Dear Abby Responds to an Isolated Homeschooler

Here is an installment in Dear Abby column from last week:

DEAR ABBY: I’m a 16-year-old girl. I am home-schooled with one friend. I’m lonely, sad, mad and depressed. I have always wanted to go to a real school, but it’s not an option for me. My parents are against it.

I am always lonely. I don’t know where to turn. I want to meet new people, but I don’t know how, or if my parents will let me do new things. I have been cutting myself for more than a year and have lost all motivation to do my schoolwork. I feel lost. Please help me. — SAD, MAD AND DEPRESSED IN BOZEMAN, MONT.

DEAR SAD, MAD AND DEPRESSED: Most parents who home-school make sure their children are exposed to activities within the community to ensure they engage with people of all ages. They participate in scouting, 4-H, sports, field trips, etc.

That you cut yourself to distract yourself from the pain of your isolation is serious. If you have a family doctor, please bring this up with him or her so you can receive the help you need to quit.

I’m sure your parents love you and want to protect you, but they appear to be doing it too diligently. At 16, you should be learning to interact with others your age. If you have a relative you trust or feel close to, I’m urging you to talk to that person about this. Perhaps your parents will accept the message from another adult.

What do you think? How did Dear Abby do at answering? What would you add?

There is one thing that sticks out at me: Why did Dear Abby have to start by saying that most homeschool parents make sure their children participate in a variety of activities? Clearly, the writer’s parents don’t, or at least don’t have her participate in enough activities to satisfy her need for a social life. So why start with this statement? I guess I feel like it would be like starting the response to a letter from an abused wife with “Most husbands don’t hit their wives or threaten to take away their wives’ credit cards. Most husbands are kind, gentle, and caring.” Who would do that? No one! So why do it here?

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