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Question: My homeschool has good days and bad, but generally I feel it is what is right for us, though not for everyone. My husband seems satisfied with the academic results, but recently shared that he is worried about the lack of socializing. He does not like that they have "no friends." There is no local catholic homeschool group. There is a Christian homeschool co-op, but I felt we could not sign their faith statement as Catholics. There is another group that gets together for field trips, once-a-month ice skating or meeting at the library, but I have not participated mostly because the baby still needs a nap. Also, we have attended a few things and haven't "clicked" with anyone. From my perspective, the children are good friends to each other. And I've seen some things that I would not welcome in some potential friends - loss of innocence on so many levels. I have two questions. 1) How would you recommend that I talk to my husband about this? 2) What concern do you have about socializing? How much effort should I put into this?

Dear Mom,

What a wonderful topic you have written about for homeschooling families.  Your concern is not unusual.  We have all heard the words, "You're homeschooling?  Aren't you worried about your children meeting other children?  Will they be socially intelligent?" 

Let's look at socializing in two lights.  When we have large, busy families, and we know that it is important for our children's friends to have good values, we don't need to be spending every waking moment seeking out friends.  We don't need to attend every field trip or join every co-op or organization.  As you wrote, our children will create good, solid relationships with their siblings.  And, you are right to watch for the loss of innocence in your children, when they have spent time with potential friends who are worldly, use harmful language, and have developed poor values and morals.  Our children may not like it, but it is our responsibility as parents and primary educators to choose their friends for them.

On the flip side, I agree with your husband.  It is important to seek out a few good friends.  Your children should be able to relate to people outside of their homes, and to get along well with other people.  When your children play with other children, they are lovely catholic examples for the rest of the community.  A learning opportunity for your children is met.  They will be able to see and talk about the differences in their faith, and gently evangelize with those who have good values, but might not share the same faith.  With you, they will discover how blessed they are to share in the fullness of the true Church.  They might also meet other catholic children, and grow excited about their knowledge of their shared faith.  It is wonderful for catholic children to play and learn together.

How do you meet these special friends to help your children grow?  IT TAKES TIME.  Think about what you look for in your own friends.  The Christian co-op isn't an option if they are making you sign a faith statement, but if you can join without strings attached, that might be a way to meet friends.  You have a baby that needs naps during the field trip time.  Do you have a babysitter?  Can your baby skip a nap or sleep in the car on the way home?  It's hard to go on the first few field trips, but you might find that you love getting out and participating as much as your children.  Again, it will take some time to meet families that you click with, but those day trips sound like a lovely way for you to meet other moms, and for your children to have fun.

If your city offers Community Education, that is also a terrific way to meet friends.  Community Education offers inexpensive ways to exercise and get out.  Once your children have met a few friends, perhaps you could invite one or two over to your home.  If your children have chosen friends with similar values, have them over when it works for your family. 

Finally, have you considered your church?  Invite families over for supper.  You might not click with every family, but I'd be willing to bet that there is a family out there that you and your husband will enjoy immensely.  When everyone is together, you can monitor how the children are relating to one another and they will have a great time in the yard, family room and at the dining room table over a pizza.

Share this letter with your husband.  I may not have answered everything as you or your husband would have liked.  But, hopefully I got the ball rolling for some ideas and a good conversation.  You are doing well with your children academically, and your strong allegiance with the Catholic faith is evident.  I urge you and your husband to stick with homeschooling.  It is working for your family.  You just need to stretch yourselves socially, and give it some time.

Most importantly, pray that you, your husband and your children will meet one family, or a few good friends to share some fun times with, and to pray with.  There is nothing like sitting down with another family, and praying the rosary. Be patient.

Blessings to you and yours,

Julia Johnson



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