View Full Version : What to do here

06-10-2010, 10:58 AM
Our local homeschooling group is very large, very evangelical. The powers that be seem to operate on the assumption that most, if not all, homeschoolers think like them. If you are not a legalistic Christian, you can't be a Christian at all. If you are not a Christian, then you are a danger to society. (Okay, maybe that last statement was a slight exaggeration.) If anyone has read any of my past posts, you know that there are certain things about me that classify me as very odd or highly suspect. I have stopped reading the emails from the group and do not attend any of their activities, mainly because I got tired of driving to them saying "don't talk about this book, or this curriculum or this movie or this beverage." We have found others who are like us and have formed a very nice group, but it is still small and the resources limited.

Which brings me to my oldest who is 13. Very nice, very quiet. She is volunteering this summer at the library. She takes fencing lessons and is about to start martial arts. She has 1 friend. I am not concerned about her calling only 1 person she knows a friend; I am concerned that she really only knows one person her age. She is beginning to recognize this and is making a concerted effort to be more outgoing. Our homeschooling group has only one other teenager, and that is her friend. I just found out the large group is doing a summer biology course at a local nature center. She loves science and would have adored this. But I didn't know about it because I have stopped reading the emails from the local group.

She is very mature and views most people her age as silly. She does not have a mission trip to talk about. She doesn't listen to Christian music. She really has little to discuss with the others her age in this group. By the same token, I know there are others in the group who are like us, but just keep quiet because they don't want to deal with "explaining." It probably doesn't help that her mother is somewhat vocal about her feelings on the local hs'ing community. I am all about meeting people from all walks of life, but I don't see the need to make her continually hang out with others who aren't like her just because.

Am I ruining my dd, forcing her to be a hermit?

06-10-2010, 11:10 AM
Am I ruining my dd, forcing her to be a hermit?

How does she feel about it? You say she is trying to be more outgoing and that is great. Does she feel like the social interaction she craves needs to come from the larger homeschooling group? Are there other volunteer activities in which she could get involved that would expose her to people with similar interests who are not necessarily on the evangelical path? I struggle with this with my son as well although from the opposite perspective. He LOVES spending time by himself and I'm often offering him the opportunity to get together with friends and he just says, "Hmm, maybe" and then goes back to whatever he was doing. There is a large homeschooling group here too, and it is very Christian in focus. I hesitate to join it for the very reasons you mention in your post, but I also want DS to have exposure to other teens who are homeschooling. But, if he has no idealogical interests in common with them, is it worthwhile to put him in the situation?

Blergh...I'm really helpful aren't I?? :p

06-10-2010, 11:31 AM
If the local group is that legalistic, the summer bio course is probably going to be full of things you don't agree with and would have to unteach. Or, you'd have to help your daughter learn to not look aghast every time they say some silly thing about the world being only 6,000 years old and Darwinists ruining the country. So I wouldn't feel too bad about missing that. ;)

I agree with Beth - ask your daughter what she wants to do. If she wants to try to find friends in the bigger group, I would allow her to do that. If she ants to try to find other programs to hook up with kids her age, do that. In our community there are teen volunteer groups, volunteer programs at pools and libraries, a whole teen section full of fun stuff to keep them happy at the main library, sports, summer programs, etc etc etc all for her age range. She could probably meet a lot of kids through programs like that, if she's interested.

Overall, though, I think it's a silly societal expectation that you must have tons of friends your same age. All kinds of friend situations make various people happy. If she is happy with her social situation, not lonely or feeling isolated, then don't worry about it. If she isn't, it's not like you have done something wrong, just address where she is now. :)

06-10-2010, 12:15 PM
I would talk to her about it, then meet her needs.

But I can tell you about my experiences. I was the child who went to public school, but couldn't tolerate people my own age. I have had many aquaintances, but only 3 friends. Real friends I could share everything with.

My daughter ( 22 ) was the same way, and one son ( 18 ). They were fine with one or two good friends, the kind they could count on. They are still the same way to this day. They are not unable to socialize, they can talk to anyone they meet on the street. But they just perfer their inner circle to be tighter.

The other son ( 20 ) needed to be in group things, he needed other people. He is still very social today, he has never met a stranger heheh.

06-10-2010, 02:52 PM
Ann, I don't think you're forcing her to be a hermit - after all, you're not forbidding her from interacting with people. You just have a healthy concern for the kind of interaction that's going to go on in your homeschooling group, in that your daughter wouldn't be able to be her true self. I obviously can't speak to homeschooling group interactions, as I'll only be going to my first one this month, but my experience with DS has been he's found his closest friends either in the neighborhood or through activities. For example, he knew someone through fencing, so we asked if he wanted to invite that boy over to play...er, hang out (h/t to Wimpy Kid.) While they're not best friends now, it's someone he can call up to do things with when he feels like it.

As you say, your daughter is interested in being more outgoing, so I'll chime in with Beth & Jessica in saying to let her take the lead and see what piques her interest. Also, while it might not be politic, you could let the people in the larger group know that you have another group available (somehow without trying to appear to be schismatic? :) ), so that those who silently go along to get along in the group will have the opportunity to help your smaller group grow - and increase the opportunity for your daughter to connect with someone who appreciates her for who she is.

You're a great mom. It's obvious that you put a lot of thought into their education. With this, it may be that it's a lot like homeschooling - you lay out the proverbial smorgasbord of places and people and let her decide how she wants to approach it?

06-10-2010, 04:18 PM
You certainly are not harming your daughter by teaching her to think for herself. The things you mention in your blog are issues many of us have faced (and still face). Your daughter could attend these larger homeschooling groups, but I believe they would do more harm than good. Typically the views in those groups are very limited and the outsiders who may have other beliefs are looked upon as being wrong. How would your daughter benefit from having to deal with the constant pressure to conform to beliefs that are not her own? Socialization is largely overrated. We would probably do well to focus on more thought-provoking nurturing close relationships than to worry about the flashy fun of large group activities. Sounds like you already have a good head on your shoulders and should trust your own instincts.

06-11-2010, 02:34 AM
I have no experience with my kids to draw from. I say, let her decide. If she chooses to try out the bio course, let her. She may find someone she connects with, she may not. And if you've taught her well (which I am sure you have, having read many of your posts; you seem to be very thoughtful, caring and a great teacher) she will know what your and her beliefs are regarding biology. This can be a great opportunity for further discussion of things from other perspectives. On the other hand, she may hate it and wish to leave the group, in which case, it's been a decision she's made through her own information.

I do understand your concern that she knows only 1 other person near her age. I think that maybe letting her choose to do the bio course she may meet others. Then she can decide if she even cares to know anyone else. And as mentioned before, encourage her to look for other volunteer opportunities that involve kids her age. Animal shelters (only good if she likes animals) are one place many kids volunteer at. Or maybe a local hospital? Or maybe encourage another class/lessons (sports or music, for example) that more teens might be involved in.

BTW, Fencing? That is awesome! I'd love to find fencing lessons for myself; I am sure at least one of my kids would be interested as well. How old was she when she started?

06-11-2010, 03:48 PM
I wish I could be as upbeat and positive as everyone else, but i'm in my own socialization crisis! I have a 6 yo and a 14 yo, and both WANT freinds, but are REALLY BAD at MAKING freinds. If there are christain support groups, and I suspect there are, i've just ignored them. Mostly, all I see advertised around here is coops, but my kids dont want to sit in a class. We did drama for a while, but the boys opted to stop going, and we never made any 'invite over' type freinds there. We tried to go to a martail arts class, but it wont really start until fall. My older one took a sewing class - not much there.

We did go to a teen group for a while, but its a 30 minute drive each way and she asked the parents to not bring the younger kids - but my son didnt get along w the kids well enough for it to be worth 2 full hours of driving with my 6 yo strapped in a car seat! There is a wednesday park day which is usually pretty good, but some of the moms get on my nerves so badly! Just talking about how to avoid paying late bills, or screaming really loud (the MOMS screaming really loud). I tried to start a friday park day, with a woman who was moving in to town, but she keeps skipping it and not telling me, and no one else is coming regularly, so I just deleted it from the groups calendar. We'll go to the pool, but all the kids there seem to already have freinds with them.

My younger son has 2 friends in the neighborhood, and a few other kids he has met and does ok with. My older one also basically has 1 freind. And his mom is the one who started the park day with me. I'll make an effort to keep in touch for the kids sake . . .

maybe i'm just still too burnt out, but i'm getting really tired of people coming once or twice, saying how much fun it is, and then never coming back! Why do people around here not like hanging out in the park with kids? i dont get it!

06-11-2010, 10:36 PM
Cara, I don't know how much patience you have, but I wouldn't necessarily reject the Christian group out of hand. The group here actually has some very nice people who are fed up with the stranglehold the evangelicals have on the group. They are finding their voice and are branching out. To me, there is a huge difference between and Evangelical and the rest of Christianity. There also may be a group of non=believers in the group who joined just to have a place to go. But it takes patience to find them.

Also, homeschoolers are notoriously flaky and seem to lack a commitment gene. That has been my experience and it drives the ones who expect follow through (like me) crazy.

It is tough.

06-11-2010, 11:26 PM
Also, homeschoolers are notoriously flaky and seem to lack a commitment gene. That has been my experience and it drives the ones who expect follow through (like me) crazy. It is tough. Can I say AMEN to that? LOL. I just discovered a blog through another blogger's profile (herself found via a Google alert), written by a (newly) secular mom homeschooling in Canada (Secular Nature Homeschool (http://secularnature.blogspot.com/)) and I am soooooooo jealous of all the cool group activities she seems to be involved with... entrepreneurial fair, science fair, monthly international lunch day, various classes and presentations.... aaarrgh! I would kill to find a group like this for Noah and me. I tried to organize things like these for my group and no one was really interested :( And she has a gardening blog (and I do too) and her raised garden looks way better than mine. It's a good thing that I don't believe in sin because I'd have a lot to confess this week. ;)

06-12-2010, 01:03 AM
I was given advice on my local group, that if I plan any events, make sure people are required to pay ahead of time - even if its a free event. The money will be returned to you if you show up, but otherwise will be donated to a worthy cause. Because people just dont show.

Honestly, i've seen it in my local on-line moms group. i was rather horrified. a dozen moms would say "we'll be there" and then, an hour before the even, 4 would post 'looks like we cant make it', 2 more would post appoligies afterwards, and 2 more would never even mention that they didnt show up. every time! I mean, I say "this is on my calender, but we'll have to see how we are feeling', or i say "we'll be here, barring anything serious', or "idk, its unlikely we'll be there, but i'll put it on my calendar'. i am baffled by people who gleefully promise to attend and dont even seem to notice when they dont.

Someone said somewhere, recently, on line, about California - "i flaked out" is really not a good reason to miss a meeting or a deadline at work . . .. i guess i'm still an uptight yankee, even living in the capital of the south

06-12-2010, 10:50 AM
I think I've got my next article subject figured out!!! "Why are homeschoolers so damn flaky???"

Ought to be an interesting study!! ;)

06-12-2010, 05:33 PM
My dds' drama teacher, who has gotten fed up with the local group for many reasons, finally started charging for her class, even though there was no cost to her involved. Why? Kids dropped out of the production midway through because mom didn't have time to get them there, they just weren't interested, or, best of all, they didn't like the part they got. Whatever happened to think about things before you commit and suck it up because like is full of disappointments?

The local ice skating rink has a homeschool skate every Thursday during the school year. They had the skating coach offer lessons. People started dropping out and she vowed never to deal with homeschoolers again. She pointed out that she charged and we told her ask for payment for a month at a time instead of paying as you go along. At least then you have been paid for you time even if no one show up.

And, of course, in addition to being homeschoolers, most of these families are Christian. Gives the decent ones in each group a bad name.

06-12-2010, 07:33 PM
ok my two cents;) I had the same problem with finding the boys friends in the beginning of our homeschool adventure. We even have neighborhood kids who are their ages but they never hit it off much. So I did alot of homeschool group research, and I mean we went to alot of different groups until we found one that worked for us. It does take alot for me to push my self out the door, but my boys are very social people for the most part. It just takes time and you all have to have the desire and I mean alot of desire to find people that you can click with. We did martial arts for a year and the boys liked it but there wasn't really much time to socialize and make friends too much (of course my oldest made some younger friends just because he is so crazy most of the time, he attracts them)

It is hard for me to go out and make friends and even harder to keep up with them. I would say try a bunch of different groups and activities in your area and see if anyone clicks with you all. We also did a bunch of art center classes and musuem classes that we met some people we like. so there is hope!
(sorry for any typos, my spell check isn't working)

06-12-2010, 11:57 PM
Maybe i'm confused, but I swear I havent seen any 'groups'. There are park days, there are classes, and there are co-ops - free co-ops, paid co-ops, christain co-ops, secular co-ops, and co-ops you have to apply and interview for. The state christain organization sometimes organizes major field trips - 'home school days' at various sites around the state. Sometimes you purchase your reduced ticket directly through the venue, sometimes through the christain organization. But I went to the state fair on 'homeschool day', but didnt really manage to 'meet' anyone. I havent made it to the other ones yet, because my boys rarely last more than an hour at a field trip, and they are mostly 2-3 hour drives, so it seems pointless. Do you really think i'm missing something? Or is it possible there arent really any 'support groups?' The person I tried to start a park day with had homeschooled in 3 cities already, and commented that 'the homeschool community in Richmond isnt much in to community'. Is that possible, in a decent sized town? Or am I really probably missing something? And of course, thats the other thing - i hate to be paying for more than 1 or maybe 2 classes at a time for each kid. We never planned to live on one income . . .

06-13-2010, 12:09 AM
lol I just went back to the place where all the groups are listed. Most are specifically christain, or i'm already on their (totally inactive) yahoo groups. I tried 6 more links, and 4 of them were bad links, 1 was a yahoo group with only 1 post in the last 12 mo, and one was a website about a consumer program for highschoolers with no reference to how to connect w a homeschool group or team. Many of the christain ones are pretty specific - i've seen some of their statement of faith requirements, some are specifically catholic, several are associated with specific large churches. sigh.

06-13-2010, 02:01 AM
My homeschool group has a statement of faith and looks really kind of abrasively Christian on the surface. They are great in person and I am super happy that I gave it a shot.

The secular group that looked great on the surface was unfriendly and weirdly regimented and generally not what I wanted.

I really think the best way to find people to build community with is to just go out and meet every single group within a distance you are willing to put up with, and see how it goes.

06-13-2010, 08:37 AM
I hear you, Jessica, and maybe I'll try. My best freind in the neighborhood belongs to one of the massive churches that has their own home school group, and my husband reminded me, again, that she's really sweet and her son and mine get along despite her being extremely christain (praying on every decision with her husband, met her husband at church, thanking the lord for putting his spirit in to her son when he chose the bible as the first book he wanted to read). I think its esp hard because I grew up jewish and my mother was pretty anti-christain, and i did experience some prejudice. I feel very 'wrong' when surrounded by super-christain people, afraid i'll say something wrong, constantly having to bite my tongue about my past experiences during my wild days, and always afraid they will try to convert me, which i just find very uncomfortable. I dont deal well w having to bite my tongue constantly. And of course, some of these groups ARE formed specifically to protect their children from secular influences.

wait, does that mean you lied on your statement of faith? I mean, i am strongly athiest and strongly honest, I CANNOT sign a statement of faith. Not possible, with the possible exception of a life-or-death situation.

06-13-2010, 09:38 AM
You are right, there are groups that are meant to exclude outsiders, and definitely that would be a poor fit. There are other groups, though, that are much more inclusive than they seem on the surface.

When I signed the statement of faith, I scratched out "believe" and inserted "agree to respect the beliefs of the group, including...".

I really never thought this would work. I knew about the group and had friends in it but it just seemed like a really terrible idea. One of the people I knew already suggested we join the group for a field trip, and I said that was silly, why would the fundies want to hang out with the heathens, but she talked me into it. My son clicked with all the kids and everyone was very nice to me, and so we started coming to park days and I've been (mostly) happy with the group since. When conflicts have come up, we've resolved them as a group and moved on.

Part of what makes this particular group really strong, I think, is that we are member led. There are a core group of people who share the responsibility for kind of prodding everyone else into making decisions and such, but there is no leader. Every person does their share to contribute to the running of the group. With that level of investment, you don't see people just not showing up to field trips or anything like that.

Cara, I wish you were close to us! We'd totally love to hang out with you. I hope you find an awesome group soon. :)

06-13-2010, 10:08 AM
My homeschool group has a statement of faith and looks really kind of abrasively Christian on the surface. They are great in person and I am super happy that I gave it a shot.

Jessica, I'm so glad you're posted about your experiences in such a group. Speaking as an atheist, it's just as easy for us to outright dismiss believers and their organizations as it is for them to dismiss us. I have to say that most of my friends are believers in something, I only have 1 atheist friend IRL. Politically, all my friends are liberal and I'm not. I think that it's important for all of us to try to keep our minds open and be willing to give people a chance because sometimes, we are pleasantly surprised. Not everyone has ulterior motives, I would be pissed beyond belief (ha!) if people assumed that I wanted to be their friend to convert them to atheism or a more conservative political view, for example. I think that actually a lot more people than we think might be of the "live and let live" persuasion.

Of course, I say this as someone who just (temporarily) closed her group to new members because she is leary of having to deal with new, potentially "dramaful" people IRL, lol. If there is something I am intolerant of, it's drama queens. Ugh.

06-13-2010, 10:14 AM
btw, my very religious neighbor mentioned that her son might ask if my son could some with him to his vacation bible school. I mentioned it could be akward, and finally said "what if my son says, i dont believe in god." My freind assured me that would be fine. when she teaches sunday school, she teaches her lesson (usually a bible story), but its god's job to put his spirit in to someone, not hers. That, of course, is a big part of why we get along so well. She accpets me as I am.

06-13-2010, 02:19 PM
btw, my very religious neighbor mentioned that her son might ask if my son could some with him to his vacation bible school. I mentioned it could be akward, and finally said "what if my son says, i dont believe in god." My freind assured me that would be fine. when she teaches sunday school, she teaches her lesson (usually a bible story), but its god's job to put his spirit in to someone, not hers. That, of course, is a big part of why we get along so well. She accpets me as I am.

Cara, that is exactly why I don't mesh with the majority of evangelicals. They have this burning purpose to make sure every meeting with a non-believer is not a missed opportunity to witness. They put the word ministry on everything. Your friend remembers the basic tenant of evangelizing - it's God's job. It is very hard to make friends with someone when you wonder if they really like you for who you are or whether they just view you as another project. I often want to ask, can't you just be? Do you always have to be on? Please take it down a few notches and chill.