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  1. #1

    Default Help, I'm stuck in a very conservative area and we have no friends

    Hi, I wondered if anyone might have advice for me about how to survive the high school years in a place we don't seem to belong. My dds are 14 and 16 and have always been homeschooled. We are pretty unschooly but have definitely gotten a lot more schooly as they are getting closer to college. We started out homeschooling in a college town, just a very liberal, lovely place to be. We moved to a rural area three years ago and we have never hit our stride here. There are no museums, no resources really to speak of. There are lots of church youth groups and consevative Christian co-ops but I have yet to meet another secular homeschooling family. My girls are really feeling the isolation. We also are highly introverted people, which adds another layer to the feeling of isolation. I sometimes think I should scrap this whole homeschool thing and just send them to high school. Anyone else been through this and find a solution? Maybe there is something so obvious that I'm just not seeing it. I lost all of my peers, too , with this move and I very much miss being able to bounce ideas off of other people who understand. We are doing okay with academic stuff, just not so well socially. Any thoughts would be appreciated 😊. I'd love to move but that is not in the cards right now.

  2. T4L In Forum Aug19
  3. #2

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    Welcome, and so sorry to hear you are feeling so isolated!

    I dont think sending your girls to public school will help any - if the community is so conservative that none of you are making friends, its not going to be any better there!
    The majority of people on this site are introverts by nature.... I think there is something we (introverts) like about being able to choose our level of participation. Online friends / acquaintances could be a satisfactory path for you, and with reservations about whom online your DDs interact with, them too. (Emotionally vulnerable teenage girls dont have the reputation for having the best sense of discretion when it comes to getting attention from online strangers.)
    The general advice for dealing with social isolation / no friends is to search out activities not homeschool-based. Volunteering at the library or parks, hobby groups (birdwatching, chess, bonsai, hiking, cars, antique clocks... whatever floats your boat), and organizations like Girl Scouts or 4H might be places to bond with people you have an interest in common with, besides homeschooling.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3

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    We live in a very rural area as well. So I get that you may not have very many opportunities in what most people consider to be the local area around you, but how far are you willing to drive for social opportunities?

    We have to drive about 90 minutes in any direction to get to a town with things to do, shopping opportunites etc. It's just part of living rurally. We have a membership with the library in the next county that costs us $30 a year so that we can have access to a decent library. There are homeschool groups in those towns as well that we could be active with but we are perfectly happy without the extra commitment for now so we don't.

    Like Alexsmom said, have you tried joining interest groups outside of homeschooling? Outside of your immediate local area? Online? Is there anything that your girls have always wanted to do that you couldn't do in a more urban area? Gardening? Ride horses? Attract local wildlife to your yard and observe them? Keep chickens or guinea fowl or peacocks? My husband and I were both self-professed city dwellers before we moved here 6 years ago but we have learned to love our quiet little corner of the world and can't imagine ever living in the city again now.

  5. #4
    Senior Member Enlightened Artmama's Avatar
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    We found some community in an unexpected place - nature journaling and pokemon science classes on Outschool. What we found was that a lot of the same kids enrolled in additional classes from the same instructors. In turn the kids got to know each other. The instructors sometimes facilitated this by extending class times so the kids had an place to chat and share. Not all of the instructors / classes did this but it doesn't seem uncommon...

  6. #5

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    Sorry you are feeling isolated. I second all the advice from everyone else about separating out social from homeschool. Don't search for the elusive all in one. Enjoy your quiet homeschooling on your own. Then do social things elsewhere. Even if it ends up being with people who are religious, I find attending an activity (like my kids do dance, gym, iceskating) that is not run by any homeschool community, then you don't get all the religious stuff or can just ignore it and focus on the activity.

    Also, I find when I am feeling isolated and like I have no real friends (many acquaintances but no one who really 'gets' me or we totally click), it really helps to remind myself that I am quite introverted and I do enjoy my own company so maybe I am not that lonely. I also like to remind myself that I am pretty quirky and come across as highly critical (even DH struggles with this part of me, but as I tell him, I am not saying it from a critical origin it is just me gravitating towards the challenge of optimizing everything), so the likelihood of me coming across someone that will tolerate me is pretty low. So I just take some deep breathes and reevaluate and reprioritize. What am I really missing/needing? Perhaps I am bored and need some me time (so I personally took up horse riding lessons to cover this). Perhaps I need to vent about homeschooling or need some advice (I come on here). Perhaps I just want some casual chatting (I make the effort to just start random conversations at the checkout, in the library etc., who cares if we don't share beliefs, its just some conversation in passing).

    At the age your girls are, I think it would be a great time to have valuable discussions with them about all of this and different ways they could break down where their feelings are coming from, and how they could tackle certain parts of it to make things better. Like if they feel they want a friend, break it down into some separate things they might get from that friend. Then can they come up with ideas for how they could get those things from separate sources rather than an all in one friend. It is something people struggle with at many stages in life, and knowing how it find a way forward is very beneficial.

    Edited to add: Not saying what you are feeling is not valid, or you are not actually lonely/isolated, but I know I often find my feelings like that are accentuated because I am benchmarking my regular social interactions against extrovert ideals. Then when I really think about it, it is not as bad and I can just make some little tweaks to make it pretty ok. And knowing my own personal quirks and that I usually don't fit in, that makes me more ok with not fitting in. It also makes me really appreciate the times that I do fi in.
    Last edited by NZ_Mama; 08-04-2018 at 04:55 AM.
    New Zealand-based. DD 11 (year 6 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 6 (year 1 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

    That's a kea (NZ parrot) in my avatar. You can learn about them on Beak & Brain - Genius Birds from Down Under on Netflix.

  7. #6

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    Thanks so much for your thoughtful and helpful posts. Really and truly. You have given me lots to think about. As my girls have gotten older, I have weirdly become less secure in my choices. I have really started doubting myself. My dh is not much of a help as he has glorious memories of his high school days and thinks I'm shortchanging our girls. (He went to high school in a very wealthy community on the East coast, we're stuck down in the dirty South😉, haha, not quite the same...). I am so glad I found this place. Maybe this will fulfill my need to communicate with others who understand. Thank you again. I'll be back to tell you if we've made any progress.

  8. #7
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    We relocated from a very multi-cultural area to aa very conservative rural area also. My eldest child decided to go to public high school and found some great friends, joined the art club. Although it was a culture shock for the first 6 months even though the town is very conservative the high school kids were pretty average kids with a variety of groups including an lgbtq club. My child did so well academically they earned college scholarships and is now in their sr yr at university, for them it was overall a positive experience and they still have their best friend from hs. Prior to that they were quit isolated and lonely. My youngest started in public after we relocated but came back home after 3rd grade and was also isolated and loney for several yrs until we finally found a like minded and "stable" group of families 45 minutes away, but some of the members live near us and it has been a life saver for this child.

  9. #8

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    I know how you feel. I live in Georgia and everyone is conservative. I don't like to drive so I can tell my daughter feels isolated. I don't really have any friends that I click with too. It's tough at times.

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Help, I'm stuck in a very conservative area and we have no friends