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Military Moms...? about home school groups

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(I guess I should have titled that, military families or military spouses)


I am just wondering how you go about finding a home school group you feel comfortable and accepted in? Is your group an off-base group or a military group? Is it mostly enlisted, officer or mixed families? Do you think any of the factors above make a difference?


I have been participating in a group that is mostly high-ranking officers spouses. We are enlisted. While they are nice on the surface, there is a "clicky" feel to the group. I just don't feel comfortable or wanted there.


I have been to an off-base group that is mostly civilian. They were nice but I have not gone enough to know if that is the place for our family. Plus, this group is 45 minutes away.


What are your thoughts about military groups vs. civilian? What do you prefer? Have you run into a rank "pecking order" within the military groups?

Edited by runninmommy
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I have been participating in a group that is mostly high-ranking officers spouses. We are enlisted. While they are nice on the surface, there is a "clicky" feel to the group. I just don't feel comfortable or wanted there.



I have encountered a few issues in the mixed setting that you described. The first problem I have noticed is that many of the officers' spouses are older than I am. This isn't as much of a problem now that I am approaching 30 but it made for some interesting dynamics when I was 22 or 23 and they were in their mid to late 30s. I think those are just two very different places to be in life and we really didn't have much in common at that point.


The second issue I have run into is that the officers' spouses were sometimes interested in organizing activities that exceeded our budget. Again, my dh and I were younger at the time and he was lower enlisted. We barely had two nickels to rub together so we missed out on some great "getting to know you" experiences like trips to the amusement park.


I was always interested in forming friendships outside the group as well so there were other issues that presented; for example, we were often invited for play dates at officers' homes but I felt we could not reciprocate because we lived in cramped, two-bedroom base housing. Our yard was small, we had no pool, trampoline or playground equipment, etc. This problem was really more in my head than anything; I don't think the other wives minded or expected me to have them over. I'm not sure it would bother me now but it really weighed heavily on my mind back then.


ETA: By far the group I have enjoyed the most is the civilian HS group we just left. They were a Christian group though not affiliated with a specific church. I have tried groups affiliated with churches but they don't seem a good fit. Those groups, in my experience, tend to be more CO-OPish and religiously oriented towards their denomination.

Edited by Pretty in Pink
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We're not military, but we live in a town near an Army base. I just wanted to encourage you not to rule out a "civilian" group! Over the years, our lives have been enriched by the military homeschooling families we've known through support groups.


The only downside is that it's so hard to say "Goodbye" when they have to move on!



Good luck!

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I have not personally run into a military pecking order, however I am very oblivious to spouse rank. Except for close personal friends, I couldn't tell you what the ranks of other support group families spouses are. Heck, I'm famous for asking a dad at a Naval Academy event if he was still in the navy. He said yes, that he worked at local large commands. He was an admiral my dh was briefing the following Monday.**


I would suggest first that you try not to read too much into your perception of cliquishness. There may be other reasons why the other women seem to be chatting about things that exclude you (age of their kids, participation in kids' sports teams, relationships from church, friendships from past duty stations, neighbor relationships in housing). There might have no intent to exclude you at all, just other relationships that are exerting themselves.


I think that homeschool support groups also tend to have some families that are very involved in all the activities, some that are involved in a few and some that are only interested in occasionally dropping in. It is important for you to decide what your interest level in any group is. There will always be a couple families that seem to know everyone and a couple that drift in and out that you never seem to get to know. That is also ok.


One suggestion that I might make is for you to get involved in helping to organize one of the larger events. This has been a way that I have gotten to know people better in past support groups. (Just for me 45 minutes would be too far for frequent participation. And I think you would find different points of disconnect there because of their unfamiliarity with the military and because they might tend to stay in the community much longer than military families do.)


One other thought is that you can look for relationships outside of the official support group. My best source of support and friendship at our last command was among the homeschool moms at our taekwondo studio. Very diverse bunch from CO's wives to retirees to non military locals. None of us had a perfect overlap of backgrounds, interests or homeschool goals. But we swapped information, made suggestions on tweaking curriculum and were general encouragers. I hope you can find your niche too.


**There is one exception for me right now. DH's master chief's family attends our chapel and his wife is a friend of mine in the homeschool group. I do watch myself that I don't do things that might be seen as presuming on this command relationship. For example, I would not ask her to babysit my kids.

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Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses. I really appreciate it.


I am going to give the military group another shot. I live near a base that is a training base and the turnover rate for the families is one year. They are only here while one of the parents is in a school and then they move on. So, lots are moving and new will be coming in. I did come late in the year when everyone else already established their friendships. I'm sure that comes into play.


I am also very shy. At the same time, I have gone out on a limb talking to people and trying to get involved. I do think there are some spouses who wear their husbands rank, that is very off-putting to me. I do not look at rank. Period. I try to look at the person and find common ground. Do you think some spouses view that as disrespectful?


I don't know. I just feel so out of place. I went to a HS party for the HS group yesterday. I tried to strike up a conversation with 3 different people. They all gave very quick answers then walked away. I felt so deflated. I felt like I was bothering them. I spent the rest of the party sitting by myself. Trying to figure out what was wrong with me.


I *know* that sounds pathetic. Like I am not trying enough. Believe me, I am. At several different events I have tried. It is just not working. We have been here for 6 months and I have not made any friends.


I will probably try the civ. group again too. I would just like to meet some like-minded people. Why does that have to be so hard?

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I too have been in the position you describe of finding it hard to get traction in getting to know people. But I also have to realize that I am also sometimes the mom who cuts a conversation short. There are all sorts of reasons why (my kids are misbehaving, I have responsibilities that are keeping me busy at that function, someone is coming or going that I needed to talk to, I'm tired).


I am rapidly approaching the stage where I am the senior spouse in the room (measured by dh's rank). I honestly don't know where all the time went (or when I got all my gray hair) and I don't think of myself as being senior. I hope that I don't give someone the impression that I don't value them because I interupt a conversation to go and tame one of my kids.


You might mention to the group's leaders (or board or organizers of specific events) that you would really appreciate it if there were name tags at meetings and if the group would spend a couple minutes on introductions whenever possible. It is easy to forget how much turnover is happening in a group once you have gotten to know a lot of people. Nametags and intros help this a lot.

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I wish there were a straight answer or an easy answer for your question.


Sometimes these groups just depend on the membership. One on-base group we belonged to changed from year to year. The first year I joined (also the first year I homeschooled) the group had a very different slant. I ended up feeling fairly unwelcome due to both my husband's rank and our religion. The second year was wonderful. The membership had expanded and become more diverse, we focused more on what we could provide the kids. Both parents were typically more involved. It was a complete attitude shift.


I have found that there are certain assumptions made about families, their educational goals, etc. based on the rank of the service member. Quite often, those are just false assumptions. Sometimes you must just persevere and as often as possible leave your husbands job "at the office" and search for common ground. I'm sure those women can't help but turn to each other for support on issues that are their shared common experience. They may not perceive the group as being as unwelcoming as you find it. I find that sometimes wives of higher ranking officers feel the need to provide leadership or support, they perceive that as being what is expected of them. In a homeschooling group this can set the wrong tone but not necessarily through their desire to exclude or make others unwelcome.


I think my best advice would be to decide what you need from a homeschooling group and then find if one of them fits you, your family and your needs. If not, take what you can use from the group at hand and offer your talents when you are able.


Sending you a BTDT hug...

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