Ways of meeting new people, and making friends with some of them, are through joining scout groups, youth groups at church, sports teams through the youth center, and special interest clubs (such as the ski clubs or Volksmarch groups) that are popular in European military communities. If siblings join the group together, in classes such as a ballet or horseback riding class, they are bolstered by their togetherness and may not present as much of a ‘new kid target of opportunity’ for either exclusion or bullying. The children’s security decreases the ‘fear signals’ that bullies pick up on; there is safety in numbers.
Homeschooling support groups are another source of acquaintances-that-might-become-friends. We often forget that the grand majority of people we meet don’t develop into ‘friends,’ but remain of the acquaintance type. Not every woman in the installation women’s or spouses’ club will become friends and not all men in the Tuesday Night Men’s Bowling League will bond. Likewise, your kids may not choose to befriend all of the children at the homeschool get-togethers, but there may be a special one or two who either ‘click’ or who will share an interest. In any case, none of the support-group kids will call your children ‘those weird homeschool kids.’
Homeschool group outings are a good way to get out-and-about with like-minded people, and fast friendships may develop, but don’t pressure your kids to ‘make friends’ just for the sake of saying they’re properly socialized. Today’s popularity contest style of human interaction, however ‘normal’ it may seem, isn’t the only way to have relationships with other people. One need only look back at stories such as Little Women to see either small-group friendship or ‘homeschool sibships.’
Installation housing areas are another source of potential friends. Unlike civilian neighborhoods where your neighbor might be the retired mayor of the town, an elderly widow or a young man who bought a ‘starter house’ with an eye to the future, the people living in government quarters are, by and large, families. Childless couples may live in quarters and senior members whose children are grown may also choose on-post or on-base living, but they are in the minority. Families whose children are still infants may be your neighbors but, on the whole, there are kids everywhere. With luck some of those kids are friend material.
Copyright 2006, Valerie Bonham Moon
This work may be copied and distributed for free as long as the copyright and this notice are included.