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Old 08-22-2018, 12:30 AM
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Default Teenage friendships

My oldest is about to start high school. He's an introvert and a homebody, which I get because I'm the same way. He has some casual friends at school, but he never gets together with them or contacts them outside of school hours. He'd rather spend his time reading, playing video games, and being with the family.

He and his long-time best friend went to different middle schools, and I found out today that the friend's plans changed and he won't be transferring to Jason's high school. They've been able to stay friends because we moms are in the habit of making plans for them to get together--if we stopped, I think they'd drift apart and lose touch without meaning to.

Any suggestions for helping him care enough to develop stronger friendships? I have no problem with the idea that he's a kid who will have a few close friends rather than a big circle, but he does need to have a few people. He doesn't have any special needs or social skill deficits that would make it hard for him to make and keep friends. I don't know whether I should back off and it will happen on its own or whether he's going to end up isolating himself if I don't step in somehow.
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Old 08-22-2018, 01:17 AM
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It's a tough situation. It's so hard not to worry about these type things.

I personally believe that when kids are in high school they should be in control of making their own social plans. I find it awkward when other parents reach out to me about getting our boys together -- I'm not saying that's the case for you, but there have been a few situations where my boys don't want to hang out with the kids and then I'm put in an awkward position. I've started redirecting them to have their kids reach out to my boys directly.

Have you talked to him about it? Would he consider joining some clubs that give him exposure to meeting other kids with similar interests?

If he's happy just having casual friends, that's ok too.
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:28 AM
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I'm sure he'll figure it out on his own. It's hard as a mom because you want to help, but now is the time where they choose their own friends. I was encouraging my one DD to hang with a certain girl because (I liked this girl and her family) they had been friends before, but she finally told me they don't have that much in common anymore. So I took a breath, stepped back, and I'm only offering my advice if she asks. (Although secretly I want to meddle.)
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:00 AM
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Thanks for the advice! I'll write a longer reply later, but I just wanted to clarify that the reason the best friend's mother and I make plans for them is that there are 9-year old sisters who are also friends. When we're making the plans, it's for all 4 kids to get together at one of the houses. The boys are closer friends than the sisters and would probably enjoy getting together on their own sometimes, too, but that hasn't happened because they haven't taken it upon themselves.
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:17 AM
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My 17 yr old is like this. If I were you I wouldn't push it too hard. Children get way too much socialization in school as it is and they are constantly bombarded by stimuli and noise and some introverted kids like mine want to be left alone to decompress at home. She does have ONE friend she goes out with now but that is only since junior year and even sometimes she doesn't want her best friend driving her home even cause she needs time alone with family where it is much more low key. Maybe some of that could apply to your son? It may have nothing to do with it, but just another perspective
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Old 08-22-2018, 11:36 AM
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I was like this as a teen. I played sports and had a part time job, but really didn't have friends whom I felt close to during that time of my life. I was from a pretty small town and just not like most of the kids there, especially the party kids. I loved just being home because I got along well with my parents (older brother was out of the house). I was very much looking forward to college and getting into a new, larger community where I could find people I connected with. I left for college not knowing a soul and loved every minute of it!

to this day I'm still a pretty independent person, not a lot of friendships but a few very long, strong ones. To this day I still hate going to parties and hanging out socially, i'd rather be doing somethign specific with someone I really like.

I think you should ask him about it. If he seems otherwise happy, well adjusted, etc, i'd leave it alone. Does he belong to any clubs, organizations, etc? or have a job?
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Old 08-23-2018, 02:32 PM
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This sounds exactly like my son.

Thank you for the advice, ladies!!
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Old 08-23-2018, 02:56 PM
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I'd wait and see how things pan out. I know we're all worried about our kids but in my experience most kids kind of find their tribe in high school, whether that's a large group or small. I don't think in most cases that parents getting involved is helpful and I would probably let things play out unless I felt that there was a bullying/depression situation happening.
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Old 08-23-2018, 06:58 PM
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We move around a lot so my children have had friends come and go with every duty station. What we have done in the past is allow them to facetime/skype and text back and forth. It has worked for some of their friends, but not for others. The one thing that we've learned is to step back and let them take control of their friendship. I was harvesting my oldest and her bff's friendship with her mom and we ended up pushing the kids away. So us moms backed off and now the kids are back to talking because there isn't any pressure to communicate to one another.

It's always hard when you aren't with your bff as much as possible, even harder when they move to a different school or state. The best thing is to be there for your child, letting them know that they can have their friends over, go to the mall or their friend's house and that it's NOT an inconvenience to you or the family. Pressuring friendships this late in the game isn't going to help them when Mom isn't around to help them create new friendships.

Good luck to your child. It's going to be hard, but they are the one who ultimately has to decide if their friendship is worth the work to continue, or if they don't care at all because the consequence of losing or building a stronger friendship lies in their hands and not anyone elses.

One more thing, true friends can be apart weeks, months, even years, but when they get back together, they carry one as if no time passed in between. So if they don't mean to lose track of time and not spend it with each other, if they are true friends, when they do get back to each other, they'll carry on right where they left off.
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Old 08-24-2018, 10:51 PM
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Thanks for talking me down, everyone. After reading all of your responses and having a couple of days to adjust to the change in his friend's plans, I'm feeling better about things.

Jason isn't much of a joiner and has avoided organized activities since he stopped playing sports a few years ago, but starting last year we told him he had to commit to one activity of his choice each year, either in or out of school. After trying a few things he finally found one that clicked for him and that some of his friends do, too, a regional quiz bowl competition for middle school Latin students. The teacher is thinking about starting a high school version of it, which would be great.

I'm hoping J will start to take the initiative to strengthen his relationships with at least one or two people, but I'm not going to worry as much if he isn't there yet. I had great friends throughout school but have found adult friendships much, much harder to develop--I was worrying that if he wasn't willing to invest the time now, when he has a lot more free time, he was going to find it even harder later. I'm going to try to look at it differently--even if he doesn't find his people in high school, maybe when he moves out and the family isn't there to fall back on for daily company he'll be more motivated.
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