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No friends...we've been trying


SunshineMom
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Both my kids have no friends they see on a regular basis.  Our homeschool community doesn't really exist outside preset groups.  We live in a city with many homeschoolers however the homeschool community has split into many fractions.  Some have enrolled their kids into ALE's (Alternative Learning Education) centers, others in religious closed co-ops, preschool/elementary co-ops and just closed friend unschooling circles.  We have no cohesive or visible teen community of homeschooling families. We have made the rounds with these groups and just don't belong.  My youngest dd is in sports however her fellow teammates are very clicky and slow to make friends with a "homeschooler." My oldest dd has some speech/processing speed issues which others notice so they shy away.  We have tried for over a year to make friends.  My kids have gotten involved in theater classes, nope, no such luck there. I just feel horrible. I am isolated too. I really don't know if homeschooling is worth this isolation.  I really don't know how much more we can take.  Has anyone returned to public school for social reasons?  I would worry their academics would suffer if they went to public school.  Maybe I am making too much of the social? Maybe we need to do something different?

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Went through this with my son who started college this year and now my daughter is having the same complaints.

There are not a lot of teens in my area who are homeschooling. She does not care for the ones we do know. She never clicked with them. She wants more local friends to hang out with. She does swim for our local high school but she does not have a lot in common with her team mates. She is feeling quite frustrated at the moment.

 

I wish I knew what the answer is.

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I don't have answers, but two things helped my kids: I made new friends, with parents of kids who homeschool, and we just expect our kids to hang out when we do; and we lucked out and moved to a neighborhood with a great group of kids, some of whom happen to homeschool. If those two things had not happened, I'd keep trying different activities, and trying to connect with other parents at the activities, to assist in the outside-of-the-activity department.

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Do the college years provide more opportunities for making friends?  Maybe the kids have more social skills?

 

In our experience, yes. 

 

dd went off to school about a month ago, and definitely has a ton more friends than she did in high school. She is having a great time - there are just many more kids on her wavelength available to click with. 

 

I never figured that going to school would change much of anything, bc it's not like they weren't out there meeting people. As you said, they just weren't clicking and finding a core gang. School does mean being in a group all day, which some kids do like. 

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:grouphug: if they play an instrument, I would look at youth orchestra as here many audition in 7th/8th/9th so not as clicky. Another less clicky activity is teen book club at the library. 7th-12th grade kids from different schools attend. Sports have many school teams at that age so might be less easy being a new comer that isn't in school.

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My dd13 has been in a small orchestra (mixed age) and plays two instruments for years.  She's been involved in Teen Council and Teen Library club for over two years (no one questioned her age at 11) but she's more friends with the librarian than the other kids:( My other dd doesn't play anymore and isn't interested in library clubs.

 

Sorry, this is hard.  I really don't understand why they don't have friends.

Edited by Jewels
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I'd look for some more socially oriented activities -- for my kids scouts, youth group (for the younger one), regular game nights at the local game store and at the library (and at home) have offered some of those things. There's a Teen Writers workshop at our library, actually there's a ton of teen programs available through the library (knitters, makers-space events, movie and video game nights, a dungeons and dragons group, etc.) 

 

I'd say classes aren't always great for making friends because you're focused and then you're supposed to leave :)  You need activities where the time is spent interacting with each other. Do they have any fan-dom type interests?

Edited by theelfqueen
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 What are they interested in? Online communities can be great for niche interests and offer some support to the out-of-sync teen. Both of mine have been active in communities for writing, art, fandoms, just various things. It's a good feeling when you realize there are others who share your interests, even if you can't meet them in person. 

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I didn't always click easily with people in my teens, so I'm basing this advice for your kids on what I wish people had told me sooner. 1. It's okay to be friends with adults instead of kids. Just like when you are 30 you can have a friend who is 60. 2. Find a place to volunteer where you can serve a cause you care about. You are more likely to meet people you click with there, but even if you don't, you'll gain confidence doing good work.

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We were in the same situation. The only homeschooler of dd's age that she saw outside of groups was not a friendship I wanted to encourage.

 

She first went to a small Montessori school, and there her academics did suffer, although she was happy socially.

 

In February we moved her to a Christian community school (we're not religious). This has been a much better fit academically and she has thrived socially.

 

Two things:

It was incredibly draining to not trust the first school to take care of academics. I had to supplement pretty much all 'skills' - time management, writing, research - and push her to work at her best level because they really didn't care.

Second, dd is bright enough to qualify for academic programmes, and I was able to push them to look past her lack of grades (no testing in Montessori) and consider her for the accelerated class in 4 subjects. This made a huge difference as it mostly excludes the more disruptive kids. (Of course there are good kids working at all levels, but as these classes are selective the disruptive kids aren't really found there.)

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Would they be interested in service opportunities? I would guess meeting people through serving a charitable cause together would help filter out clicky people. They may not meet people their age, but probably would meet friendly people. I'm thinking specifically of an animal rescue group in our area in need of regular volunteers. The other suggestion is for your family to join a local hiking group. Hikers are usually (but likely not always) friendly, down to earth, and honest by nature.

 

When I was in my 20s and lacking friendships, I joined a quilting group. I had mostly elderly friends for several years. They have been the longest lasting friends in my lifetime. Well, atleast those from the group that haven't passed away in the last 20 years.

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I think it's overrated a bit but I'm not in your shoes! Sometimes there are seasons for things like this but they pass eventually. I am pretty isolated myself socially, until recently when a college friend I was estranged from happened to reach out... Give it some time and good luck!

Edited by Shred Betty
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Do they have other non same age friends? Those kind of friendships are undervalued. It is hard with activities because most kids in school have school friends so they aren't particularly looking for friendship in the activity. Some friendships do form with the long term activities but they aren't the ideal way of getting to know people. We are lucky the kids have friends through church otherwise we would be in the same boat. It does make it difficult if there's ever a need to move churches though.

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It sounds like you have tried quite a bit already.  One group that a couple of my dd's clicked with was a large metro girls' choir.  It took girls from all over the metro area (from different high schools and some were homeschooled).  The girls tended to be ones that were open to making new friends and didn't necessarily have a clicky friend group already.  The group really bonded together and had some pretty special times.

 

But, I do have a couple kids in particular who just had a hard time making friends.  I initially blamed it on everyone else (ha!), but realized at some point (and this is very easy to see now in hind site!) that these two kids were just complicated souls.  When I was growing up, I made friends with anyone sitting next to me and didn't overthink it.  These two kids of mine tend to overthink and analyze everything.  They are also very particular.  So I could have said "Stop overthinking everything and just let loose!" but it's just the way they are.  So instead of wondering why they weren't making friends and putting exhaustive energy into trying to find them, we mostly accepted it, had fun, and found pursuits for them that they loved and that took up their time and challenged them.  (Because most of all, they enjoyed being busy and challenged!)

 

Of course, being in a PS setting does make some of that easier, and it does provide a built-in group of peers to be part of, even if you aren't best friends with them.  So, I don't think you need to rule that out.  My kids did high school part-time at home and part-time at the PS most years (meaning a couple classes there plus extra curricular activities) and that worked out really well for them.  Don't feel that you're giving in if you decide to go the PS route.  But also, don't be under the impression that that will solve everything.

 

The kids I'm referring to are now in their 20's and function just fine in life.  They are both very friendly and have a lot of interests and are content, but their friend-lives are still a challenge.  They just kind of accept that now.   :)

 

Edited by J-rap
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Are there homeschooling sports teams where you live? Three of our kids played basketball, volleyball, and baseball on teams composed of just homeschoolers. They made some good friends that way. It was a busy season of life with practices, games, and sometimes traveling for games or tournaments, but they loved it. They played against other homeschooling teams, private schools, and occasionally small public schools.

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Do the college years provide more opportunities for making friends?  Maybe the kids have more social skills?

 

I think it can.

 

I didn't have many close friends in high school.  There were some kids I hung out with, but I wasn't close to any of them.  I was lonely a lot of the time.  I hung out with kids from a few different cliques that I had something in common with, but none really quite saw things the way I did.

 

Even my first year at university I didn't meet a lot of kids as I lived at home.

 

But once I moved on campus, I did.  Partly because you meet people living with them, but also I was more involved in my department.  And I met some through my job as well. 

 

A lot of my closest friends today are people I knew from university.

 

OTOH - it was a small school and department that was a good fit for me in many ways, so the people I met I found I had a lot in common with.

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Would they be interested in service opportunities? I would guess meeting people through serving a charitable cause together would help filter out clicky people. They may not meet people their age, but probably would meet friendly people. I'm thinking specifically of an animal rescue group in our area in need of regular volunteers. The other suggestion is for your family to join a local hiking group. Hikers are usually (but likely not always) friendly, down to earth, and honest by nature.

 

When I was in my 20s and lacking friendships, I joined a quilting group. I had mostly elderly friends for several years. They have been the longest lasting friends in my lifetime. Well, atleast those from the group that haven't passed away in the last 20 years.

 

I joined a hooking group when I was first a SAHM, and that was mosty ladies 20+ years older than me.  There were a lot of nice things about the age spread.

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My older kids made good friends when they went to school. I think part of it is being able to see the same kids on a regular basis and living close to them (in the same school district) so they could get together easier outside of school.

 

When they were homeschooled, their homeschooling friends generally didn't live close by. Most of the kids lived at least 20 minutes or more away, and not in the same direction (dd's friend lived 20 minutes se, while ds's friend lived 20 minutes nw), so it made it hard to get the kids together on a regular basis to hang out, especially when the friends' parents didn't want to split driving.

 

Also, when I homeschooled, my kids and I did schoolwork during the day, except when we had co-op or went on fieldtrips. A lot of my homeschool friends got together socially during the day on a regular basis, so those kids developed strong friendships. We did not have the time to do that because our evenings and weekends were booked.

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We're hitting that too, which is one reason why DD has applied to attend a specific program next year. I'm torn-I think we can make the academics work at home pretty well, and being home allows a LOT more time for her interests, but the fact is, the homeschool community here seems to mostly go back to school or to do university model tutorial programs for high school.

 

One thing DD has asked about the program next year is "Can I bring my friends home?"-I realized that, in her world, having a friend over always involves significant gyrations and organization from parents. None of her friends live close. Her best friend lives 3 hours away. The idea that she could talk to someone in homeroom, call a couple of parents, and have them come over after school is very appealing to her.

 

 

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Both my kids have no friends they see on a regular basis.  Our homeschool community doesn't really exist outside preset groups.  We live in a city with many homeschoolers however the homeschool community has split into many fractions.  Some have enrolled their kids into ALE's (Alternative Learning Education) centers, others in religious closed co-ops, preschool/elementary co-ops and just closed friend unschooling circles.  We have no cohesive or visible teen community of homeschooling families. We have made the rounds with these groups and just don't belong.  My youngest dd is in sports however her fellow teammates are very clicky and slow to make friends with a "homeschooler." My oldest dd has some speech/processing speed issues which others notice so they shy away.  We have tried for over a year to make friends.  My kids have gotten involved in theater classes, nope, no such luck there. I just feel horrible. I am isolated too. I really don't know if homeschooling is worth this isolation.  I really don't know how much more we can take.  Has anyone returned to public school for social reasons?  I would worry their academics would suffer if they went to public school.  Maybe I am making too much of the social? Maybe we need to do something different?

 

 

My son has returned to PS this year largely for social reasons. That does not necessarily provide true "friends" either, but does decrease isolation. Best for friend was when a very compatible child was across the street. But then that family moved away.

 

Isolation is really hard. I am dealing with it too. And also have tried a group of things that aren't a "fit."  Or have had good friends move away or die.   I think keeping on trying is all we can do.  My son became a figure skater, and bit by bit after being isolated and not feeling I fit there, I have begun to become friendly with some of the adults who run the skating group. And my son has started to make friends with one or two of the girls as well as with an adult male who is a figure skater and a boy hockey skater--at least enough not to feel isolated there.

 

Keep looking. Scouts, 4H, local environmental groups, local groups that fit personal interests...

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Wanted to add that it took at least half a year for getting to know people to start happening with the skating.  And now, about a year and a half after starting, we have met a couple of people outside of the rink too. We were there for the skating lessons for my son, so lack of friends happening was not a reason to stop, but it was not until we were there and seeming committed for a while that I think we were seen as other than just casual group -lesson people who would come and go. So it may be that some of the things you have tried might work if you give it longer. Or not. Hard to say without trying. I am not up to taking on a leadership position for health reasons, but I have also noticed that it seems to help the kids and the moms who take on leadership roles in the club.

 

With public school, it was not just sending ds to it, but I also had him join the cross country team for the main purpose of making friends. I had already learned that at our school cross country was a good social sport, because they can talk as they run, have an overnight camping trip and so on.  This was for helping *him* with friendships.  However, when I go to pick him up from practice I am starting to find that it is also a bit of non-isolation time for myself since parents talk if the kids are still running, and it is a commonality that we have kids there running and certainly an automatic conversation starter.  None of this so far is a close real friendship, may or may not ever be--but it is, for us both, a good antidote to isolation.  

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Wanted to add that it took at least half a year for getting to know people to start happening with the skating.  And now, about a year and a half after starting, we have met a couple of people outside of the rink too. We were there for the skating lessons for my son, so lack of friends happening was not a reason to stop, but it was not until we were there and seeming committed for a while that I think we were seen as other than just casual group -lesson people who would come and go. So it may be that some of the things you have tried might work if you give it longer. Or not. Hard to say without trying. I am not up to taking on a leadership position for health reasons, but I have also noticed that it seems to help the kids and the moms who take on leadership roles in the club.

 

I tend to agree that it takes time. Not just a month or two. And volunteering definitely helps. I try to find ways to volunteer where I'm going to have opportunities to interact with people, engage in small talk, etc.

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Have you invited these families to your home? For us, that was a big component of developing friendships beyond the smile and nod level.

 

The teens may need an activity at first (cookie baking, playing cards, watching a movie, frisbee, etc) to keep them from the awkward I don't know what to do with myself moments.

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Totally understand.  We go through spells of nothing, to spells of huge circles of friends.  We are in a drier spell currently.  We moved and have been here 2 years, but I see that it's getting better...just not where we used to be.  

 

I found sports not to bring friends.  Once the season is over kids are on to the next thing.  It's a short lived social time.  We have never had a friendship extend for long after the sport ends.  Exception:  gymnastics team(they spend so much time together it's a close friendship)
 

I found support groups are mixed results.  A weekly PE meet up did bring new friendships.  The families that came consistently became good friends.  Those who only came here and there never bonded as well.    But just a monthly meeting, nope.  The ones who were friends stayed friends.  New people are often on the outside looking in, never able to bond.  It takes high involvement in every activity of a monthly group to really find friends.  And I have led a group...I found that you pretty much have 3-5 committed families and 20 non committed families.  

 

Scouting groups have been our best success.  You are meeting weekly or bi-monthly.  Parents are often involved as well.  Siblings are often around.  Spouses are present at every awards ceremony/special event.  If you stay involved you will meet a lot of great committed families.   It's not perfect.  We had a few bad scouting group experiences, but if you find a good one, it's usually awesome.  We drive 40 min to get to good scout groups.  It's worth the effort.  

 

I was one to always stay within a 15 min radius for our activities.  Now, I drive farther.  Reality is the people I like don't live near me.  I wish there were more kids close to me, but they all seem to live 20-30 min from me LOL.  We are seriously considering moving that way next year b/c after 2 years it's clear that is where our tribe is.  

 

The advantage of less friends right now?  My teens like hanging out with us parents.  We do a lot together. It's become a nice relationship.  Mine aren't so peer focused.  I know it will come, but for now, we are enjoying the family bonding.  It takes more effort on my part some days, but it's worth it.  And I know a busy friend season will come.  

 

 

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Have you invited these families to your home? For us, that was a big component of developing friendships beyond the smile and nod level.

 

The teens may need an activity at first (cookie baking, playing cards, watching a movie, frisbee, etc) to keep them from the awkward I don't know what to do with myself moments.

I'm the last person you should ask about making friends, but I second this. You really don't know someone the same way, just meeting at activities, as when you see where they live. Inviting people over has turned acquaintances into friends. My kids are little, and the days of play dates are easier, I know. But when we didn't have people asking to do things with us, I made a point to have people over. Like, it was in my schedule to invite someone over every Monday, awkward or not.

 

Also emphasize that there's no perfect match friend. Or you might not meet that person til college. You don't have to have everything in common, or click instantly, to be friends. I'd like to tell my younger self to just hang out with someone who's willing, rather than hold out for the person who really gets me.

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Kind of there right now I guess.

 

We had lots of friends when my oldest were little.  Playgroups and such.  But we pretty much lost everyone when they all went to public school and we did the home school path.

 

We more have acquaintances.   Most of the time it doesn't bother me at all.  I like to know people, but I love my privacy too.

 

We are doing some new things this year.  Joining Swim Team.  They have made some friends there already.

 

Joining a Dance Studio.  Instead of just a park and rec class.  They will be with the same group of kids for a year.

 

I am thinking about joining choir, band, and orchestra for my oldest. 

We usually do co-op, but I didn't like the new times of the one we used to go to, and I didn't fit in with the other one.

 

I am looking for 4-h right now.  But I don't know if they really get together enough.  

 

 

 

 

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I was this teenager but I was in public school. In retrospect I think that some of my problems stem from being an aspie but I didn't know that at the time.

 

I think that sometimes homeschoolers struggle to make friends with public school kids because they are unaccustomed to the social norms of public school life.

 

One thing that helped me was volunteering as a candy striper at the hospital. I met a few friends that way who were social outcasts themselves. I really would have thrived well with social groups that included adults or was mostly adults.

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Can they go to school part time? That is what my dd did for 9th and 10th grade. She was feeling isolated and so took two elective classes at the local high school. It does help to be around the same people all dealing with the same situations day after day. Now she is dual enrolled full time and has a group of friends on campus, some from the high school and some new.

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We have hardly any friends and have been here four years. I think one year isn't so strange to be trying to find friends still. I remember seeing some other posts about people not fitting in after living somewhere a while. So this doesn't sound all that strange/uncommon.

 

I don't know that going to school will change things. I mean, I went to public school my whole life and was still a loner much of the time. I had some friends in high school, but a lot were more acquaintances than friends because we mostly spent time together on campus. At least, that's how I saw it at times. Ds is trying private school partially for socialization (we're very isolated where we live and making it to co-op etc. is quite a stressor) and he's having trouble making friends. The other kids have known each other for years, but it could also be a personality thing, possible ADD, etc.

 

I know this post isn't very helpful probably, but what I'm trying to say is sometimes people just don't click and it may not necessarily have anything to do with school. I think if there was a hobby type thing that might be cool. Like create their own group or find one on meetup.com or such. As for college, yes, I thought of it as a total game changer. I had a way more social life in the college years. Also, I didn't drive in high school so that limited my out of school interactions.

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I know exactly what you mean because we're in the same boat.  I have three teens and the lack of friends has been the hardest part of homeschooling for us.  We've tried several activities and groups and none of them have led to lasting friendships.  My kids also do not "click" well with most other kids that they've met.  (My boys did make some friends at engineering camp, but they all live out of state.  And my daughter has some penpals/online friends, but they also live far away.)

 

Sending our kids to school is not an option.  We pulled them out four years ago, mostly because of abysmal academics, but also because of bullying and other crummy peer group stuff.   We live in a very rural area and all social activity for kids is centered on the school, and especially on school sports, which homeschoolers are not allowed to participate in.  

 

To make matters worse, there are only a handful of other homeschoolers in our area, and they are all much younger than my kids.  Homeschooling is just starting to catch on here, and in a few years, there will probably be plenty of homeschooled high schoolers, but now there are literally none.

 

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