Friendships are fragile things. Kids inevitably make them and break them, whether they’re in school or home
educated. And whatever age they are. We adults do too, don’t we?
I read a little paragraph the other day in a random book which had nothing to do with parenting or home education but said that by keeping children clubbed together we are blocking them from learning what it is to be grown up.
I thought about all the children clubbed together in classrooms when I read that. Especially in comparison with those who are home educating in the wider world, with a high proportion of adults from whom to learn what it is to be adult and how to behave towards others with respect and compassion.
Ironic then, that people ask how home schooled kids will learn social skills! And continue to think that schools and classrooms do this. When in fact they don’t reflect the social world at all really.
Wherever your child is and whatever groups they belong to the hardest thing for a parent is to watch a child be hurt by friends. We torture ourselves with the thought of them on the receiving end of unkindness, being left out, or hostility.
It’s something we have to talk them through and help them deal with by encouraging honesty, diplomacy and compassion. Our own example will teach them most of all – you can’t tell them one thing and then behave differently yourself.
Looking back over our children’s lives, and the times they’ve had to deal with some of the ways so-called friends behave, I was thinking about how we helped them navigate these difficult times. Thought I’d post them here in case any are of use to you. Here they are:
- Staying on their side – always – even through inevitable mistakes
- Always making relationships something you talk openly about
- Helping them see we are all different and there will be things we don’t like about each other and that’s okay; sometimes we can tolerate them or compromise, sometimes it’s not worth it
- Making time to listen
- Encouraging empathy towards how others might be feeling and why this might affect their behaviour
- Explaining that some friendships may need abandoning
- Helping them move away from accusation, recrimination and blame, which never helps you to move on
- Making sure our own relationships with our kids are based in honesty and respect, loyalty and trust, as this is the example of good ones they’ll hopefully have with others.
Friendships are magnificent, important, and where our security lies as much as anything. But it is inevitable that there will be times when they go sour. This is nothing to do with schools or home educating or parenting, it is just to do with human nature. We found that keeping an open dialogue with our children was the best way to support them and help them through.
It still is!