friends, friendship, homeschooling

When your Homeschooled Children Struggle to make Friends

 

friendship, homeschooling

Relationships are hard ya’ll. I’m not sure when we ladies outgrow the insecurities of trying to fit in and find our own place in this world, but I hope that time is growing near.  I have many great friends in my life but there are still times when I feel like I am back in junior high and trying to get one of the “cool” kids to like me. Oh’ the futility of it all! But now that I’m traversing that stage with my own daughter I am reliving those painful memories all over again.

Until recently, my oldest child has struggled to connect with other girls her age. For years I watched my introverted daughter sit in the back of groups or hang out with younger kids when we were at group events. I spent months praying that the Lord would bring sweet girls into her life that she would connect with. Because she is an introvert making friends is harder for her. I know other mom hearts can relate to me when I tell you how agonizing it is to watch your child struggle with feeling left out and alone. The nature of homeschooling adds an extra challenge to friend making.

It was after the end of one particular rough day for my daughter at our co-op, she was quiet all the way home and when I had the chance to ask her what was bothering her, tears overflowed as she shared how lonely she was throughout the day, and how much she wanted just one friend. My heart broke for her. 

Since that day I have had many conversations with other homeschooling parents whose children have the same struggles. In general I have found that homeschooling kids are friendly and inclusive, but sometimes it’s hard to move past the hello, into deeper relationships. As with most things in life, making friends requires some intentionality. I knew that if we wanted something to change, I was going to have to make an effort to bring more people into our lives.

friendship, homeschooling

  If you have a child that has also struggled to make friends I hope that some of the things I tried would be of encouragement to you.

1.       Take notice of other families with kids similar in ages to our children. This helps because if you are going to be spending time with them as a family, it would be nice if more than one of your children had a playmate.

2.       For me it was important to connect with other homeschool families, sometimes our children feel like they are the only ones living life like us, I wanted them to have other children they could relate to in that area. Our homeschool co-op was the natural place to begin looking for like- minded families, but I also looked for other homeschoolers while on field trips, at the library, the park, or running errands during the day.

3.       Call or message them, ask them to meet you at the park, or the zoo the next time you go, pick somewhere neutral so that there is no pressure to entertain or {eeek} clean your house.

4.       Get a group of moms together and go out to coffee or dinner. When we are making an effort to get to know other ladies, it shows our kids that relationships are important. It also helps other moms feel more comfortable in allowing their children to spend time with yours.

5.       Allow your child to invite a friend over for the afternoon. I always talk to my kids before we have company about the kinds of things they can do while their friends are visiting. I personally hate awkward situations, and do everything within my power to avoid them so the last thing I would want is to have them just sitting around staring at each other. It’s good to have a plan. This also teaches them how to be a good host.

6.       Talk to your kids often about what it means to be a good friend. Teach them etiquette with things like being a good listener, asking questions, complimenting, being sincere and honest, sharing, sometimes playing games that they don’t want to play, (this is really hard for one of mine) These are conversations we have before and after almost every playdate. It’s our job to teach and model for them how to be a good friend!

7.       If you have older children let them call or text their friends. My kids love to facetime their friends. I laugh every time I walk by them talking face to face. I feel so old! But it does take me back to the hours I spent on the phone with my girlfriends when I was a teenager. I do loosely monitor these conversations because I haven’t forgotten what it was like to be that age!

8.       Friendships take time to cultivate. If it’s important for you and your children that they have friends in their lives, make time. I am so guilty of letting busyness get in the way of my own friendships, but we need them! Look for opportunities to get together. Have game days, movie nights, go shopping or host a bible study or book club.   

9.       Say Yes. When others invite you or your children somewhere, find a way to make it happen as often as possible. If they thought enough to invite you, they want to get to know you.

10.   Pray. If you want friends in your children’s lives, trust God to provide. Pray for the kind of friends that would spur them on in their faith and that would not lead them astray.

Maybe you have a child that is great at making friends, if so encourage him or her to reach out to those around them that might be lonely. Sometimes introverted children appear to be unfriendly, when really they are just shy.

Click here to download 5 scriptures to pray over your children’s friendships.

10 Ways to help your children make friends

1 thought on “When your Homeschooled Children Struggle to make Friends”

  1. I totally agree! It can be so hard. My husband and I were talking about how it was pretty easy for his family to get to know other families through school functions when he was a kid. They automatically see each other often at school events. The kids see each other almost every day in school! Homeschooling adds that extra challenge but also allows us to be more selective in choosing Christian families. Its easy for me to give up on that but this was encouraging to keep trying.

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