My Teens Aren’t Socializing the Way They Did and I’m Concerned

It’s no surprise that people the world over, especially our teens, are worried and stressed that their social lives are taking a hit. We all need and crave a certain amount of human connection, even if we are introverted.

While I’m entering midlife and I know my friendships are strong, our young adults don’t always have that same sense of security. I know if I can’t see my girlfriends for a few months, or longer, things will go back to normal when we do see each other. My kids don’t have that luxury, for the most part, anyway.

And we all remember the angst of being a teen and feeling as though your social life was the thing which most defined you.

Not having a car to see your friends when you pleaded and having to rely on others to cart you to and fro was one thing. But this? This quarantine is a whole other anxiety-spiking disaster. I can’t even begin to know what it would feel like to be a teenager in the midst of all of this.

I can’t begin to know what being a teen right now feels like. (Twenty20 @Terralyx)

At first my kids were FaceTiming their friends all the time

The first few weeks in seclusion my kids seemed to be doing just fine. They were texting and FaceTiming their friends more than usual which, I thought, was good. They were missing each other as they were used to spending their days side by side. It seemed natural to want to talk about everything that was going on and catch up on each others lives.

After the announcement came they wouldn’t be returning to school, they really, really wanted to see their friends. What we all thought would be a few weeks apart, was a far longer separation and they definitely felt it.

I reminded them daily that keeping to ourselves wasn’t punishment, but for their safety and the safety of their parents and grandparents and really the whole community. They reached a point where they seemed to realize that I wasn’t going to change my mind.

Our family has started some new traditions and we’ve grown closer. I guess you could say we’ve gotten used to this new and scary normal and are trying to make the best of it.

I still don’t know when I’ll be comfortable letting my kids go out

I still don’t know when I’ll be comfortable letting my kids see their friends. I know it’s not this week though and it won’t be next week either.

As positive as it was that we all made peace with this situation, I have a new worry now; my kids aren’t socializing as much as they once were with their friends. FaceTime calls have all but stopped. They’ve been putting their phones down for longer periods of time while getting engrossed in a Netflix series or doing stuff outside— which is all great.

But as a mom to three very extroverted kids with busy social lives, how do I know what’s normal? Are they isolating themselves too much? Will their relationships suffer? When do I become concerned that they aren’t reaching out to friends enough. And since they haven’t been anywhere except my house and their father’s house in almost three months, what can I do to keep them from feeling isolated?

We know that loneliness is bad for people. Are their siblings and mother enough for them right now? Will there be long-term effects I need to watch out for?

I just hope that my kids’ friendships pick up where they left off

I certainly can’t force my kids to pick up the phone and call a friend. They’ve said they just don’t feel like it and they seem to be lost in their own world between our four walls. Maybe it’s just part of the survival process and they are adjusting beautifully and I don’t need to worry at all.

My more fervent hope is that they will pick up where they left off with their friends. Much like moms do when they are busy with life, then reconnect and it feels like no time has passed.

And maybe this has made them learn a thing or two about friendships and the quality of people they want in their lives because you never know what will happen next. Mother to mother, please tell me: how much are your kids socializing and are you concerned?

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.

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About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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