hang out” with his peers without family. 

I would not even assume that kids whose families don’t invite yours are not wanting to be friends with your son. 

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I’m not sure if there’s a real “answer” here. By the teen years, I’ve pretty much stepped out of the way. My kids stay connected online and work out their own plans, then run requests by parents for transportation because we don’t live in a walkable area or have public transportation.  We don’t really entertain at our house, and their friends rarely do at theirs. It’s very, very rare for me or other parents to suggest a get together, unless we’re trying to plan an actual community event.
(I’m mostly talking pre-COVID. These days, my younger kids are only online with friends and the older ones have limited outings.)
Most of my kids have “friend groups” that ebb and flow, with just one or two close friends at a time.

My own experience, as a public schooler in a walkable town, was that I had one close girlfriend through the bulk of my high school years.  It was a terrific friendship, and I didn’t and still don’t feel like I missed out on anything for not having a bigger group. We’re no longer close, but I wouldn’t go back and change a thing.

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I'll agree with some of the other posters that family get-togethers with friends stops working at this age.  Usually earlier.  We were friends with lots of families of similar-aged kids when mine were young; we all got together and the moms chatted and the kids played and it was great.  But around puberty, kids being the same ages doesn't work for friendships anymore - it's common interests and personality types that get along and all that.  My kids have some friends still from those young ages, but many/most faded away as they developed different interests.  Parents can't facilitate as they get to this age.  Kids have their own idea of who they click with.  Whole family get-togethers with teens are not going to work unless you are all unicorns together.  If the parents click, likely the kids won't, or vice versa.  If you have multiple kids, no way are they all going to click. And anyway, 99.9% of teens do not want their parents hanging out with them and their friends (if a parent is in the background at a house, sure, but not in the room and not both parents visiting and/or siblings along for the ride). It's time to hand over the reins and let the kids find their own friends and handle their own get-togethers.  It's not your job anymore, even if you're willing to do it, you can't find friends for another post-pubescent person.  As others have said, friends are usually found doing things you like to do - this is of course even more super-extra-hard right now with Covid.  But even in regular times it can be hard, especially as you move into different stages of life.  

It's not utterly impossible to find friends with common interests even when you can't meet people in person.  One of my kid's best friends they met online on an art site.  Yeah, they live in another country, but they chatted and skyped online, and they've now visited each other's homes multiple times (plane trips and all); they've been friends now for almost a decade!

Edited by Matryoshka
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By 16 I would imagine most of the communication would be between just the kids and in that case, from my experience it is usually one person doing the majority of the calling up to make plans.  Something along the lines of calling them up and seeing whats going on that weekend and do you wanna get together.  Nothing formal, unless there is a formal event happening.  Yeah, parents might still be needed for rides but that generally gets figured out after they've established they wanna get together.  By 16, I wouldn't imagine families getting together together so the kids can hang out.

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2 hours ago, Matryoshka said:

It's not utterly impossible to find friends with common interests even when you can't meet people in person.  One of my kid's best friends they met online on an art site.  Yeah, they live in another country, but they chatted and skyped online, and they've now visited each other's homes multiple times (plane trips and all); they've been friends now for almost a decade!

This is exactly us and our family's experience.

I moved here as a young adult, I am now a middle aged mother of a teen and a young kid. I have family scattered all over the globe. Most of my interaction with my family has been through the phone even before the time of decent phone rates or apps or video chats. Deep relationships can still be kept, nurtured and maintained.

As far as friendship goes, I have always wanted my kids to have in-person friends since much of their family is online. So our house has always been the one kids hung out, particularly a group of 7-8 boys my son has grown up with. But he has hung out with our opposite neighbor since they were small the most. I always thought it was proximity that made them spend so much time together, perhaps it was a factor but during the pandemic he was the one person he wanted to play social distance basketball with while other parents asked for their kids to play too. He declined in person while he plays online  games with them all the time.

Most people gravitate towards "their" people be it online or real life. I joined the board for homeschooling my kid when we are PS. We still virtual PS not HS, I am still here after 6 months because I found like minded people in the fitness thread and later in the book threads. 

So I have just let my kids form friends organically and most of them is online though I always emphasize in person too. I will also say, teach your kids to be ok with their own company because you do not know where life takes them. In my case, I came from a small house with 6 people and living alone sort of drove me crazy so I just became friends willy nilly with anyone who would show minimum interest. It was unfair to both them and me as they were forced to interact more with because it was blatantly obvious I was lonely and longing for company and I felt like they were pity friends with me. The friendships that have lasted years are the ones that were made because we liked each other or had things in common .Distance or frequency has not diminished it. 

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3 hours ago, Patty Joanna said:

...and this continues into real-life adulthood.  People with large families are by default "off limits" to my small family during holiday seasons.  It's something to deal with.

My son is 25 and when he was little I told him that he had to MAKE his family--that he had to find a couple of good friends and keep them forever.  And he has done so with one in particular, and with another couple he met in high school.  He had the same 6 kids at every birthday party from the time he was 3, until he was about 12.  All but one of those kids has moved away--like out of state. The one who has not moved is the one he has known all his life--and kept as a friend.  

We worked with an ed-psych person for his testing when we were homeschooling and she said that some kids do GREAT with just one friend--they are out of band (smart/quirky/obesessed with one thing or another) and they are perfectly FINE and happy if they find one (or two) people to connect with--and that seems to have been borne out with my son.  

One other thing I noticed when my son was in Kindergarten:  he really really wanted to be friends with a kid named (fake) Joe.  Joe had a twin brother, Moe.  Joe didn't need a friend. But another little kid, Fred, in the class was also alone (only child), and HE needed a friend.  I pointed these facts of life out to my son, and he started playing out with Fred at recess and they became pals while my son was still in school.  When we left to homeschool, the schedules diverged, but at least they had a couple of good years.  (The schedules diverging friendship-drift happened to me, too, when we started homeschooling...so I had to go find some new friends, too,)

Rambling.

That is a great point.

I think it is so important to clue young people in on the dynamics of finding friendships and how to look for willing friends. One of my dds always yearned to be accepted by the "cool" kids, but wasn't so interested in more of the wallflower type personality. Second dd looked for friendships in the second group and has a large group of friends with varying interests, while my older dds friend group is much smaller. Younger dd can always find someone who is available from her group, but my older one struggled with loneliness. 

 

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Thank you, all, for your responses. And I welcome more! As for the "college isn't too far off" responses, neither of my kids is really keen on college at this point. They see the expense of it, and my husband's and my own struggles in finding employment afterwards, and wonder about the wiseness of a degree with no promises at this point. And I don't blame them. We have been batting around the idea of trade school for them. But even with that, there is a money issue. For now. I know we'll figure something out. 

All that being said, if any of you have teens that are into Minecraft and/or on Discord, let me know. My son does like interacting with people that way!

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12 hours ago, scrapbookbuzz said:

Anyone else find it's difficult for your teens to retain friendships? Not really due to any fault of their own but other teens (or their parents) aren't good at keeping connected? We've made friends, or so I thought, over the years, especially through drama class, but not a single one of those families ever calls or invites us to do things. WE have made EVERY effort to invite them to do things, and they have come and enjoyed those events/activities. But only ONE family has ever reciprocated. It's very difficult for my 16 year old son to only have ONE friend. And I don't know what else to do as I feel I have done EVERYthing I can to change this.

 

I find this is true with almost every friendship involving our family.  We are the ones to plan things, invite, host, feed, etc.  Honestly, I don't mind much, especially with my teens because then it's at my house and I know what's going on.  My oldest is 17 and drives and makes plans with his friends pretty much on his own these days, but even then his friends usually end up here.  

 

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8 hours ago, scrapbookbuzz said:

Thank you, all, for your responses. And I welcome more! As for the "college isn't too far off" responses, neither of my kids is really keen on college at this point. They see the expense of it, and my husband's and my own struggles in finding employment afterwards, and wonder about the wiseness of a degree with no promises at this point. And I don't blame them. We have been batting around the idea of trade school for them. But even with that, there is a money issue. For now. I know we'll figure something out. 

All that being said, if any of you have teens that are into Minecraft and/or on Discord, let me know. My son does like interacting with people that way!

I went to college locally but didn't connect with people there at all. As an adult, I found my friends at work, church, or from apartment living. The few people from my youth I still keep in touch with are folks I met at work, and some old apartment complex neighbors who lived upstairs. No one from high school or college. 

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11 minutes ago, EKS said:

The only way my teens were able to make friends is by attending school.  I'm sorry to have to say that on a homeschooling board, but there it is.

Without getting into the dynamics in my home, can I ask if many of those friendships lasted, say, past college? I imagine that kind of extended connection is easier these days with the extent of social media, even if friends attend different colleges or take different career paths.

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10 hours ago, scrapbookbuzz said:

As for the "college isn't too far off" responses, neither of my kids is really keen on college at this point.

 

20 hours ago, SusanC said:

College (or whatever) is not too far off at this point.

That was what my "whatever" was supposed to acknowledge. I was thinking that getting out of high school and into anything else where there is a variety of people there, often by choice, with "there" in common and all their variety of life experiences can really open the door to meeting people.

But regardless of what comes after high school, it can be cold comfort for the years remaining until then.

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1 hour ago, SusanC said:

Without getting into the dynamics in my home, can I ask if many of those friendships lasted, say, past college? I imagine that kind of extended connection is easier these days with the extent of social media, even if friends attend different colleges or take different career paths.

Zero in the case of the older one.  The jury is still out on the younger one.

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23 hours ago, scrapbookbuzz said:

Anyone else find it's difficult for your teens to retain friendships? Not really due to any fault of their own but other teens (or their parents) aren't good at keeping connected? We've made friends, or so I thought, over the years, especially through drama class, but not a single one of those families ever calls or invites us to do things. WE have made EVERY effort to invite them to do things, and they have come and enjoyed those events/activities. But only ONE family has ever reciprocated. It's very difficult for my 16 year old son to only have ONE friend. And I don't know what else to do as I feel I have done EVERYthing I can to change this.

What stands out to me is that your teen isn't independently pursuing his relationships. Your involvement is likely acting as an obstacle to friendships at this age. For example, my 16yo has a long time homeschool friend whose mom texted all of the other moms about a birthday beach trip. My teen was SO ANNOYED, 1) because she believes her friend should be capable of organizing her own gathering and communicating such, and 2) because I don't run DD's calendar, she does. She wants her social engagements to run through her and not me. This puts a strain on their friendship because they're operating at 2 different levels of maturity and dd has to take a conscious step down to connect with this friend. Kind of like when you're trying to get a 13yo to connect with an 11yo- the 13yo resists because they're compelled to move forward, not backward, in maturity and independence.  So I would say that there may be some letting go on your end and probably a little push towards growth and independence on his end that needs to happen. 

My other thought is, are you allowing him into the spaces that teens connect (texting, social media)? I hate to say it (because I hate that it's true) but if your teen doesn't have access to social media (around here I would say Instagram and Snap Chat are big communication hubs) then they are going to be limited. I would never say that it's a must because the pitfalls are real, but the reality of it needs to be acknowledged. 

A big difference that I've noticed between friendships in the homeschool space versus non-homeschool is that once my kids moved into brick and mortar schools, I stopped knowing their friends concurrently with them. In homeschool, you generally meet all at the same time. That's not typical. Now, my kids make friends away from me and I meet them much further down the road. Parents aren't met generally until parties or sleepovers and even then it's pretty cursory. At this stage, I'm depending on my kids' ability to choose friends and navigate various situations. 

Lastly, ALL of my kids have been lonely in high school, no matter how many friends they have. I remember being lonely in high school, too. There's something about this age that seems to go hand in hand with loneliness. So part of this is coaching them through that, and the other part is giving them enough freedom to develop their own friendships apart from me.

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1 hour ago, SusanC said:

Without getting into the dynamics in my home, can I ask if many of those friendships lasted, say, past college? I imagine that kind of extended connection is easier these days with the extent of social media, even if friends attend different colleges or take different career paths.

DD 23 homeschooled through 7th grade and private schooled through high school (at a teeny tiny school). She's still in touch with 1 friend from high school. Almost all of her friendships at this stage are from college.  I think high school friendships matter, mostly for the relational training they give you, but there is definitely an impermanence to them.

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11 minutes ago, EKS said:

Zero in the case of the older one.  The jury is still out on the younger one.

 

1 minute ago, sassenach said:

DD 23 homeschooled through 7th grade and private schooled through high school (at a teeny tiny school). She's still in touch with 1 friend from high school. Almost all of her friendships at this stage are from college.  I think high school friendships matter, mostly for the relational training they give you, but there is definitely an impermanence to them.

Thanks. My own high school experience was not something I am comfortable drawing generalities from when talking to my dc, so I appreciate additional data  points.

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12 minutes ago, SusanC said:

 

Thanks. My own high school experience was not something I am comfortable drawing generalities from when talking to my dc, so I appreciate additional data  points.

If it helps, I stayed fairly close with my high school friends through the first few years of college, but by the end we weren't really friends anymore. Now I'm just Facebook friends with them, which involved reconnecting after about two decades of silence.

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My daughter is really struggling right now.  She gave up her main activity (ballet) prior to Covid, so she has lost that social link.  She had planned some other things for this year, but then Covid hit.  Unfortunately most of her friends/acquaintances are not taking Covid precautions seriously, so she doesn't feel safe seeing them.  Others left for college this year.  She is so lonely, but because of the pandemic her options are limited.  For the first time, she is seriously regretting homeschooling (although she wouldn't really want to attend in-person classes right now either).  It just sucks.

 

Does anyone know of a message board or something that she might be able to chat on?  She has looked but hasn't found anything.  I would love to find her something like we have here at WTM.  Anyone know of anything?  She isn't a gamer, but she does love Animal Crossing.  A general teen board would be fine too.

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1 hour ago, edelweiss said:

My daughter is really struggling right now.  She gave up her main activity (ballet) prior to Covid, so she has lost that social link.  She had planned some other things for this year, but then Covid hit.  Unfortunately most of her friends/acquaintances are not taking Covid precautions seriously, so she doesn't feel safe seeing them.  Others left for college this year.  She is so lonely, but because of the pandemic her options are limited.  For the first time, she is seriously regretting homeschooling (although she wouldn't really want to attend in-person classes right now either).  It just sucks.

 

Does anyone know of a message board or something that she might be able to chat on?  She has looked but hasn't found anything.  I would love to find her something like we have here at WTM.  Anyone know of anything?  She isn't a gamer, but she does love Animal Crossing.  A general teen board would be fine too.

My daughter is a bit younger, but she's in a very similar situation. During the shutdown, she gave up her main activity and with Covid still limiting options for new activities, it's hard to even find new potential friends. Next year she starts high school and will be the only child left at home. We really want to homeschool through high school, but I keep wondering if that will be a huge mistake for social reasons.

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We are extremely fortunate to have 4 - 5 families where both the dc and the parents are friends. Us moms walk together multiple times a week, and I'm THRILLED to have this blessing in my life. Our dc get together on-line daily, D and D weekly, Magic the Gathering both in-person and on-line (I think?), and through homeschool sports. My dd has less contact with her girl friends as she doen't initiate too much, but she has 2 - 3 good buddies she's made through homeschool, a college class and church.

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It is so hard for moms to see their kids hurting😔. Although it won't help right now, my daughter made some of her best friends by dual enrolling at a state college. She found her tribe you might say. Of course, Covid means that her dual enrollment classes are all online now, but we do let her frineds come over, and we let her go out (with a mask) with friends sometimes. She started at the state college at 16. If Covid weren't an issue, dual enrollment might be a good option. 

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