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I would hit the used market, particularly CL. You can get a really nice 5 yr old carbon HT for around 1k used, and don’t be afraid to haggle. That’s what I did when I was starting out, so I can unload it easy without losing much money if its not for me.
And to get your kids going, let them ride with a local club or their HS mtb team. Talk to the coach/teacher adviser, I’m pretty sure they’d be happy to let them in on their practice rides. Plus kids love riding with other kids. That’s what I did with my son.