Can Siblings Become Best Friends?

Can_Siblings_Become_Best_Friends?There are some people who will only be in our lives for a brief moment, friends who will be there for a short while, and yet others who will last for the long haul. Amidst the vast – or very few – friends we have, usually one or two rise to the top and are termed the “best”. In our own home, we have encouraged our daughters to find “best friends” in each other.

Having three girls in the house and all close in age, that isn’t unexpected, is it? Now I understand not all of us like our sisters, much less are each other’s best friends. But perhaps growing up in a Christian home where this is encouraged and nurtured will move their hearts where ours was not.

While our girls are encouraged to have friends outside of our family and to nourish those friendships, we highly stress the importance of sisters being their “best friends”. Others might be “close friends”, but none should be more important than their own sisters. Spending our homeschooling day together, playing, and being creative all helps them to further their relationships and strengthen the bond between them. They share secrets, surprises, and sorrows; all of which help to cement their friendship.

This does present a slight problem for my son though, being the only boy in the house. He, on the other hand, has needed to find a buddy. Generally, my husband is his best pal and he probably will be for some time. But my boy has several close friends he enjoys as well. It is a blessing to see them playing, reading, and relaxing together.

While my brilliant plan might not work… I intend to fully continue encouraging my girls’ friendship, lending a helping hand from time to time and watching it bloom.

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
~ Psalm 17:17

Your Turn!: Do you encourage siblings to be “best friends”?

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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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“I’m Not Your Friend Anymore!”

im_not_your_friendIt is always hard to see our children become heartbroken and hurt, but how do we help them overcome something they have seemingly no control over? Quite recently, one of my children found herself in a difficult situation. One of her friends wanted something and when my daughter wouldn’t give in, her friend became distant and cold towards her. Her body language was clearly saying, “I’m not your friend anymore!”

To make the situation even more sticky, it seemed her friend was intent on spending additional time with one of my other daughters instead. This put both of my girls in a difficult position and added to the hurt. I decided to tackle this one person at a time.

Divide and conquer!

I sat down with the offended daughter and talked through the situation. I made sure she knew she had every right to make a decision for herself and hold fast. She needed to decide how important this issue was to her and then move forward. We also talked about what true friendship should look like.

On her friend’s behalf, I encouraged my daughter to give the girl some time to calm down. Perhaps she was just upset and needed time to think things over.

I also wanted to reinforce the fact that, while my daughter had no control over what this friend did, she did have control over how she reacted. There was no need for her to carry around a burden of guilt or be overcome by sadness; she had control over how she would let this affect her. She needed to choose to move on, giving her friend space and time.

Additionally, I sat down with her sister and explained her part in this little game. I wanted her to understand she shouldn’t allow herself to be caught in the middle. Interestingly, sister mentioned how she had tried to use that time to soften their friend’s heart. She explained her sister’s point of view and attempted to make their friend understand.

While neither of my girls could force their friend to extend forgiveness, it was comforting to know that they did stick together and support one another in this circumstance. A few days later, it seemed all was back on track and their friendships resumed. While I am glad things are more normal, I think both my girls learned a valuable life lesson and became closer for it.

If someone is going to turn their back on you simply because you won’t do what they want, they are probably not your friend. If you act that way, the same could be said. May we walk into friendships thinking less of ourselves, inspired to give everything over to God and His glory. And through each of our relationships, may we be living examples of Christ’s love.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;”
~ Philippians 2:3

Your Turn!: What advice would you have given, had this been your child?

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Exploring Other Options

I probably should add a disclaimer to this post. Not because there is anything wrong or improper in what I am about to write, but because I might know some of you on a personal basis (those I see at church or via homeschooling) and I don’t want to you start worrying about our family. That said, let us forge ahead….

There are times in life when you just feel the need for change. If your lucky, it might be as simple as moving the furniture around in the front room or hitting the closet for a new outfit. At other times, bigger action is required; a new car, a new city, or job might be in order. In our case, there are times we wonder about the fit of our homeschool group.

Let me be perfectly clear, we love the families in our group! We are surrounded by some of the most thoughtful, wonderful people you could ever want to know. Putting that aside for a moment, our group is pretty small. Our family count this year is only fourteen families. While that might seem like a decent amount to most people, in So Cal, we are surrounded by groups which number well into the 100’s.

6th Grade

I think, no, I know there are benefits to each type of group. One offers you a more intimate knowledge of the people around you and an opportunity to feel like family. On the other hand, larger groups offer more activity, flexibility, and responsibility more equally dispersed.

During this past year, it seems several families in our homeschool group have considered exploring other options. A few went for interviews at other PSP locations, some went to group activities, while others simply did some online research.

It seems there was a general consensus; no matter where you go, there are going to be issues.

Up ’till last year, I don’t know that I would have even thought about ‘testing out’ other groups; we’ve been happy where we are. Unfortunately, about a year ago, my kids had begun to notice they are pretty much the only kids in their grade. My oldest girl is pretty much alone wherever she goes, unless two other young ladies happen to show. This year, we have a few more families than we had the year before. This means more play friends for my younger three, but my oldest is still hoping for more companionship.

Recently we were invited to check out another group and I am sorely tempted to see what they offer. The prospect of my kids being surrounded by tons of other kids their own age sounds appealing. However, I would hate to no longer be apart of our current group and being in a larger group doesn’t guarantee more friendship, just a larger pool.

For now, we are going to stay where we are. Until the Lord purposefully moves us, this must be where He wants us. We like our group, we like the people; perhaps we just need to spend more purposeful time in prayer over more young ladies joining the group.

After all, each group has it’s issues, right? If this is all we’ve got, we’ll take it!

How many groups did you explore before finding the right fit?

The Mad Scientist: A Social Experiment

Instead of our formal science experiments today, both mommy and the kids are trying out a few social experiments instead.

You might have noticed (or not, no biggie) that I have a new feature on the side bar of my “home page”. I now, officially, have a Facebook fan page. Deciding to finally activate such an account was a big struggle for me. It seemed either self-serving (which it could be, but it’s not) or just a waste of time.

Facebook LogoAttending the recent CHEA of California convention led me to believe I have been wrong on both counts. The first lecture I was able to attend was on social media. While I believe myself fairly savvy on most media fronts (thanks to my awesome husband and being self-employed), I appreciated Mr. McCoy’s perspective.

He said the purpose we should be seeking in social media isn’t to glorify ourselves, nor to gain readership, but to use it as an outreach for others. He explained that using social media was just another avenue for spreading the ministry of homeschooling and the amazing benefits of guiding our children’s futures.

So, to that end… I did some praying about when and how to set up the fan page. I told myself when the readership on the blog got to a certain point, that would justify my need for a fan page on Facebook. ‘Lo and behold, here we are.

I figured this was a good experiment to try; no harm, no foul. For all I know I might not get anyone who likes the page or posts anything, which is all right with me. At least I will know I gave it my best shot and attempted to reach out to others whom I might not meet on WP.

On my children’s end, we are going to be trying some new things out for them as well. Our homeschool PSP is going to be starting “Youth Nights” where the junior and senior high students can get together and fellowship.

We have also decided to make a point in calling their friends and setting up play dates over the summer months. Today, we have asked one such young lady over for some fellowship and fun. This young lady and my girls have started a book club, so they will discuss their current read and they’ve decided they would also like to bake some cookies.

This should be an interesting year. We will see where the Lord leads with both the Facebook page and entertaining friends. Here’s hoping!

Do you have a homeschool fan page you follow on Facebook? Please share! We’d love to follow them too!

Merely an Acquaintance

My Boy and His FriendsDo you remember being little and claiming that every child you met was your “friend”? I think most kids have a tendency to assume that all kids with whom they play fill that category.

It wasn’t much different when I started having my own children. Our kids would automatically label anyone whom they met as a “friend” and ask if we could have a play date.

While I am generally a friendly person and highly encourage my children to be so as well, I have also come to the conclusion that not everyone we meet can be our friend.

Being someone’s friend implies that you are going to invest something in their lives. Being a friend is more than just playing or even talking; it is building something into that person and letting them do the same with you.

Being someone’s friend means that we have a bond, which is usually accompanied with affection (on one level or another). You support one another and champion their cause. A friend doesn’t always tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. They’re someone whom you can depend upon, no matter the situation.

At the root of the word “friend” is actually the word “love”. A friend is someone whom you love.Girls' Friends

I confess, based on these descriptions, I am not a friend to everyone I meet. I don’t know that I could even try! There is not enough of me (or anyone else for that matter) to be a friend to everyone on the planet.

No, to be realistic, I think it safer to assume that while I am friendly with almost everyone, I have more acquaintances than friends.

An acquaintance, as opposed to a friend, is someone about whom I only have slight knowledge. They are someone whom I have met and enjoyed for a brief moment, but unfortunately do not have a close relationship with.

As my children get older, I am helping them to become aware of the difference and to choose their friends wisely.

Not everyone they meet, will or ought to be considered their friend. Our friends are people that we are associated with, people who are like-minded, and will help us become better than we are.

The Bible is very clear about how we should pick friends, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26)

Over the years, I have enjoyed the blessing of a few good friends and the company of many great acquaintances. Each have added something to my life and have taught me valuable lessons.

I pray that as my children grow older, they will learn to discern between the two and yet remain open to those who are not yet friends.

Being on WordPress, I have had the privilege of making a few new friends and learning life lessons from those with whom I have become acquainted. It is my sincere hope that some of you who are merely acquaintances now would, though time, become dear friends.

What do you think is the significant different between a friend and an acquaintance?

Ministering With Meals

Dinner TimeThis evening, the family and I have the privilege of serving dinner to another family in our homeschool PSP. It seems the mom needed to go in for surgery and is incapacitated for a few weeks. Desiring to lend a helping hand, each family in the PSP has volunteered to serve dinner to help them through.

Tonight is our night and we are excited to be helping out! We are blessed to have the opportunity to give back to our friends and to show how much they are appreciated.

I can’t help but think that this is a wonderful example for our children. The idea of looking out for other people’s needs and lending a hand.

I remember when I had each of our children and the ladies brought dinner. I don’t think I had to cook for over three weeks! These ladies blessed my family so mightily, I was blown away.

I want to make sure that someone else knows what that is like….

Does your homeschooling community help in times of need? How so?

Among Friends

My little man (on the left) with a pal.

Today was a fun day. A friend’s daughter was having a birthday party and we were all invited to help celebrate. There were ponies, tire swings, and more BBQ than you can imagine! While we were able to enjoy all of those things, the Lord brought something else to my mind. Today was a great reminder of all the friends that the Lord has brought into my children’s lives.

As a homeschooler, I have the pleasure of not just knowing about my children’s friends, but actually knowing my children’s friends. I know their parents, I know their siblings, and anyone else close to them. We know their worldview and they know ours. I never have to wonder whether or not a friend can have a play date, I can answer immediately because I know. 

One of my girlies (in the green blouse) surrounded by a small group of her friends.

I wonder how many parents actually know their children’s friends. A suggestion I would make to parents is this; get to know them. The people your children are around, influences them more than you can imagine. The friends that they make today will help shape who they are tomorrow.

I am blessed in being able to say that my children are surrounded with a great group of friends. Friends that I pray they will have for a lifetime.