View Full Version : Problem with Co-ops

01-24-2014, 08:18 PM
Have been Homeschooling for a couple of months now and looking for co-ops so that our kids can socialize with other kids around their age. Being a hs dad wasnt something I thought was going to be easy but everywhere I look there seems to be next to no dads doing this and EVERYTHING is so momcentric its insane. just blowing steam right now but if anyone has any suggestions I'd be open to them.:mad:

01-25-2014, 01:50 AM
Have you considered starting your own co-op? What about a meetup.com group for dads who HS? Co-ops aren't the only options for socializing...there's scouts, 4H, sports, dance, swimming, a DIY group, etc.

FWIW, blow away all the steam you want. I get it. I'm a mom, but much older than the usual moms in my daughter's age group. I don't fit with the Vera Bradley-toting moms either. :p

01-25-2014, 11:00 AM
I also can't offer too much advice to a homeschooling father, but want to second what Carolyn said - scouts and 4H are probably a better option than co-ops.

The co-op I go to does have some pretty cool moms. However, the last co-op gathering I went to had 5 moms (including me) and there were only 2 of us without an infant strapped on and I was the only one that wasn't hs-ing for religious reasons. But my son is an only child and very social, so we go and I just get through it and add to conversations when I can. It is hard to imagine what a hs-ing father would do in this situation.

If I could find one, I'd crash a homeschooling dad's group just to get some adult conversation that didn't involve babies….

01-25-2014, 11:17 AM
Yeah, homeschool co-ops are often a mess on a number of levels.

The homeschool or SAHD's I've known (we have one in our small co-op) seem to have a sense of humor about having been in the "Mommy and Me" classes and things like that. I hope you can find that too, as I think most of it is thoughtless as opposed to prejudicial. Not that that should excuse it, just that it's not pointed, I hope.

01-25-2014, 12:08 PM
I never really did any coops. I go to park days - where my best friend was a homeschool dad until he moved out of state and put his kids back in school. He did have to put up with a lot of birth talk, though. There were some dads that helped out with the homeschool lego team . . . there's a dad taking his kids to the homeschool martial arts class . . but yeah, there arent many. and the bigger coops are often run by very conservative people who believe the only thing god approves of is a working man and a submissive wife . . .

01-25-2014, 03:21 PM
We were lucky, we had a lot of really involved dads in our group. Even when we didn't, we always welcomed the dads. The moms may not realize that they are momcentric, actually.
I was the facilitator for our homeschool group and I was always willing to welcome a little bit of testosterone to the estrogen mix. :p We had about 5 dads that regularly taught classes each semester. Maybe it just takes that one showing up regularly for the rest to realize that DAD being there is ok.
I would second doing something like scouts though. There are definitely more men involved in boy scouts (not so much girl scouts), especially when they are at the boy scout level (and not cub scout level).
Some of it though, you are going to have to realize that you are a bit of a trailblazer. ;)

01-25-2014, 06:31 PM
I'm sorry to hear it. I don't belong to a co-op, but I do see a few dads showing up at our local homeschool events. In some cases the parents both work part-time or different hours so they split the home-schooling. I am good friends with a SAHD (our kids adore each other), but we connect in a nerdy/geeky sort of way. Our homeschool group is quite down-to-earth, so I don't think the "momcentric" thing happens to quite the same extent that you're suffering with.

01-25-2014, 08:52 PM
Off of meetup.com I did find a 4H club meeting next friday that my girls seem to be interested in checking out. Off of that same board I found another local homeschool dad who I think has rsvped to the event so that is cool.

01-25-2014, 09:12 PM
It's rare that we have a dad come to our homeschool group park days, but they're welcome. It is not a co-op though. We do have a few dads showing up at field trips from time to time though. It's never been an issue. That being said, make sure you're speaking up. If you join another group, tell the person who leads it (or a friend who is in it), that you didn't have luck with your other group due to not being a mom. That will let those people know to make sure to include you. Though I wouldn't purposely leave a dad out, I might not realize I wasn't chatting it up with him as much as the moms. But if I knew he was concerned about it, then I'd make sure to make more of an effort.

01-25-2014, 10:59 PM
I wonder if they're being genuinely unfriendly and weird because these might be Christian groups with ideas about gender roles and/or boundaries between men and women...? That would be so horrible though.

01-25-2014, 11:12 PM
It could still be awkward if it were all women or all men. At ballet class I don't sit with any of the other mothers. I actually had one come and ask if I could see the class from where I stood.
"oh." she said. " so, that's why you stand here."

Guess its been a topic? LOL now that was awkward.

01-30-2014, 09:34 PM
I hear you Ryan.

In my experience this isn't limited to co-ops. Conventions, support groups and even park days are commonly unbalanced by gender.

My experience is that there's a huge gender role bias. But there's also significant embarrassment. Topics frequently turn to pregnancy, breastfeeding or menstruation - apparently those are trade secrets. :)
It doesn't help that the majority of homeschoolers are still ultra religious. But there are a number of bad social habits left over from Jr. High as well, ranging from cliques to gender segregation and shyness.

I make a point to be open, accepting and initiate interactions. It's difficult as an introvert, but it beats group shopping.
If people still don't want to talk, that's fine. If it's everyone, so be it and I find another venue.
One thing I'm considering is using Meetup.com to start my own group. There's a small fee to start groups, but it's less than a fast food meal.

Whereabouts do you live?
I'm in Denver, CO.

02-03-2014, 11:26 AM
I'm just outside of Charlotte, NC. We went to our first 4H club meeting last friday and there were a couple of dads there. Some of the moms were "clickish" but several other of the moms and the other dads came up to us and welcomed us to the club. Several had questions like how did I end up as the dad doing the homeschooling and things like that. It was fun and my girls had a great time.

02-03-2014, 06:42 PM
We have a homeschool dad in our group and he's one of the homeschooler's I'v known the longest! He's had similar issues and hates going to park days because the homeschool parents sitting at the park never realize he's a homeschool dad and just assume he's some dad at the park with his kids. At this point he calls himself the mom since his wife works and he takes care of everything at home. The group of kids that come to my house for science are pretty much our core group and we all have activities that overlap. 4H is usually a very open group and yes, you'l find more dads there but keep trying with the homeschool group, you just may have to introduce yourself over and over til it starts to sink in to these people that you are a homeschooler too. Are you new to homeschooling or just this area? group? You might write down questions you have and ask people those at the next meeting just to get the talking started. But yeah, you have it tough, secular and dad. If you have a particular speciality (art, science, music) you might offer a class. The dad in our group did a sculpting class and the kids loved it. Might help break the ice.

02-04-2014, 11:26 AM
I might could do a cooking class, or small engine repair

02-04-2014, 02:23 PM
Co-ops usually don't work well for us either. What does work are the homeschooling activities put on by some of the park districts and other facilities here. We are fortunate to live in an area where these options are available. Most of them were started by a group of homeschoolers who got the ball rolling with the facility, but then the programs were listed in the catalogs and open to anyone who wants to sign up. They are run by facility staff, not by homeschooling parents. This works out so much better.

02-04-2014, 04:25 PM
I'm trying to think of the various coops and homeschool specific classes we've been involved in, and I think dads have been decently represented. By far the biggest turnout for dads was in a monthly outdoor skills class--it was very waldorfy/unschooly and drew a pretty specific crowd. There have been other dads on at least most of the organized field trips we've been on (even through the Christian group). But in our area, we have a lot of seasonal and flexible work, and there are a lot of lobstermen and fishermen and so forth who do have different schedules than the usual 8-5, so maybe that accounts for some of it. I wish you luck out there, it can't be easy to find connections.

02-05-2014, 08:22 AM
I wish you were in my area!
There was a SAHD at a playplace once, when we both went regularly, and he was my conversational/someone to sit with lifeline! All too often with the women, once you run through the predictable gamut of children's names, ages, and details, there is simply nothing else I can say that is of interest to them, or vice versa. I know they have conversational topics because I can hear them in clusters, but for whatever reason, I have no common ground, and attempting to insert anything fails, usually. And yes, talking about children, birth, etc is a safe topic guaranteed to interest the other mother, but after that runs out, there just seems to be nothing past it.

But I think there's a reason and meaning to it all: the purpose of conversations, isn't necessarily to exchange information of interest!

In the case of the women whose groups I cannot fit in with, I found that their conversations had the purpose of establishing a pecking order and maintaining it, by subtle or not-so-subtle bragging, one-upmanship, jockeying for approval of the group, and displaying how much they fit in with the group. The actual transmission of information about something, was irrelevant. In fact, they could have accomplished the same ends, nonverbally, using gestures and vocal tones and facial expressions.

The purpose of conversations that I am generally interested in, by contrast, is the exchange of information, with room for questions, counterpoint, elaboration, and exploration of the topic.

To be fair, I think men also engage in relatively meaningless social noise that is primarily an exercise in social positioning within a group, to establish and maintain hegemony and hierarchy. Men do the conversation-as-vehicle-for-social-posturing thing, as much as women do, in certain circumstances. Maybe they appear more open to what I would call substantive conversation, because I, as a woman, am not a pack of other males to engage in social posturing with?

Maybe that's why I find I enjoy one-on-one conversation in general, better than group conversation? It might just be an unavoidable dynamic of groups of humans.

But whenever I meet an outlier in a group situation, someone else not in the thick of the group babble, I tend to approach him or her in hopes that they are also wishing for substantive exchange. It doesn't always work, but it's worth a try.

02-28-2014, 09:27 AM
I used to run a play group and a co-op preschool. We had a couple dads in the playgroup and 1 in the preschool. I never thought too much of it, I felt like he was totally welcomed. I didn't feel any weirdness from anyone about it. If anything it was slightly awkward that he got *extra* attention by a couple ladies...but it still wasn't a big deal.

Well once the kids got older, the groups disbanded and people went their own ways. I stayed friendly with a few people, but only really facebook style. And stayed friends with one lady because we had a lot in common and clicked. Recently I went to do a photshoot for the guy's family and his wife mentioned he was hurt he wasn't included in get togethers, but it was likely cause he was a man. And I was like "huh? what get togethers". And he echoed it. I told him hardly anyone from the group gets together anymore...

I feel like it was a perception he might have had being the odd man out...but we never felt that way about him.

I hope you find a good co-op home that suits you well. I wish my husband would be involved in the kids education!!

02-28-2014, 09:53 AM
Okay, first good luck with this. We went to visit our local co-op and they seemed pretty excited to see my husband and to find out he was willing to teach a class on computers. Everyone seemed really friendly on the visit but some people seemed rather put off as well. We are joining the co-op because they are teaching a class on trains which the boy would love. I have not checked into 4-H, but living in the middle of a large urban area is not conducive to chicken or pig showing. (My only experience with 4-H) My husband wants to be actively involved in these processes and I am not sure he understands how mom centric it is. I will now understand, thanks to your post, that he may need a bit more understanding from me as to what is going on.

02-28-2014, 01:38 PM
I have not checked into 4-H, but living in the middle of a large urban area is not conducive to chicken or pig showing. (My only experience with 4-H)

4H has changed a bit. :) Every group is going to be a bit different, of course, but ours isn't just about farm life, Hee Haw, and figuring out how to knock the caca off your overshoes. They are more about 'life skills' now: sewing, cooking, teaching, canning, machine repair, mechanics, carpentry, computer use & design, robotics, rocketry, etc. Even in an urban area, most of those skills would be useful. ;) We're starting DD in a WeDo (pre-Mindstorm) program w/our local 4H next month. They have more than chickens and bunnies.