I have a 15 yo son who is a “late bloomer”, both physically and psychologically. He’s normal, just on the slow side, more of a follower than a leader, and very influenced by what his peers suggest. He knows he’s a late bloomer and looks to them for cues as to how to behave. We homeschooled him until 7th grade, then he went to middle school at our parish school, and continued on there as a freshman, where he is now. The school is very small (K-12, about 20 students per grade). He made friends with the boys in his class pretty easily. They come from well-to-do, well-respected families and aren’t into anything illegal, but I’m uncomfortable with the level of vulgar speech they use and the joking around they do about women’s bodies, racial stereotypes, that kind of thing. They go to Mass on Sundays but are not otherwise involved in their faith. They also are not very serious about academics: they pull mostly B’s and C’s and spend a lot of unsupervised time playing online video games. The games aren’t sexually graphic or overly violent- but they spend a **lot **of time on them and are not involved in any extracurricular activities, sports (the school is so small it doesn’t offer many), music, etc. My son hangs out with these kids at school but rarely interacts with them after school or on weekends, in part because we don’t allow him to spend as much time gaming so he’s not on the same “level” as they are. I hear third-hand of lots of things these other boys do together without my son, but I don’t think he’s aware of that.
The school itself is good, both academically and spiritually. The school chaplain is a devout and faithful man who is involved as much as he can be (which isn’t that much because of his duties at the parish as well as another parish down the road). Many of the teachers are wonderful and care about the students’ souls as well as their minds. My husband and I are growing increasingly worried about our son’s increasing dependence on these other boys, though: his desire to be like them, to benchmark normal as what they are doing. He is starting to adopt some of their mannerisms and jokes (as evidenced by text messages I’ve seen). He’s not interested in participating in any extracurriculars at school because none of his friends are. He’s still interested in his own hobbies for the most part (running, trumpet, outdoorsy stuff) but doesn’t talk about them much with his friends because they’re not interested and the conversation kind of … dies. Because of the very small size of the school, it is likely he will be with these same boys in almost all of his classes until graduation.
My husband wants to pull him out of the school for 10th-12th and homeschool him again. There is a very active Catholic homeschool co-op community in our town with some great families we know so he would not be isolated. My husband hopes he would make some new friends who would be more… inspiring? Bring him up rather than pull him down? Friends with whom he could share something positive. Our son does NOT like the idea. He has admitted that although he much prefers the homeschool lifestyle (the classes he’d take and the freedom of time he would have to pursue other interests), he doesn’t want to homeschool again solely because he doesn’t want to leave his friends. Which, of course, is most of the reason my husband wants to pull him out of school.
To be fair, DS is a pretty compliant kid and he wouldn’t pitch a rebellious fit over leaving his school, but he would be pretty upset about it. Not sure how long that would last and how much it would affect his learning. DH thinks he’s too peer-influenced and we need to pull him back and hold him close while we still can. Is he being over protective?