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Sarah1up
03-05-2012, 06:32 AM
I'm just needing some advice on finding groups for our family. We moved to a new state about a year ago and I haven't found any friends not only for my kids but for me, either. I'm not exactly a social butterfly, but I have been trying. Every group I've tried out hasn't been right for us. I don't think I'm being too picky, most homeschool groups here are very religious so that cuts out most of them for us in the first place. I've only found two other groups, one for natural families (which I guess we aren't) and the other for unschoolers (we aren't either). It's starting to depress me and make me question the decision to homeschool. My son is almost 5 and loves friends. I don't feel like at this point he is lacking in social interaction, going to the park is enough for him right now, but I am worried about myself more I suppose. I feel like my inablility to make friends is going to affect him as he gets older. This has really been eating at me lately and I've been considering going back to school to get EMT certification so I can get a job and get out of the house, but that completely takes away from any family time we would all have together and I can't stand the thought of that. I looked into the Montessori school here, which is the only school I would send my kids to... and at $900 a month, it really isn't in the cards for us. I feel like I have compounded lots of problems in to one big mess and I really don't know what to do. Thank you all in advance for throwing some advice my way. ==Sarah==

hockeymom
03-05-2012, 07:04 AM
I'm sorry you are having a tough time making connections. I've btdt many times, and I've found that it takes at least 2 or 3 years after moving to really start meeting people. Give it time. :)

I get the impression from your post that a couple different things are going on that are maybe getting jumbled? One is a social need--for both your son and for you--and the other is homeschooling. I guess if you hang out here long enough, you'll see that the dreaded S word is rarely a problem for homeschoolers, although you do need to be willing sometimes to put yourself out there (which it sounds like you are doing an awesome job of!).

I've found that kids need different social opportunities at different stages of their lives. At 5, it sound like your son is pretty content hanging out with his mama and playing at the park. I'd just keep doing what your doing, trying various groups (I'm curious--what is a "natural family"?), exploring your new community and so forth. It takes time to find out about a community's resources--classes, sports and so forth, many of which can only be accessible by word of mouth (that's been my experience any way). By the time your son is hankering for more kids to hang out with, it's quite likely you'll feel better tapped in to what your town has to offer.

Does your community have a rec center? Museums that offer classes for kids (art, science, nature, history)? Have you inquired at the library? They might offer kid programs, or know of homeschool groups in your area.

HTH!

crunchynerd
03-05-2012, 09:12 AM
Hi Sarah!

I could write a book on my failures to connect to people where I live. I have a couple of homeschooling moms I am friends with, more or less, and those took years to finally luck into, though I still notice that they don't meet me halfway... I still go to considerably more trouble to be friends with them, than they do with me, and occasionally I just get sick of it.

If you start with library groups and the local Y or indoor playplace, you can get some "mommy cards" to hand out, or swap emails with any likely prospects. Then like cold canvassing sales, you can expect 1 good result from 10 attempts. Of those good results, maybe 1 in 10 will eventually become a friend rather than a bare acquaintance. If you go into it expecting to have to send off a certain number of emails or make a certain number of calls each week, and expect that the majority will be dead ends, it keeps you from feeling so rejected. It's just a numbers game. It took me years to find two homeschooler friends, once I realized that non-homeschooler mommy friendships were evaporating around me once their kids were in school and they were back at work. My kids get to build snowforts and bike-ride with neighbor kids, which helps, even though those kids go to school and are occasionally crappy about my kids being homeschoolers. If you have neighbor kids your kids can play with, it's a tremendous relief because then it doesn't require planning, travel, and not being able to do anything at home like cooking or cleaning, while they play.

One thing that has sustained me (aside from having a couple of neighbor kids my kids can build snowforts with and bike with in summer) is realizing that my daughter would not have things easier or better in public school. It seems there's a one-upmanship amongst school girls, to see who can snub whom, first. The first one to dismiss and snub everyone else, is the most powerful, and the one who actually comes up and asks another girl if she'd like to play, is the weak one, who will then be snubbed by everyone. In public school, my daughter would have to either learn to be like them (*vomit*) or else be constantly marginalized by them.

So, much as homeschooling has been a hard row to hoe socially, schooling would be far worse. Even a friend of mine who is a homeschool mom, said she was one of the mean girls in school because it was the only way to be safe from being victimized.

Hang in there! There are more secular homeschoolers every year. That may not help if you are living in a Bible Belt area, but if you do, there have to be some other secular homeschoolers who are just as much in need of you, as you are of them.

Also, remember that when work and school provide a built-in social life, look back on your experiences of both, and ask yourself if the quality of those friendships, which tend to exist only at work and at school, and end abruptly as soon as grades or classes change or jobs or even job status in the same company changes, is what you would be happy with, as your only social life and your son's. Because alluring as it is to have a built-in social life, the reality is that those are friendships of convenience, and here today, gone tomorrow. Having that as the only model of friendship in life, isn't the greatest. Striving for something more than that, is hard and often unrewarding work, but worth trying for.

Good luck to you, and to us all.

dbmamaz
03-05-2012, 09:13 AM
But Hockey, to be fair, you never fit in as well socially in canada as you do now that you are in maine, right? South Carolina is a really hard place for anyone who isnt a southerner to ever fit in. I live in Richmond, VA, which is the state capital, but still seems to be more 'the capital of the south.' I've been here 9 years and i still dont feel like its home. I want to move north.

I have slowly made friends over time. It just took a lot longer here than it did other places. The 'natural parents' - they can be overwhelming with the 'i would never let my child have a plastic toy' ' i would never let my child wear a shirt with a character on it' etc, but they mellow a bit when they have a second child and the older one falls in love with a character. Still, most of the ones I know are very in to waldorf . . . last year, towards the end of our second year, someone started a video game club for homeschoolers. That is where we've met the most ppl.

have you considered starting something to try to find likeminded ppl?

good luck

hockeymom
03-05-2012, 09:36 AM
Yeah Cara, absolutely. Moving to a place that "fits me" culturally has made all the difference.

But I've moved around the country a lot--I wasn't referencing only that experience. Each time I've moved, I have found that it has taken considerable time for me to find my niche, or to find anyone at all to connect with. Some locations have been more successful than others, for sure. I fully sympathize with the OP. I'm not one who easily puts herself out there, by nature I'm quite shy and it takes a lot for me to initiate conversations and open up. But I've been forced to learn how; I think a lot of us here have. It sounds like the OP is doing a great job trying to find like minded people in her new community!

Interesting explanation of "natural parents"; I'd never heard that term. It brought to mind anti-adoption or something weird! Glad it isn't that! lol

findemerson
03-05-2012, 09:58 AM
I feel your pain. I live in the South and am surrounded by folks that just aren't me. It gets frustrating that my true friends live all over the world in different places as I met them living in big cities and traveling before I had children. I'm lucky that communication has advanced in this day and age and I can talk to them often and we visit when we can. Settling *sigh* here hasn't exactly yielded me what anyone would refer to as a social life.
I think crunchy has a point about friends of convenience and that really seems to be the case with the homeschoolers I associate with, thinking about it. It is convenient though due to the lifestyle I've chosen and it does seem like it will be for years and years, but I know that as the kids age--I'll associate with them less and less.
I really wish I had advice. I, too, have dreams about going back to work and traveling and living like I like I was but then back then I had dreams of how I would have kids, raise my family, etc; even though we didn't HS initially, it did make those "family" dreams come true by bringing us all closer together. I refer to those fantasies as my "Calgon-take me away" moments, :)
When Hockey mentioned that kids need different social outlets at different times in their lives---maybe that is just true for all of us. I certainly have outgrown my youth and what I consider fun--fun places to go, books to read, activities that I enjoy--they change over time. Age 7, age 13, age 17, age 21, age 25 and so on...I'm fully grown but still growing, yes? I'm sure when I am sixty and have grandchildren, my interests will further change, no? Although, I admit--I do have a few close friends that I speak to regularly that I have known since grade school and hope they are they are still my friends in old age. We are all as different as night and day but have a fondness and love and trust between us that is lasting.
I guess you could consider starting a new hobby--if you don't bowl, maybe you could try it (golf, tennis, same-same-whichever seems interesting). Look into book clubs, art/cooking/dance classes...volunteering can also be done in various ways. There is also the gym/yoga and things like this. The advantage is that when you meet someone doing something you enjoy-you already have something in common that is personal--your interest and not necessity-your HS'ing child. Even if you don't meet someone you'd spend all day with--at least you'd have a chance to get out and learn knew things and I think that makes a lot of people feel better, regardless of circumstance.
I do know that if you live near a military base---you might want to seek those folks out. They are from all over the country and not all of them are Christians & even the ones who are usually are the accepting, not judgmental types. Many homeschool, too and should have a local homeschool group that accepts all, regardless of belief. I know this from personal experience but I can't speak for every military community in the country, either--but it's worth a look.
~HTH

Airen
03-05-2012, 10:49 AM
I'm with Cara. Moving to the South might be harder than being Southern and moving North. I say that as a Southerner... besides the Bible thumping, there's a lot of "we are SOUTHERNERS!! oh... you're not?" I didn't homeschool down there, but I saw it a lot. I can easily see it becoming even more clique-y in homeschooling.

It sounds like you like in a pretty populated area. I don't have anything new to add... starting your own group and the Y were my thoughts, too. Just wanted to offer support

Sarah1up
03-05-2012, 11:56 AM
Thank you all so much. You got more out of my post than I even realized I put. I am from Missouri and it is hard being in South Carolina, but not a "local". Cara was right about the natural families (Hockeymom- That was funny about anti-adoption, though.) I lean towards that whole mindset, but am not nearly enough for a group of likeminded people. They were all very into attachment parenting and when they found out I didn't breastfeed my first son and I'm just trying to make it to a year for my second... I pretty well got the cold shoulder at that point. I didn't have a problem with their choices, they seemed to have a problem with mine. We are in Charleston, but most of the stuff around here is geared toward touism. The location we are in is close to my husbands work, but not to things like the YMCA. We do have a pass to the Childrens Museum and I'm looking into karate lessons. Hockeymom is right though, Jet is fine with trips to the park and museum for now. I'm the one feeling lonely and like I'm never going to find friends. I really thought there was something wrong with me for not having some kind of social network already, which led me to think that I would never find friends here... and of course that led me to think I am never going to have friends and my much more social than me son will suffer. I'm not actually worried about the whole social aspect of homeschooling, I guess it was a downward spiral of worry. Thank you all for the ideas. I actually hadn't really thought of starting a group, maybe on meetup. My baby is 9 months old now and I'm starting to feel a sense of having more time to do something. I will definately look into some of the meetup groups around and put myself out there a bit. I think I was worrying a bit too much about finding homeschool friends when maybe I should just start with just friends (thanks Findemerson). Thank you all again, I feel so much better knowing I'm not the only one who's been through this and it will get better. :)

baker
03-05-2012, 12:28 PM
I feel you pain! I live in the Deep South and am from California! To add insult to injury, we are older parents. All of my kid's friends parents are considerably younger, very religious and surrounded by their family. I am more of a "free-range" parent, and none of these families have the same philosophy. They all use packaged, Christian curriculum and I am eclectic (and secular). Honestly, I seem so worldly compared to most of these people!
We do belong to a co-op. It is Christian, but no statement of faith was required. I consider myself Christian, just don't buy into creationism (especially when taught as science). I dread co-op each week (it is later today) because I have nothing to say to any of the moms. BUT, my kids enjoy it and they have several friends who go. My kids have friends that attend ps (and a few from the private school they attended), but none of those parents understand or appreciate why we homeschool. The ps parents are lock-step in the belief that our schools are so good (data disproves this in a BIG way).

Some days I feel really, really lonely. But I know I am doing what is right for the kids.

lakshmi
03-05-2012, 02:03 PM
Some of it for me is to expect that there is no one like me and to accept people for what they have to give. Sometimes that isn't much. I find that I have no friends. But also many friends.

While I do not find anyone who thinks like me here I do find nice people who I can interact with regularly. BUT... for me, it is sad for my girls who have no atheist children around them. Every single kid we know is a believer in something. S

So that is what I need to find for them. It isn't as important for me at this point. I do live in the same town I went to elementary through highschool so i "know" a LOT of people. I don't go to the grocery without seeing someone that I can chat a bit. It is sort of annoying, but I secretly I love it. Just wish it was a little groovier here.

SusanC
03-05-2012, 03:29 PM
I'm just needing some advice on finding groups for our family. We moved to a new state about a year ago and I haven't found any friends not only for my kids but for me, either. I'm not exactly a social butterfly, but I have been trying. Every group I've tried out hasn't been right for us. I don't think I'm being too picky, most homeschool groups here are very religious so that cuts out most of them for us in the first place. I've only found two other groups, one for natural families (which I guess we aren't) and the other for unschoolers (we aren't either). It's starting to depress me and make me question the decision to homeschool. My son is almost 5 and loves friends. I don't feel like at this point he is lacking in social interaction, going to the park is enough for him right now, but I am worried about myself more I suppose. I feel like my inablility to make friends is going to affect him as he gets older. This has really been eating at me lately and I've been considering going back to school to get EMT certification so I can get a job and get out of the house, but that completely takes away from any family time we would all have together and I can't stand the thought of that. I looked into the Montessori school here, which is the only school I would send my kids to... and at $900 a month, it really isn't in the cards for us. I feel like I have compounded lots of problems in to one big mess and I really don't know what to do. Thank you all in advance for throwing some advice my way. ==Sarah==

Moving is hard! I made some acquaintances at the library (that was where I met my first, in-person homeschooler who could direct me to the elusive group in the area). Keep your son in activities that he likes. I met a couple of moms with kids the same age, and one good friend (who will be moving this summer :p) just standing on the sidelines week after week. Chances are they won't be homeschooling moms, but that is OK. Sometimes even better, because there are different expectations. Of course, it can also be complicated maintaining a connection with non-homeschoolers. I also met another friend who homeschools when she posted to the local group looking for another boy the age of her son to set up a playdate with. This is been interesting because I don't know that she and I would have struck up a friendship without this excuse. So that might be something else to try - set it up without an expectation of follow-on dates and see where it goes.

I feel for your situation. Good luck!

skrink
03-05-2012, 06:25 PM
We have much the same difficulties. We're not in the South, but we're in a very tight-knit, very conservative midwestern town and we stick out like sore thumbs. The one group I found that is anything other than the right-wing norm? They're I guess what you'd call natural parents, very crunchy folks. And that's just fine, until the talk turns (as it ALWAYS does) to food. "Did you see what she's feeding her kids????" They're waaaaay paranoid, and very judge-y, about food and it really does get old. I feel more comfortable there than anywhere else but I'm afraid I'm eventually going to get outed for not being a purist, and that will be that. Sigh.

It's easy to worry this issue to death, but you need to just take it day by day. Projecting too far into the future (and why is it we never predict that things will be just fine, or, gasp, *fantastic*?) tends to lead to nothing but heartache. Is your son happy today?

crkirby
03-05-2012, 07:43 PM
We have tons of religious homeschool groups around us, and while I personally could along with them (I tend to just ignore/gloss over alot of stuff) it's really confusing for my kids. So, I've been on a search for a more non-religious group close to me, at the very least, a group that doesn't have religion at the core.

As of right now, my 5 yo is fine with her playtime at the gym & with her big sister. My 8yo has a fun time in Girl Scouts (my husband is the troop leader, and all the parents agreed at the beginning to make it as "non-religious" as they can).

BethAnne
03-06-2012, 06:16 AM
I suggest Tiger Cubs for you son. I found that the friends I made were while my children were growing. I moved to a new town when the last one was near the end of school so I am now without local contacts/friends.

Engage into the local library children's programs and you will be able to meet parents of children who value education. Sign up for T ball this summer and join in on the parks and recreations summer programs. Go to the public pool and meet up with other moms who are home with their kiddos during the day.

It is not important that he has other homeschool friends but just friends. It is ok if his friends occur because you make friends with a mom first.

Also join the YMCA camp programs for the summer and he will make friends there too.