Tag Archive | friends

Navigating friends and Foes!

Friendships are fragile things. Kids inevitably make them and break them, whether they’re in school or home

Two pigeons deciding whether to be friends!

Two pigeons deciding whether to be friends!

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!

Still speaking…!

Will the children still be speaking to me when they’re older?

I used to wonder this sometimes – you do so worry when you’re a a parent!

And when irrational fear really got hold I could imagine even worse scenarios: what if they grow to hate me? What if they think I’m absolutely mad for taking them out of school? What if they never forgive me for what I’ve done to them?

I guess these questions sneak through many a parent’s mind, most particularly home educating parents. Please tell me it’s not just me!

So I thought I’d tell you not to worry because they do – they are still speaking. In fact both of the girls at different times have told me I’m among their best friends. And considering they do have great friends – yep; people still have friends even though they don’t go to school! – I rate that as a great honour.

We’re still the family team we ever were, described in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’. Amazingly those two little girls in there are now grown up, confident, competent and, of course beautiful, young women.

I’ve been talking to some other grown up home educated young people recently and one mentioned the family unity she felt through home educating, where you all pulled together rather than apart, like some of her friends seem to. In fact, I don’t know any home educating family who have ended up like my worse scenarios, so no need to worry!

Our team still loves spending time together. We still have a good giggle. We talk about everything and anything. We share much. Of course we’re still speaking!

And I’m going away tomorrow to share a few days with my eldest so it will go quiet on here for a while. She and I will be busy gabbing and catching up and the only interruptions allowed will probably be caused by cake! 🙂

New best friends

A serious moment – there won’t be many of those!

I’m getting to see one of my two newest and bestest friends next week and I’m as over excited as a little child. Because she also happen to be one of my daughters.

Your children can be your best friends too. That’s a lovely thought isn’t it; that you’re not only raising children you’re raising new best friends!

That doesn’t mean cloying or possessive relationships – best friends are not like that anyway. It’s just about relationships and you’re sowing the seeds and building the skills for good ones right from when they’re tiny.

While many parents – and teachers too – often want to be the best friends of the children they are looking after, they sometimes forget what it is about friends that makes them so, what makes for that special relationship.

Sometimes it’s interpreted as all give and no take – that’s not a healthy way to forge relationships. Sometimes it’s misunderstood as making the other feel all-important to the sacrifice of the self – that’s not right either. Some people think that if they always give in to what the other demands it will secure friendships – nope!

That special relationship – in fact all relationships – are built around reciprocation. They’re two-way. Both give and take.

Take respect. Respect is essential in relationships. But it has to be mutual – demanded as well as given. This happens through behaviour. We have to behave in ways that others will respect – always – no short cuts. And we show respect for others if they behave in ways that command it. That’s important whether those others are adults or children.

And this mutuality works whatever it is we are giving and receiving within a relationship; with compassion and empathy, loyalty and support, understanding and trust, honesty and communication. All these are fundamental to good relationships, to good parenting, to good friends. They’re all necessary for relationships to properly work.

And they are demonstrated by the way you behave towards your children and the way in which you guide them to behave towards you and others. Everyone is as equal and important as each other in relationships. It’s never about competition or being boss or one-up. It’s a mutual demonstration of behaviour.

The other thing this approach will show your kids as well as how to be best friends, whether that’s to you or others, is how much they are valued.

Your children will feel as valued and important by having the chance to return that love and support and friendship you give, as they will receiving it. Children feel valued by knowing what they give to you, as well as by what they receive. You’ll know for yourself as an adult that it is lovely having friends you can turn to, but it’s also a lovely feeling knowing that you are a valued and trusted friend to someone else.

These things show children how to be good friends to others, an important part of their progress towards happy and enduring relationships. And one day they might become your best friend too. How lovely will that be!

It is – take it from me!

And I’m off next week to spend some time with one of mine. Hugs will be shared, chat will be endless and cake will be involved! Here’s wishing the same for you one day too!