Jubuliant July!

Are you all excited that July is almost here?  We are having an amazing summer, although I do have a secret fear that July is just going to fly by and then it will be August (and in the Deep South, August = school beginning again!)

What are you doing to celebrate summer in the Northern Hemisphere?  How are my Down Under family doing?  Love seeing everyone’s celebrations on Instagram – don’t forget that The Parenting Passageway is over there now!  Come find me!

So, this July, here are the things we are celebrating:

4- Independence Day

22- Feast Day of St. Mary Magdalene

25- Feast Day of St. James the Apostle

26- Feast Day of St. Anne and St. Joachim, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Are you thinking about summer menu planning?  I have a back post on July Menu Planning to grab!

I am looking forward to sunflower festivals, catching fireflies, being in the pool and lake and at the beach.

Things to Do With Children:

  • Fourth of July decorating; patriotic crafts
  • Find traditional patriotic American music to listen to!
  • Go to Independence Day parades!
  • Sunflower crafts
  • Drying herbs and making things from herbs
  • Picking produce; canning and preserving
  • Earth looms and weaving could be lovely; see my summer Pinterest board for even more craft ideas

Things for the Home:

  • Going through the school room or school area and cleaning out
  • Ordering art supplies and new resources for the next school year
  • Making new seasonal things for the home
  • Changing out toys if you are on a toy rotation for smaller children

Homeschooling Fun!:

First of all, a HUGE thank you to all the readers I had consultations with this June!  It was incredible to talk to people from all over North America!  I love you all and it was my pleasure to talk to everyone!  I hope everyone is pulling together their planning!  If you still would like some help, I will be over at Wonder of Childhood and Get Organized: Sketch It Out! e-course with Lisa Boisvert McKenzie!  Also offering consultation slots for those participants!  This will be fun and exciting!  If you want a consultation, I can fit a few more into July so email me at admin@theparentingpassageway.com and let me know your needs!

So, as for my own planning…..My personal goal always  includes having 75 percent of my planning done by the end of July.   I am about 60 percent done planning third grade.  I have two of our high schooler’s courses in the planning works (11th grade, and these two courses are essentially things we are adding on to Oak Meadow’s World History and Chemistry courses), and I haven’t really started on 8th grade yet but it’s all in my head!  So, by the end of July, hopefully the vast majority will be done!  I can only plan an hour or so a day, usually first thing in the morning, so I have to be happy with what I get. ❤

We are taking several trips in July, and I am starting to see a few pediatric physical therapy patients again after a break from formal patient work for quite some time.  It is going to be a busy and full school year to come, but I am planning on jumping on it like riding a bull this year!  Hang on and finish! LOL.

Would love to hear how you are doing!

Blessings and love,

Screen Free Summer Activities

I have noticed that summers are different for kids than they used to be.  Younger kids have their days filled up with camps and other strucutured activities whilst their parents are working, so there aren’t a lot of kids at the pool or  out in the neighborhood during the day.  Many younger teens are not outside either, and many older teens are not getting jobs, so I am wondering what children and teens are doing all day in their homes.  I thought maybe parents would like a list of some activities to do to help their children through the summer!

  • Chores and work- Summer can be a great time to clean things out, donate things, deep clean, paint a teen’s bedroom and change the decor
  • Thrift store shopping – can be fun with changing decor or finding motors and small appliances to take apart
  • Pool, lake, beach swimming (some teens may go through a phase where they don’t want to go to the pool or lake because it’s “boring”; some teens go through a phase where don’t want to be in a bathing suit)
  • Sewing, knitting, and other projects – keep a stash of yarn, fabric remnants, buttons, and more around
  • Painting, drawing, modeling
  • Encourage your children to write and put on a play
  • Backyard water fun – sprinklers, basins of water, the hose
  • Baking
  • Building projects – could be large scale outside building or Lego’s or building blocks or boxes!
  • Making tents from old blankets/sheets/blankets indoors or outside
  • Backyward camping
  • Create music together; sing together
  • Gardening
  • Create collages or other multi-media art together
  • Board games and puzzles
  • Stacks of books from the library
  • Model airplanes, model building
  • Older teens can work for money – babysitting, pet sitting
  • Volunteer work
  • Observing nature; nature journaling; catching and releasing frogs, toads, salamanders, lizards, insects
  • Train your dog, your horse, your hamster, your chicken!

For smaller children:

  • Chalk
  • Jump rope, hopscotch, bubbles, sandbox, swing
  • Tea parties
  • Doll play
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Use something like a sit n’ spin or a mini trampoline
  • Play kitchen – you can create one
  • Play dough
  • Face painting
  • Balloon play – volleyball or baseball with balloons
  • Cover a table with a blanket – instant fort
  • Lacing and beading

Field Trips for the Family:

  • Hiking
  • Trip to beach or lake or river
  • Theaters
  • Puppet shows
  • Fire stations and police stations
  • Zoos or aquariums or animal rehabilitation centers
  • Historical Sites
  • Mini-golf
  • Bakery trip
  • State and National Parks
  • Horseback Riding on trails
  • Berry Picking

The Minimalist Journey

Sometimes as mothers, we aspire to minimalism because things in our own lives seem complicated.  I recently started a thread on a  Facebook group I am on, about paring things down for the school year, especially for those of us who are are homeschooling older teens who have to be places but can’t yet drive, and for those of us who are homeschooling larger families (way larger than mine) and having the activities of the older teens impact the family all the way down to the littlest ones.

Can you really have simplicity and minimalism with homeschooling and parenting older children and teens, with multiple children of large age ranges?  Some families make a very conscious decision to roadschool or wildschool and have the work flexibility to do that, and I think many of us think that is what minimalism looks like.  However, many of us don’t have that kind of lifestyle, and I think we need to remember that minimalism can look different to each family because each family is different! 

So, as many of us are planning for the fall, I wanted to throw out some ideas I am toying with.  Last year was our absolutely most complicated year ever, largely not due to anything within our control, so those years happen, but for a “normal” year… here are some ideas!  Share yours!

  1.  What are your values and your most valued communities?  Pare things down around that.  You don’t have to do all things.  There are often all kinds of things that look great for homeschooling families or even when children attend school.  There can be pressure to keep up.  The more we rebel as this generation of parents and say that our children don’t need 20 activities during the school year to “keep up” or “get ahead” or “get into a great college” (when they are 10 years old!), the easier this will become over time.  In the meantime, be a rebel and pare down to your most valued things.  Find out what your children value!  Our girls value being home and with us, church choir and that community,  and their horses.  Our littlest guy values being home and playing!  As parents we value being outside, our community of friends, music and yes, learning!  So making priorities around those things makes sense for us.  Minimalism begins with priorities!
  2. If you live in a community where the driving factor is high, you are going to have to say no just on the basis on the drive sometimes. I went through a phase where I was done driving, and chose everything to be within a 15 to 20 minute drive (because in our area, driving forty-five minutes to an hour for something isn’t unheard of).  This year, we will be branching out a little in driving to a homeschool enrichment program  one day a week that is 40 minutes away, but this is the first time in several years we have had a drive like that.
  3. Figure out what you need – does it bother you to go out daily?  Can you homeschool in the morning and go out in the afternoon and feel fine or do you need days where you don’t leave the house?  How many days?  If this is what it is, then you have to have a schedule that reflects that you need to be home three days in a row or whatever it is that makes you feel good!  If you need to be home, cross days off on your weekly calendar so you don’t normally schedule things on those days!
  4.   Streamline your stuff.  We spend a huge amount of time in the United States managing things like a home, the stuff in a home, a car, etc.  Pare down!  Summer is a great time to do this!  You can’t organize a mountain of stuff.  Just get rid of it!
  5. Enlist help in cleaning and cooking.  Everyone in the family can help in some way!
  6. Plan margin.  Margin during the day, the week, and the year.  Plan 32-34 weeks of school knowing it will stretch out into the full number of school weeks you need.  Plan four days a week knowing that is enough.  Plan margin for the day – rest times, down times.  That is just as important as learning times.
  7. One way to get down times during the school day is to COMBINE children in lessons.  See my back post about some ideas regarding the Waldorf Curriculum.
  8. If you have appointments for health care, try to get as much done in the summer as possible. That is what most of the families  I know whose children go to public school do.  I know so many homeschoolers who feel like we should be super accommodating to appointments and things because we have potentially have that flexibility (and then we feel stressed we aren’t getting enough done!)  Use summers, breaks, one day a week once a month that is planned ahead for appointments, errands, etc as much as possible.
  9. Make the mail  your friend.  There are so many things you can order on-line. See how many groceries you can get on-line and if you can’t get the rest at your local farmer’s market.
  10. There are seasons for things.  Don’t feel badly about what you can or can’t do right now.  Parenting is a season!

Please share your favorite minimalist tips!

Blessings and love,

Three Steps in Dealing With Challenging Behavior

There probably have been complaints about children and teen’s behavior as far back in time as one can imagine!   In light of behavior that is less than desirable and is repeating, I think there are three main steps to take as a parent in dealing with this behavior head-on:

  1.  Ask yourself if this is normal behavior for this age?   Many parents have expectations that are far beyond their child’s age and need to be reassured this is part of childhood maturation.  We are losing perspective on this in American society rapidly.
  2. If it is normal behavior for the age, but it is still making the family full of tension, ask yourself how you will guide it with boundaries so your family can live in harmony? 

a.  For a young children under the age of 7, guide with the principles of rhythm carrying things (lack of sleep, hunger, thirst, etc doesn’t help any behavioral situation!), songs and pictorial speech to move things along, and the child making reasonable restitution for what isn’t going well.  If you determine things aren’t going well due to a lot of stress and hurriedness in the family, try to decrease the amount of stress. Look carefully and listen to what the child in front of you  is telling you, but do balance that with the needs of the family.

b.  For the child ages 9-13, guide with the ideas of rhythm and restitution in mind, and rules of your family and of life in general – how do we treat each other in kindness; how do we treat ourselves and others.  Listen carefully to what your child is saying, but also state the expectations and boundaries firmly and kindly.   Go in with the idea that these things will need to be worked on 500 times or more to stick.  If things in the family are super stressful for varying reasons, consider simplifying and also adding in techniques for dealing with stress for the whole family.

c.  If the child is 14-18, guide with the ideas of family rules in mind, and consequences and restitution.  A teen can vacillate widely from seeming very mature to seeming very young and immature, and it is important to remember that the teenaged brain is not yet fully developed.  You must still be there to guide, and you are not at the “friend” stage of parenting.   Teenagers still want boundaries, limits, and a guide.

3.  If the behavior is not normal for the age...

a.  Is it quirky  behavior and being exacerbated by stress and hurriedness? Simplify things and see if things improve.

b. Is it truly not appropriate behavior and not responding to anything you do?  Then you may need professional help  through family therapy or other behavioral intervention.

c. If you are a homeschooling family, do not assume that going to school will make things better.  I think kids who are having problems at home often will have problems at school unless the family is so chaotic they will function better in a more structured environment. But if the child themselves is really  having problems stemming from themselves, they will have problems across environments.

Just a few thoughts,


Waldorf Homeschooling: Combining Grades

One of the most asked question on ANY Waldorf homeschooling list or Facebook group is , “How do I teach my 1st grader and 3rd grader?  My 7th grader and my 11th grader?”

We are so lucky as Waldorf homeschoolers!  If we understand Steiner’s picture of the developing human being and really meditate on the children in front of us, the answers of how to combine and bring things will come.   If you already know the WHAT’s and the  WHY’s behind why you are bringing things for a particular age, then you start to be able to unravel the HOW’s.  If you want to know what the iconic blocks are as I see it for the American Waldorf homeschooler, try  this post regarding American Waldorf homeschooling.

Here are just some suggestions from me.  I have homeschooled three children of very different ages over 11 years now.  This year the children will be in 11th grade, 8th grade, and 2nd grade.  Remember, this is about HOMEschooling, not re-creating a Waldorf school in your kitchen.  We need to not only meet the developmental needs of the children in front of us, we must teach with even more soul economy than a teacher in a Waldorf School due to multiple ages and the need to create loving homes and loving family life on top of teaching.  It is a tall order, and I think combining is how to do it!

These are my suggestions for combining, with more ideas to come soon:

For the Early Grades, combining children in Grades 1-3:

  • Consider that the foundational experiences of the Early Grades are things that are in the home environment all the time, and are things everyone can participate in on some level – cooking, gardening, cleaning, handwork, chores, farm work if you are on a farm, canning and preserving food.
  • The foundation of Grade 1 is fairy tales, Native American Tales and Nature Tales.  These stories  can be done with all children ages 7-9 (1st through 3rd grade).   Third grade can be a wonderful grade for Russian fairy tales, folktales, African folktales – and these can be brought to first graders as well.  At the end of the year you could put in an Old Testament block for your third grader or bring the stories through painting or modeling for your third grader.  Or teach the first grader their letters through the Old Testament stories.  Yes, the Old Testament stories speak most strongly to the third grader, but the first graders can grasp the stories too on a different level.
  • Bring the important component of PRACTICE of skills through games! Lots of games! Together!
  • Get everyone outside – movement and nature are fundamental to reading, writing, and math in these grades.

For Combining Grades 1-3 and Grades 4-5:

  • Coordinate  the blocks – everyone is on a math block at the same time, everyone is on a language arts block at the same time.
  • Blocks that can correlate in my mind:
  • Scandinavian folk tales – Norse myths – cooking, handwork, painting
  • African tales and scenes from Ancient Africa
  • Latin American folk tales and studies of the Maya and the Popol Vuh
  • Ocean studies – animals and botany for 4-5th graders, animals and exploring the ocean for 1st and 2nd grade. Drawing, painting, modeling.  Could do this with any biome, the biome that you live in!
  • American Tall Tales for the 2nd-3rd grader and North American geography for the 5th grader (or 7th grader if you are studing First Peoples of the world).
  • Native American stories and local geography for all American homeschoolers
  • Weather for all ages – hands on, not heady – poetry, nature studies, observations, tied into gardening and preserving
  • Blocks of math games
  • Nature studies and stories to go with Man and Animal in fourth grade and Botany in fifth grade

For Combining Grades 1-3 and Grades 6-8:

  • Coordinate your blocks.
  • Have your middle schooler help you with practical work and games for skill practice for the 1-3 grader
  • Coordinate fairy tales/folktales/First People Tales with such things as Han China (could be good 6th grade parallel to Roman Empire); with Exploration studies/Renaissance Studies; with American history; with geography of South America, Europe, Asia, Africa
  • Coordinate building in third grade with shelters around the world/studies of First Peoples and tribes in 7th grade
  • Coordinate general nature studies of ocean, sky with exploration, navigation, astronomy in upper grades.
  • Coordinate  textiles block of third grade with an economics-based geography block in eighth grade such as tracing cotton and its impact around the world.
  • Tales from First Peoples for younger grades with Earth Science for older grades.

For Combining Grades 4-5 and Grades 6-8:

  • Everyone is on the same block type at the same time.
  • Hero tales from any land and geography of that land for the 6-8th grader.
  • First people studies for all grades
  • Ancient Africa in 4th or 5th or 6th grade to Medieval Africa in 6th or 7th grade to studies of African tribes in 7th grade to modern Africa in 8th grade
  • Waterways of the world – could encompass geograpy, exploration, navigation, astronomy, inventions
  • Great inventors
  • North American geography and Colonial America including diverse Colonial figures in 7th or 8th grade
  • Revolutions in 8th grade (Simon Bolivar) and Latin American geography of 6th or 7th grade, combined with First Peoples studies of those areas.
  • Book studies for mamas who need a break!  I like the book studies over at Magic Hearth.
  • Four Elements block for 4th-5th graders and physics for grades 6-8
  • Cooking for younger grades, write out recipes and make a book – combine  with chemistry for grades 7-8
  • Man and animal block with any geography studies for upper grades
  • Weather in the lower grades and the meteorology block of 8th grade

These are just a few ideas.   We could go through the whole curriculum like this.  I think as Waldorf homeschoolers we need to stop trying to separate our children in little boxes, figure out the iconic things we really want to separate out and bring for the particular age, and then figure out how to combine!  There are so many neat ways to do it that makes homeschooling so much easier!

If you need to talk more about finding the shared spot between grades and ages, DM me  at admin@theparentingpassageway.com for ideas.  This is one of my favorite subjects.






The Christian Corner: The Episcopalian Homeschool

I don’t normally spend a lot of time here on issues specific to homeschooling as an Episcopalian, but since there are no resources devoted to Episcopalian homeschooling at all (you can see more about that lament on back posts on this blog), and I have had multiple mothers ask, I thought I would lay out a few thoughts.  I hope eventually to turn this into some kind of e-book so those of you who are interested have a small resource to get started!

I like to think of the progression of Episcopalian homeschooling as a threefold structure, so these are my ideas.


Ages 0-7, Episcopalian homeschooling is about BELONGING.

  • As parents, we model from our Baptismal Convenant that we “seek and serve Christ in all persons” and we “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being, with God’s help.”
  • We go to church and celebrate the church seasons, the Eucharist, the feast and fast days. We look at the stories in the Holy Bible as God’s story of LOVE for us and for all others.   We, as parents, learn for ourselves what these things mean and it is part of our daily and weekly and yearly routine.
  • We USE our Book of Common Prayer in daily and weekly life.  This is important, because we don’t have a lot of creeds or statements the way other Christian denominations do.  Our path as Episcopalians is largely a path of prayer, of joy, and of standing up for what is decent and right.  It isn’t complicated.  But it does require work.
  • We spend lots of time in nature, not only because Episcopalians are concerned about climate change and want to be informed stewards, but because nature is a strong strand of our beliefs that ties back into the Celtic roots of Anglicanism.

From Ages 7-14, Episcopalian homeschooling is about BELONGING and HEROES.

  • We are still modeling BELONGING by the way we act toward others in daily life.  In this stage, we not only expect our children to model our behaviors that include and help people, but we hope to start to be able to see this action on their own.
  • We still are going to church and celebrating the church seasons, the Eucharist, the feast and fast days, and we see now the stories in the Bible as a deeper level of encouragement in our own walk for loving ourselves, each other, and the Earth.
  • As older children question things, we talk about how we use our intellect and experience as part of our experience with God.  Faith, tradition, reasoning, and experience are all part of being an Episcopalian.
  • We get our older children to participate – older children can acolyte, participate in Children’s Choir and the Royal School of Church Music Program, help with the nursery, attend Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and summer camps.  We help and encourage relationships with the other children in the parish. My parish is pretty large, about 800 families, and I think there are probably close to 20 schools or more represented, so school attendance isn’t the deciding factor for friendship in our parish.
  • We still use the Book of Common Prayer in daily and weekly life.
  • We still spend lots of time in nature. Some at this stage will chosee to look for Episcopal summer camps – they are all over and provide incredible immersive experiences into nature and closeness to God.
  • We develop more faith by participating in the life of the church.  We get involved with causes, with the classes and offering of the church, and if what we want is not there, we step up as parents and get involved.
  • We start learning the stories of the heroes of our faith – the people who made the Anglican faith what it is
  • My little mini-rant about Heroes of the Faith:  King Henry doesn’t count.  I shudder actually when people talk about that as if they don’t know any of the real ways and real heroes that made this strand of Western Christianity different than anything else.  Anglicanism was different than anything else because of where it HAPPENED –  The church was aligned with many Celtic beliefs and moved toward the customs and beliefs of the Western church with the Synod of Whitby, but in many ways still retains a good deal in common with its Celtic beginnings and with the church before the split of the Reformation.  So in a way, it was and still is its own thing!  If you want to debate me about King Henry, I will just delete your comment because it is a source of contention to me that people don’t know more about either their own denomination or others can’t be bothered to find out and just comment on things they haven’t researched.  #sorrynotsorry
  • Heroes from the Holy Bible, and yes, the Feast Days of Saints that we celebrate (and the idea that we can all be Saints!  A little different concept in the Anglican Communion) (the Saints this month in June have varied from St. Columba to St. Ephrem of Syria to St. Enjegahbowh to Sahu Sundar Singh of India), and then some of the traditional heroes: Bede the Venerable, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Becket, John Wycliffe, Thomas Cranmer, John Jewel, Richard Hooker, Samual Crowther, Janauni Luwum, Archbishop Tutu,  and more.
  • Toward the end of this period, I like to talk plainly about the 5 Marks of Mission of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., which are:
  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
  • We can start to talk to older children (7th and 8th grade) about the history of the church as involved in the Social Gospel period of history, our role in the Civil Rights Movement, our role in equality for LBGTQ people, and our positions on civil rights,  the environment,  and more.

Ages 14-21  We walk the talk by publicly professing our faith and Baptismal Vows, not only in confirmation, but in striving for justice for all people, for loving all people by trying to see Christ in them, and for standing up for the dignity of all human beings.  We profess our faith by walking in love.  

  • At this point,  teens get involved in running the life of the church – acolyting, helping at Vacation Bible School or summer camps or with the smaller children’s choir.
  • Teens start to think about their faith and if they want to publicly profess in Confirmation with hands laid on by the Bishop if they believe in The Apostles’ Creed (the Nicene Creed is said weekly, but the Apostles’ Creed is used at Baptism and Confirmation), if they believe and will continue in teaching what the apostles began, will persevere, will proclaim the LOVE of God in Christ to the world, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to strive for justice and peace among all people and to  respect the dignity of every human being and be a part of the belonging that is the Episcopalian Church.
  • They can use their Book of Common Prayer and the resources of the church to have an active prayer life.
  • We help our teen investigate the resources of the Episcopal Church, so they can make an impact in the world. These resources include:

The Episcopal News Service

The Episcopal Public Policy Network

Episcopal Climate News  and  Green Anglicans

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship

Episcopalians Against Gun Violence  and  Episcopalians Against Human Trafficking

Episcopalian Migration Ministries

Episcopal Intercultural Network

  • Some teenagers will choose to attend an Episcopalian college.  The Episcopal Church has the highest number of people with graduate and post-graduate degrees per capita than any other denomination in the United States and has a strong system of colleges, both regular and historically black colleges and universities.
  • After Confirmation, which varies from parish to parish in what grade it occurs (in our parish it is tenth grade), the teenager is considered an adult and equal in the church. The last few years of high school and headed into the twenties are good times to deepen spiritual formation, become involved in and make good decisions based around what we believe as part of the Episcopal Church of the United States and part of the Anglican Communion.  Some will continue into college deepening their faith through Campus and Young Adult Ministries and some will even branch out after college to do things like Episcopal Service Corps or  partake in other ways to serve others.

Hope that helps,



Friendships: Part Three: Ages 14-15

This is the last part of our series on friendships from ages ten to fifteen.  Today, we are jumping into looking at the fourteen-year-old ( which is often a much better time than being thirteen and hiding in one’s room) and the fifteen-year old.

It can be really important to some fourteen-year-olds to really belong to a group, but some may need help untangling and being untangled from a group.  This is the age where the girls especially really want to fit in to some elusive and sometimes exclusive group.  She may pick friends or even a best friend that she has no shared interests with, and not a lot of connection even,  but just feels that person is  for whatever reason now her good friend.  She may try to join into a group or clique just to be a part of it without really having a great connection to those people.  Criticism or discussion of different friends begins in earnest this year, noticing the differences or social problems of varying friends or people at school. However, fourteen-year-olds are generally better about talking about things that have gone badly between them and a friend and trying to restore the friendship rather than the thirteen-year-old who just lets the friendship drift away.

Boys often have a bit of any easier time. They still may hang around in a gang; they may or may not have a “best” friend and they may or may not care at all about that.  They do choose friends that they like rather than shared activities.  Often they still hang out with neighborhood friends, whereas girls may be done with that around this age.   Some fourteen-year-old boys still don’t have many friends, or only one friend they really like, and that is certainly okay as well.

What  you can do to help: Girls in particular often want to feel “accepted”  and hence start looking to their own place to belong away from their family.  I think based on the family as the first and most important unit of socialization, it could be important to let teenagers know that  siblings can be close friends, and that the family is such an important thing outside of friendship.

Talk about cliques and groups.  Talk about conflict mediation and conflict resolution.  Talk about how being an individual, and about diversifying friends and encouraging friendships outside of the clique with a different group.  Talk about bullying and social exclusion if you think that is going on, and how and why to be an includer if your child has a temperament that lends itself to that.  This article talks about dealing with cliques   and this article has 8 tips for dealing wtih cliques.

Fifteen-year-olds often have less emphasis on cliques, although many are still influenced by their friends in regards to clothing choice, music, etc.  Some fifteen-year-olds (and this is where your boundaries as parents are important!) may be pairing off into romantic relationships that are occupying more of their time than their friends.  A deeper capacity for caring and sharing may exist than before. Mature friends can accept differences between one another and can maintain closeness despite separation or time. They also can juggle several close friends and no one feels threated by that. I feel this often comes AFTER the fifteen/sixteen change.   Right before this change, I think there can often be a big shake-up in friends – teachers have noticed that for years the fifteen year old year (what is typically sophomore year in American high schools), often sees their students have a big change in friends.    This can also be a time of feeling restless and lonely and depressed, which may also change after the fifteen/sixteen year change is complete.

Your fifteen-year-old may be more likely to seek out advice from friends than from you, the parent.  Therefore, part of dealing with these friendships and even romanatic relationships outside of the family is putting a priority on the family.  Family days, family traditions, are all still very, very important.  It is a source of stability that many teens can’t even really put into words, but do still value.

What you can do:   Hopefully you have many talks with your children by this point as to how to be a friend, how to mediate conflict, how to apologize, how to recognize bullying or aggression and how to cope with stresses.   You are really preparing them for what comes after this fifteen/sixteen year change and as they become more and more independent and perhaps bring less to you regarding interpersonal conflicts.   Junior and senior years of high school are really the young adult phase where you are letting go, being there,  giving that right amount of space where guidance exists.