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Question: We are having difficulty finding safe social activities for our older children. We live in a rural area with few Catholic homeschooling families. Our small parish has no activities for children (youth group, etc.). We don't have any immediate family in the area for much support. Many of the secular activities (sports, etc.) have not provided good friendships that support our homeschooling vocation. We feel that God has called us to this area, but are feeling very isolated in our vocation. As our children get older we see a need to support what we're doing with good Catholic friendships that are living this joyful, but challenging journey. Any suggestions would be most helpful.

Dear Mom,

I too live in a very rural area of the country. Our parish is quite small and currently we do not have a youth group. I can understand your concerns with regard to older children. It is important to provide and to encourage outside activities for young people. Remember that this is a learning experience for young people as well as an opportunity for them to explore what appeals to them as far as friendships etc.

We have really found that 4-H is a wonderful activity for our family. Though we live in a rural area we do not have a farm. However this is not at all necessary for you and your family to have an enriching and fulfilling experience with 4-H. One of the greatest assets that I have found with 4-H is the lack of school to school competition. I like that the competition is based upon the group's county, etc. Young people can come together and share interests etc. without regard to the particular schools they may attend. I would encourage you to look into 4-H and see what is available in your county.

Another avenue for young people is work with local museums. Though your youngsters are still young they may find great opportunities at different museums as volunteers, etc. Many homeschooled youngsters are a fabulous asset for local museums for many of the same reasons that make homeschooled youngsters enjoyable to be around.

Continue to pray for opportunities for your youngsters. The Lord will send those opportunities your way. I know that He will. When I first began homeschooling my children did not have any friends that were Catholic. That is hard to believe isn't it? Yet now they have a large circle of friends both Catholic and non-Catholic whose company and friendship they enjoy.

Raise your children to be bright, confident and caring young people and they will have more opportunities than you can imagine. Make sure they are busy with activities that are stimulating and uplifting. Give your youngsters a good sense of self worth and healthy confidence to ensure that they are eager and willing to meet new people and discern the worth of friendships along the way.

Let us pray together a Hail Mary for all those young people that will be heading off to college this upcoming Fall. Lord, we ask that You guide and protect them each step of the way. Allow that they go slowly and with caution into new experiences, discerning along the way those situations that are best left alone. St. Ann pray for us.

Sending out a prayer,

Rita Munn

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