By AK Fielding
Homeschooling can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges—socializing being one of them. There are scores of books written about socialization for homeschool children, but what about socialization for the homeschooling parent? If you already have friends or relatives nearby, then you are indeed blessed. For the rest of us, meeting people for the sake of friendship can be a daunting task.
The Bible notes, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-14). Clearly, God meant us to have friends. To find true friendship in life, is to have found a true gem. Yet, most of us are too busy to meet new people, much less develop long-lasting friendships. Lack of time can become a hurdle for homeschooling parents too. Often we are so deeply involved in taking care of our families we neglect devoting any time to meaningful friendships.
Moreover, many of us may have the time, but not the inclination to make friends. Let’s face it, not everyone is a social butterfly. How many awkward moments can you remember from your childhood where your offer of friendship was ignored, or worse, ridiculed? In a social media frenzied world, we may all be able to show we have “friends,” but how many of them are truly the friends we seek or even want? Indeed, how many of them would hold up well against the biblical definition of friend referenced in the Bible?
The idea of finding true friends may sound disheartening, but God provides us with the means to form true friendships if we simply trust in Him and make an effort. Here are a few practical ways to make yourself available for friendship:
Begin with a smile and make eye contact with others. As simple as this sounds, it is often the most overlooked behavior when we are in public. Many of us are so preoccupied with things we need to do that we rush about our day without realizing we missed an opportunity to offer someone a quick smile or a warm greeting. Did you make eye contact and compliment the cashier when you were paying for the groceries? Did you smile and hold the door open at the restaurant for the other lady behind you? Did you reciprocate when someone else smiled or greeted you? What messages are you sending out by your expression and demeanor to others who may want to approach you for possible friendship?
Extend yourself to help others. It is easy to hibernate in your own private world. It is cozy, safe, and familiar, but it can also quickly become lonely and depressing. Instead, try to get to know people. Begin at your church, your neighborhood, homeschooling events, and other community functions. If you are unable to find events in your area, create one of your own. Do you love books? Offer to host a book club once a week. Are you knowledgeable about a subject? Hold a weekend workshop for cooking, sewing, woodworking, art, exercise, crafts, writing, knitting, home decorating, or landscaping. Do you have a few hours a week to teach other homeschooling students? Begin teaching a class and take the opportunity before and after the meeting to get to know the other parents.
Life is about improvising and homeschoolers excel at it. Getting out of our comfort zone and approaching others may be difficult—even scary at times—but, with God’s grace, it is possible. Your next smile may bring you a friendship that lasts a lifetime. It certainly is worth a try.
AK Fielding is an historian, painter, writer, illustrator, and homeschool educator. You can view her Cottage Shop at http://akfielding.mollygreenshops.com/ and read her writings on history at http://akfielding.blogspot.com/.