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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“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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Do You Have a Tribe?

do_you_have_a_tribeDo you have a tight group of friends? A ‘tribe’, if you will. You know, those friends who call you simply to say hello and ask how you’re doing. People who you attend gatherings with and go on occasional field trips. A group who will encourage and edify. A tribe.

As a family, I would say our tribe starts here. We might seem small, but we are strong in Christ. From our inner circle, extends outer rings which add to our lives. Part of our tribe consists of family members, while others are friends. Members of our church and homeschool groups make up a few of the tribes we are proud to call ours.

While the bulk of our tribe is physically present, able to participate in activities together, we are blessed to have a few online as well. These are friends the Lord has brought into our lives who – even across oceans and continents – are a blessing. We pray for one another, encouraging each other in the roles God has given as Christians, spouses, parents, and homeschoolers. True, these are not common, but the Lord can do wonderful things when we seek Him out.

What is the function of a tribe? To edify, assist, and encourage. We look out for each other. We inspire one another to seek righteousness. We learn from each other, help one another, and lift one another before God.

Our tribe has not always been as large as it is now. At times, it felt as if our family and a very small group of friends were the entirety of our circles. And that’s okay. Perhaps you’re there now? Don’t be discouraged. The Lord has you here for a reason. When the time is right, the Lord will increase your tribe and have new lessons for you to learn. Until then, be prayerful in your desires and rejoice in where you are. Having a larger tribe increases fun, but it also increases responsibility and activity. And in harsh circumstances, drama. Times of quiet refresh the soul and prepare us for more.

Don’t be surprised if, on occasion, the Lord changes the dynamic of your tribe. (I think He likes to keep us on our toes.) At times the tribe will decrease, other times it will evolve in nature. On occasion, the Lord will have you step back from everything and regroup as a family. Keep Christ as your center and you can trust any change to be for the better.

As we struggle through our day-to-day activities, it helps knowing we have someone to share this journey with. May the Lord give us wisdom in selecting our friendships with care and grace to cultivate edifying relationships. And may we seek to be the iron which sharpens those we’re blessed to call family and friend.

“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.”
~ Proverbs 27:17

📢 Chime In!: What about your tribe inspires and helps you to be a better homeschool teacher/parent?

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Locked in a Closet

Friends and "Family"If you’ve ever come across the numerous blog posts written by ex-homeschooled kids, you will notice a trend. Generally speaking, the complaint lies in socialization. It seems they did not have enough friends, go on enough outings, or have the privilege of attending prom. To their way of thinking, they might as well have been locked in a closet.

While we’ve discussed the silly myth of socialization among homeschooled children, it does seem there is a certain percentage of children who are not enjoying enough interaction with other people.

As a parent who truly does want my children to enjoy meaningful friendships and have lifelong relationships, how then do I go about the act of socialization? I think there are numerous ways in which this can be accomplished:

  • Church
  • Sports
  • Co-ops
  • Family
  • Fellowship with Friends
  • Ministry Opportunities

I am sure the list could go on; however, I doubt it is necessary. To be honest, I believe opportunity is not the issue. There are more than enough venues to offer socialization if one simply makes an effort. Perhaps the problem lies somewhere deeper… a lack of relationship with our children.

As parents, it is our responsibility to pay attention to our children; to understand their needs and provide for them. If my children are expressing a desire for interaction and fellowship, it would behoove me to listen and help them in this area of development.

Is this going to mean a little more work for me? Possibly. Will this mean I might taxi people around a little bit? Perhaps. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely!

Through careful study of my children, I can begin to encourage and help forge those relationships which would be of benefit. With an observant eye, I want to offer plenty of opportunities for my littles to meet new people and build lasting friendships.

It doesn’t take a public school to socialize a child. It does take an involved parent with a heart to meet their children’s needs and guide them into meaningful fellowship.

Time to Chime In: How do you teach your children the fine art of socialization? Which venue has best met that need?

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?

Keepers #2 (2013-2014)

This week was our second Keepers meeting of the year. We laughed, we ate, and we got covered in freckles. It’s always a good afternoon with the girls.

Keepers #2 (1/11)

Doing devotion always starts things off right.

Keepers #2 (2/11)

Playing games with hula-hoops.

Keepers #2 (3/11)

More hula-hoop fun.

Keepers #2 (4/11)

Freckle fun with the mommies. Who has the most freckles?

Keepers #2 (5/11)

We laughed so hard; good, clean fun.

Keepers #2 (6/11)

Our “freckle juice”.

Keepers #2 (7/11)

My daughter looks like she has chicken pox, not freckles.

Keepers #2 (8/11)

Playing a fun game of tag with clothes pins.

Keepers #2 (9/11)

Choo-Choo Matching Games. What word do YOU have?

Keepers #2 (10/11)

Tell me your word; quick!

Keepers #2 (11/11)

Our birthday girls of the month.

Our meeting was a lot of fun. We started off with a short devotion on friendship. I was a little concerned about writing my own, but I found THIS neat website. I was able to find a beautiful devotion about developing friends.

It was then time for some outdoor fun, so we headed out onto the green and got busy. We played a few hula-hoop games, a freckle fun game, clothespin tag, and finally some group word games.

Oh, my! I think we had too much fun. (If that’s possible.) It certainly seemed to fly by though. Before we knew it, the day was over.

Two whole weeks before more fun commences!

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?

Game’s On!

One of the things we enjoy about our homeschool support group, is that it feels like family! Most support groups consist of just the younger kids and the mommies. Good luck getting high school kids to want to hang around and the dads are often not encouraged to participate. Not so, with our group!

Last night was our first game night of the year and it was a blast! We had games, fellowship, and loads of good desserts! The ladies took on the guys in a game of Guesstures and won!!

Battle PlansThe guys did a great job, but they were defeated by the ladies!

Showing Off

One of the dad’s showing us how it’s done!

It looks like this...

Our principal giving us some tips on how to play the game.

sWho Me?Some of the ladies enjoying some cake and fellowship!

Games

The large stack of games, some of which got played and some of which didn’t.

So soft

The bonus round for me was receiving this awesome blanket! One of the ladies had made it and didn’t know what to do with it?! So, she gave it to me!

Ah… I will be loving on this blanket for quite a while.

Play Things

The bonus round for my kiddos was receiving a large bag of marble track. My husband is excited to spend part of this evening setting this up with our son and watching him have a blast!

Oooo… the hours of fun this bag is going to give! We can’t wait!

All together, the night was spectacular. We had a great time visiting with our friends and relaxing. We love getting together with these guys; it is always a good time!

Do you have game nights with your homeschool friends? What is your favorite game to play as a group?

Dating Other People

TeaI try to make sure that I date my husband as often as possible, this keeps our marriage alive and kicking. I also try to date my kids, this helps us build our relationships. On occasion though, I like to date other people.

There is sanity in friendship and there are different ways to go about maintaining those relationships. We can talk on the phone, email, or even use Facebook and Twitter. However, I prefer to go out on a “date”. Sitting down, face to face, and enjoying the other person’s company.Coffee

I have had “dates” with all sorts of different friends and family members. Sometimes we sit and just have a cup of coffee; other times we plan an activity. It doesn’t matter the venue, as long as we are spending time together and having a good time.

I am always amazed at how much I learn from our time together. I learn not only about them, but about myself. I have grown tremendously because of the wisdom and life experiences that they have shared.

TeaTableSettingAs my children grow and develop their own friendships, I want to encourage them to do the same. Whenever possible, I try to arrange for them to have “dates” with their friends. We have done small tea parties, park days, and even excursions; opportunities for them to focus on their friendships.

One fun aspect of homeschooling is that we have a generous schedule, which allows us to accommodate other people’s time limits. There are dates that occur on weekends and just as many that happen during the week.

Unfortunately they can be few and far between, but we try to make them happen as often as possible. The important thing is that my children be taught to take time for relationships and not just responsibilities. That they remember people and not just things. Coffee

I am ashamed to say, the one person I probably haven’t gone on a date with, is my mother! Her schedule is more hectic than mine! However, she has expressed a desire. I think I need to give her a call, when she gets back from her latest trip, and make her set a date!

Do you ever “date” other people? What is one activity that you like to do together?