Forcing Children to Make Friends

forcing_children_to_make_friendsI don’t understand. Help me understand. They asked to participate. They were looking forward to today’s event. Now, all of a sudden, they would rather not go. As we’ve started branching out in our homeschooling endeavors, this seems to be a recurring issue. Do I start forcing my children to get outside and make friends?

The Lord has opened incredible doors to us recently. Nature groups, book clubs, and more are all becoming available. While I’d love to participate in everything – that’s just who I am – I also understand this is not physically possible. Thus, I often ask my children which activities they would most like to attend and try to make them happen. Sounds great, right? One would think.

The dilemma is not in the planning, but in participation. Inevitably, the morning of, my children express disinterest in the activity. They hem and haw, unsure of whether or not they wish to attend. To make matters slightly more difficult, these are not events which require our presence or activities which have been reserved. Nope; we are free to come and go as we please. Which is lovely, unless your children use this as an excuse not to attend.

What’s a mom to do?

Understanding the Problem – Perhaps my children’s disinterest is a mask to cover their fear or anxiety. Making new friends isn’t easy. New venues can be stressful. Maybe they are currently content and have no interest in making new friends. It happens. It might be our schedule has been over-busy and our kids need a break. I won’t know what the problem is until I ask. Open communication needs to take place, and my children need to know they can trust me. I want to help, not push them further away.

Working Together – Great, we now know what the problem is. Let’s find a way to make this work. Prayer is always the best first step. Finding a working plan is the next. Maybe a current friend could attend with us, helping us feel more at ease and breaking the ice. Whatever we need to make this work, we’re willing to give it a shot.

When It’s Time to Move On – Let’s face it. It takes time to do all this research. If our children are not expressing an interest, it might be time to move on. Instead, let us focus our attentions on activities they do wish to actively participate in and make the best use of our time.

Here’s where we now stand: I will present an event or opportunity to them. If they say, “Yes”, then we go. Period. Let your yes be yes, and all that jazz. However, if they consistently say no to a group or set of activities, it’s time to put it on the back burner or lose it altogether. It’s just not the right time. No harm done.

Emergencies and inclement weather aside, my children need to understand the value of committing to planned activities. By doing my part and better understanding their desires, I can help them make wiser choices in which events we should attend. Together, we can go forth and have fun, making new friends along the way.

This shouldn’t be me pressuring them to get out and have a good time. Instead, it should be a family endeavor to enjoy each day, prayerfully making new friends along the way. It is only by understanding, encouraging, and forging the way will we arrive.

“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes ‘ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.”
~ Matthew 5:37

Your Turn!: What’s the furthest distance you’ve traveled to make a homeschool event possible?

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11 thoughts on “Forcing Children to Make Friends

  1. I feel your pain. It is very hard to encourage kids to make friends when they feel their family is sufficient. Imagine that you are being taken to a cocktail party where you know you will meet people you have nothing in common with…My sons had to force themselves out. They are perfectly content to read or spend all day on the computer. I think they connected best when I invited the families of the kids they would be meeting at an activity to our house first, planned regular informal get togethers at our house especially games night. Then they had a safe space to share their interests. By my third son, I realized I had to be the social engineer. 4H camp, cross-country and track, piano playing, barbershop chorus, bagpipe band, volunteering with kids younger than himself, work experience programs. Each activity had something that would make him stronger, give him leadership skills, help him know himself better, introduce him to adult mentors. I wish we’d done a team sport.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your tips are very helpful. My kids tend to want to do everything! But, there have been times where they’ve wholeheartedly committed to things and then complained about it the morning of. But we go, and in the end they are happy we went. I can’t put my finger on the need to complain, though and I wish it would stop!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We hear you; complaining is hard to listen to. With our kids, we’ve found open conversation about why they are complaining and pointing out Biblical perspective on complaining is helpful. Then a lot of prayer on our part, asking the Lord to work in their hearts.

      Liked by 1 person

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