Our second of four children will graduate homeschooling soon. The oldest is about to graduate from local community college with honors and has been accepted into our largest state university with scholarships and an internship. He has maintained all of this in addition to 20+ hours of work a week. He has done well and I am confident our schooling was academically successful. The second child has a 30 hr a week job, is finishing school and dancing ballet 14 hours a week. She will attend the community college in the fall. Child number three is in 9th grade with us. She also dances 14 hours a week and continues to get summer ballet scholarships and even has a sponsorship for her pointe shoes!
All this shows that they are successful academically and at navigating activities and interests in life. They love the Lord, each other, and us. They are contributing members of their society. However, lately some revelations have been given to us about how they have felt about their homeschool years.
All are saying that they appreciate the way they have been taught and the things they have learned. They recognize the difference in their educations to that of their peers. But…they are now telling us how very lonely they have felt. We have never had much of a home school community near us. There are always a few families here and there. Always they have younger children. The few families we connected with all sent their children to public high school. No one near us has homeschooled high school. The closest co ops have always been an hour away and the cost is usually close to $1,000 per child per year! Excellent program, but it was always unaffordable for us.
My husband took a new job with a large income raise this year. We put the two youngest in this one day per week program. They have enjoyed it, but are saying that they don’t have real friendships there because those kids have been together for years and don’t readily admit new people into their circles(sadly)and also because the kids in this program live 1 to 1 1/2 hours from us. Hard to get together much.
We have attended and in some cases been in leadership in 5 different churches in the past 20 years. We have never found a homeschool community in church either. Some churches were even hostile towards our choice to homeschool and it hurt our children- which is why we left those churches. We live in a very dry place for home schooling. We mistakenly believed that our love and commitment was enough for our children. Now we are being told how very sad they have been.
We realize that some of this is lack of perspective on their parts. We all tend to think that we are missing out on what we don’t know. We have shared that most people know a lot of people, but only have a few real friendships at any given time.
They have friends in ballet and part time jobs. But these friends are all going to public high schools and have their own circles.
Our 9th grader is crying and wanting to go to public school next year because she has been so lonely without kids her age to do life with. She really feels it now as her older two siblings which are closer in age to her than the youngest sibling, are away most of the time with college classes and work. They don’t “do school” with her anymore. Her older siblings have shared deep loneliness and fear that they have missed out on friendships and milestones.
I am searching for ways to bring more friendship and community to them without placing my third child in public school. The closest private school is 50 minutes away and the cost is around $10,000 per child. Our convictions on why we have chosen homeschooling have not changed. However, our hearts are broken for our children. We have always known we were lone rangers in our area, but we underestimated the cost our children have paid for it. We are so sad.
Have any of you had a similar experience with your children? Can anyone give us some encouragement or direction?
Let me add that my husband and I have always practiced hospitality and have had many people in our homes over the years. Our kids have done nursing home ministry and neighborhood ministry for years. They have a lot of friends that are adults. IT is like minded families with kids their ages that have been so lacking for us.
Hi Benita! I just wanted to let you know that I have been thinking about you and your family and wanting to respond but have been very busy lately.
I am on my phone now so I can’t type all I want to say but I am planning on responding as soon as I have a few minutes to get on my computer. Just know that you are not alone and I am praying for you and your family.
On second thought, would you like to email me instead so we can have a less public conversation?
My email address is Melanie a Rudd at gmail dot com. No caps and no spaces.ClaireParticipant
@Benita – thank you for sharing this here. We need to all be more open to this issue and help one another.
I could see myself finding out the same things in a few years when my kids are off to college. I feel it now although they don’t admit it yet. And yes, mine too are experiencing growth and success in academics and extracurriculars but with no real friendships made through either.
We moved the kids at ages 5 & 3, then at 9 & 11 and then at 15 & 13. Looking back, with that lovely clarity that only comes after the fact, I think this has had a significant impact on this issue for them. Just when they’d settle in we’d move. The moves were advantageous in some ways and ultimately necessary in others.
I think it is almost impossible for teenagers to “break in” and make friendships where the kids have been together for a long time or where they are doing a different schooling path (public vs. homeschooling, etc.). I finally think I realized that it takes an incredible character on the part of a teen in one of those established settings to reach out and bring in a new teen and stick with them.
Children totally lack this strength of character. This frightens me and I want so badly to teach this skill; to make sure my kids aren’t lacking it as well. I have watched so many heartbreaking moments (over the years) when children just can not sustain the initial reaching out when the pressures of their culture come in to play. I am not a fan of public school children – I think they survive in a prison model and it shows greatly in how they treat others and in their character development but that’s only one angle. I’ve seen this same weakness in our church youth who attend different schools; in our homeschool co-op youth who have different schooling methods. It’s ubiquitous and very sad.
Loneliness is devastating. It can be very damaging over a lifetime. And it sticks with you. So, what can we do in our homes to combat it? Especially in homes where there is stability, a good amount of outside involvement, good academic variation.
Is it true that homeschoolers are un-socialized beings?! That ugly, awful question we all work against: how do your kids socialize? I tend to think not. I think there is a definition difference in socializing versus loneliness too. I don’t think they are mutually inclusive.
What steps do we take as homeschooling parents that won’t compromise our standards and beliefs in order to combat loneliness?
I wish I knew. Hopefully, a rich discussion with ensue on here and we will all grow a bit.
Thank you, Melanie32 I am happy to have others praying with me.
Thank you. I agree. It has nothing to do with “socialization”. It is about fellowship and acceptance. I also agree that teens are very bad at inclusion. I know I probably was as a teen. And, sadly, most homeschoolers and church kids do no better than other teens in this area. I have brought it up to youth leaders and they usually pretend it doesn’t exist. I think they don’t want to admit it and don’t have a solution. I believe this is probably the heart of the issue with school violence. School and teenagers in general are not inclusive and accepting.
I know that in the end, how many friends a person thinks they have pales in comparison with larger life issues like integrity, character, faith, wisdom, etc… but my teens live in the here and now. And here and now, they are lonely. It is sad. I am praying for answers. I am glad others are willing to be transparent here.
I think there are some small pockets in certain communities where people are so blessed with like-minded families and support that they have no idea what I’m talking about. Yet, I also believe that there are many, like us, who have struggled to have community. I pray that together we can make some progress and make things better for our kids.caedmynParticipant
<p style=”text-align: left;”>Is there any sort of hs Facebook or yahoo group in your area? If so maybe you could post something looking for other teens who might also be looking for someone to hang out with. My oldest is 12 so I have not experienced exactly this but she definitely has a strong longing for friends and is frustrated because she can’t spend much time with other girls. A couple years ago she was showing signs of depression due to this (doesn’t help that she has 4, soon to be 5 younger brothers and no sisters). I started keeping an eye out for anyone who mentioned on local hs groups that they lived in our area (we live out of town in a rural subdivision) and asking if they had a DD near her age. I was able to find someone 2 blocks from us with a child 2 years younger (DD is immature for her age so this age difference tends to work well for her). I had no idea another HS’er lived there. DD has since found another HS’d girl a few doors down from the first one. Neither are entirely ideal as the one has a LOT of attitude and isn’t always nice and the other isn’t home much, but it has been helpful to DD to have nearby friends and I have allowed her to choose whether to play with the not-always-nice one and we talk about boundaries and standing up for herself. She has not imitated her attitude so this is workable for now. She wants to go back to the church-school she attended K-2 for the friends but idk if it would really solve the problem as the same girls in the school attend our church and she is often excluded there, so I suspect that would continue even if she attended the school.</p>
Anyway, all that to say, maybe consider if there are ways you haven’t thought of to search for friends for your younger children.
Thank you for the idea. I had started a Facebook group years ago for our area. There are a couple of high schoolers and everyone else is elementary age. Those few high schoolers are nice, but not really interested in the kind of social things my daughter is looking for. They are happy to go skating and bowling, but she wants friends to do life with; not just an organized event once a month.
I still manage the Facebook page and add inspiring quotes and links to curriculum and other resources. I used to run a monthly support meeting in my home, but there was never any consistent interest.
Well, I typed up a long reply and then my power blinked while I was checking it for errors. 🙁
I’ll try to sum it up by saying that our family has experienced similar circumstances. I have prayed about it for years. As I believe God is sovereign, I must believe that He is answering my prayers and that, for some reason, this is what is best for my children. Maybe He is teaching them to stay true to Him and His word even when it seems like they are the only ones their age doing so. Maybe He is training them to go against the grain so that they may walk the straight and narrow path even if they have to walk it without any close in age friends. I choose to trust Him and that He is providing all of our needs. I know that there have been times in my life when I’ve been quite lonely but the Lord used those times to draw me closer to Him and He provided a few good friends who encourage me to be a better person in His own good time.
It is hard though, at times. However, whenever I’ve tried to force some action in this area, it has always turned out poorly. I just try to keep my kids busy with the good social opportunities that are available and with field trips and church.
I would love to say more but my computer is giving me a hard time, for some reason. Hopefully, others will chime in and we can continue the conversation.
I did want to add that my kids have always had friends. They just haven’t been able to see them as often as they would have liked. My son is grown now and has plenty of friends and a long term girlfriend so he survived and went on to have an active social life.Little WomenParticipant
We have similar problems, and no good solution. We have done well with co-ops, especially the ones that have a student lounge area for between classes. My kids have never fit in at youth group (no matter which personality of child it is). They have a lot of acquaintances but few real friends. I wish I had a good solution. (I do not think public school would actually help this much, as they are generally told, “you are not here to socialize.”)jeaninpaParticipant
For a different perspective, I would have to say that we have had this issue with some of our kids — lots of acquaintances, but no close friendships — but it hasn’t been isolated to our homeschooled kids. Some of our kids who went to private high schools also experienced this. This makes me wonder if it’s more common. Perhaps we tend to ‘blame’ it on homeschooling, but maybe some people just have a harder time developing close friendships. Don’t you think that’s true for adults as well?sarah2106Participant
I have many friends with kids in public school and their kids struggle making lasting friendships, though have a lot of acquaitances. Also because of their families beliefs and values/rules it seems now, more than even a few years ago, the kids fit in even less, they don’t have cell phones, see all the new movies, the “cool things”… Being in an environment with more kids does not make finding friends necessarily easier, and can sadly make it harder because now feel isolated in a crowd and see how “different” you and family are. Different is not bad, but can be hard when young (and as adult too).
I also think for some friendships come naturally, it is their personality, others it is harder. But even for those that it comes naturally that does not mean all their friends are close. I have a good friend and she seems to know and chat with everyone, but she only has a couple friends that are lasting friendships that she shares with, so from the “outside” it looks like she has a lot of friends, but she often does not feel that way.
I think friendships are hard, they are hard to find but often come unexpectedly. Keep trying different things, you never know where a friendship will be found. In my personal experience they do not always come in unusual ways, not at church or homeschool group…, my good friend and I met through selling children items through a local online marketplace, we hit it off, and have been close friends since. We both homeschool now, but met when our kids were itty bitty.JenniferParticipant
I have six children ages 23, 22, 18, 13, 11 and 8. My older two attended public school for high school and my 18yo attended private school from 8th grade through graduation. My older ones had friends in school, but honestly they did not have very many close friends. Now that they are adults their friendships from high school have all faded away. They are just now establishing lasting friendships. I also want to add that the two who went to public school were hit with all kinds of peer pressure that they gave in to some of the times because they wanted those friendships so badly. My 18yo dealt with all kinds of “mean girls” in her private school, although she does have one very close friends from her private school and they are still close even though my 18yo is away at college. All this to say that even if they go to school it doesn’t mean they will have “close” friends. Yes, they will have circles to run around in, but that doesn’t mean there will be a close knit relationship happen. Most public school high school kids are just as lonely. It may look like they are having the time of their life on social media, but I promise you they aren’t. Their character is so much more important and they will eventually find those true friendships. It is worth the wait.
I deeply regret allowing my older ones to go to school. They were lonely and I was so tired and having a hard time keeping up with their school and raising little ones that I caved and let them go to school. Now that they are a little older, they have encouraged me to homeschool my little ones all the way through and they encourage my little ones when they are feeling lonely and friendless.
My 13yo has a lot of friends, but unfortunately her friends are “mean girls” and they are from her homeschool co-op. It is awful, so we have slowly been distancing ourselves from them. My daughter has made an effort to talk to girls at our co-op who are sitting alone or may be too shy to talk to others and has made 2 new friends. These girls are so pleasant and their moms have thanked me over and over for my daughter befriending them. They were just too shy to talk to others first. My daughter introduced her two new friends to each other and now they all three go to the trampoline park, or hang out at other places together. It has been great.
I think it is very normal to go through periods of loneliness. I am an adult and I am going through this myself. I know it is so difficult to watch our kids be lonely when at that age they crave friendships. I will say it again… character is so much more important and those sweet friendships will come in time. 🙂 You could try public school, but there is so much she will be exposed to and not everyone there will be nice. Public School does not equal instant “true” friends.KarenParticipant
This thread has been an encouraging read for me – in two ways. First, to hear that my 13yo dd is not alone in this struggle– there are other girls her age seeking close friendships and not finding them. And second, she can live through this successfully…..and maybe that homeschooling, even with this disadvantage, is still better than the alternative in the long run.
My heart still does ache for my 13yo — she longs for a friend to do “girl talk” with. And unfortunately, the friends from our support group aren’t providing that. Some of it’s our fault — we’re dairy farmers….so we all contribute and we don’t go away all that often.
I have started taking my dd to a neighboring church’s youth group Bible studies – they have more girls…..but again, it’s not fulfilling that “bosom buddy” longing. Yet. Maybe in the future. (As a combined disadvantage-advantage, my dd is getting experience teaching and helping in our church’s kids’ club, which means she needs to miss the Teen Bible study.)
It seems there’s a disadvantage for every advantage that homeschooling provides. And yet, I can’t shake the feeling that this is right for our family. I guess being right doesn’t mean it won’t be hard…..and maybe even hard in ways we think it shouldn’t be.
Anyway, thank you all for your contributions. I appreciate knowing that you’re all out there, struggling with the same things!
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