Dear Laurie,

I wonder if I could bother you to answer a few questions. One is with visiting the nursing home. This summer I took my 11-year-old daughter, 8-year-old son, 4-year-old daughter and 21-month-old son to the nursing home a few times. My oldest does not want to go back there, ever! The people can’t hear her when she talks, and they ask questions she doesn’t like to answer. Should I go back with the other three children, and leave her home. My oldest also does not want to go to the library during the day, because “school kids” aren’t there. The town is a small one, and we are different. I am worried about her. I know you must have heard this before, but I feel I am the worst homeschool parent out there. We moved here three summers ago and Nicole or I have not found any homeschool friends in the area. There are three homeschool groups that are all about an hour away. I tried to go to the activities last year, but N….. is lonelier than ever. She did have one public school friend who was living with her Grandma, but now moved back with her Mom, many hours away. That was the one friend she had! Please give us a word of encouragement, we so desperately need it! We have always homeschooled and want to continue, but just lately little doubts begin whispering in my ear. My husband was so frustrated last week he mentioned the public school! We think our children are “behind” because I get so little school in each day. The younger children seem to take up so much of my time.


Does she not like to go to the nursing home and library because school kids aren’t there and she wants to socialize with these kids? I am going to suggest something radical to you. I can only say these things because my kids are grown, and I’ve gone through these problems, too. I assume from your letter that your daughter likes to be around other kids. She feels lonely. She doesn’t particularly like to play with her siblings. Perhaps she even would like to go to public school. I would suggest that children of the ages of your children need very little socialization. In fact I would avoid it, except for occasional times when you might have another family over to visit and your kids play with their kids. This idea that every kid needs another kid of his same age to play with is an idea perpetuated by the government schools and by the social engineers. And we all know how their ideas have turned out! I would instead get her involved with crocheting, knitting, sewing, and other arts and crafts work. Perhaps she can make things to give away, or sell as a business (don’t worry about making bunches of money). My girls made costumes. They started out long ago by making costumes for their dolls. The first things they made were rather crude, but later they became skilled at exact replicas of antique clothing. Teach her to cook. An 11-year-old girl is perfectly capable of cooking an entire meal, from start to finish. Perhaps you could buy or have someone make her a hope chest. Then she could work at filling it. Does your family garden? Raising food and storing up for the winter is a profitable use of time for young ones. Is she good at drawing or painting? She could produce little booklets on a variety of subjects (birds, dogs, flowers, etc.) to sell or give away. You could incorporate this in with her school work. She needs to get busy doing things for others and worry less about her own comforts. We all need to do this, myself included.

I don’t know if this is happening to your daughter, but I thought I’d write about it anyway. Perhaps you don’t have this problem with her. Around age 10-11 girls start to go through a phase — I don’t know what it is, maybe it has to do with hormones. They get to be hard to get along with. When this happened with my first daughter many years ago I didn’t know what was going on, and I let her rebellion, uncommunicativeness, coldness, and moodiness go without correcting it. I didn’t understand what was happening. I just kept trying to please her. I just kept thinking I wasn’t a very good mom. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. She always seemed so unhappy and out of sorts. Finally, when she was about 16 or so the Lord showed me what to do, and we got things worked out, but I had to go through about five years of heartache. I guess I had to go through that so I would know by experience what it is I really needed to do.

May I make some suggestions? Don’t allow her to show disrespect to you or her daddy. If she does, she needs to be disciplined. She is still quite young and can be easily molded. When she does something or says something that doesn’t set right with you but you are wondering if you should let it go or discipline for it, ask yourself this question: Am I satisfied with her behavior? If the answer is no, then you should take action. There are all kinds of ways a child can show disrespect. The rolling of the eyes, the exasperated sighing, the delay in obeying, the questioning, the stalking out of a room and slamming doors, the uncommunicating attitude. I think the key to this is that you must keep communicating with her. Often you must force them to talk with you and tell you what is wrong. Sometimes I had to insist that my daughter sit on the couch with me till she told me what was bothering her. Sometimes we would have to sit there for several hours. And, do you know what, many times it all boiled down to the fact that she just felt irritable and didn’t even have a reason for it. In which case she learned to recognize and repent of her irritability and moodiness and disrespect. Of course, all this led me to recognize that I as the mother have to be a good example for her. I also must learn to recognize and repent of any irritability and such on my part.

Your children are quite young yet. You have plenty of time for academics. The most important things right now are to get good discipline established in your home with a firm (but not rigid) schedule of family worship, eating and sleeping, work, play, service, and the academics appropriate for their ages. And don’t forget the reading aloud! That’s the best part.

You have actually done the hardest part already. You have recognized that there is a problem and are willing to find a solution. I believe the Lord showed you that.


  1. Tonya


    I just have to second everything you said! Eleven can be so difficult at times, but one of the most difficult things is seeing our own failings in our children’s behaviors. So many things I need to work on myself have come to light as I help my own daughter grow into the young lady she needs to be.

    Just an aside: my eleven year old has a baking business and bakes whole wheat bread that she sells at the farmer’s market each week. She grinds the wheat as well. From this venture and others, she has friends of all ages, from her 86 year old harp teacher to the babies that come each week to church and the market. We don’t have “play dates” with other families and we don’t attend homeschool group activities either. Keeping our children busy with real activities (by that I mean activities that are needed in life)give them a full, happy life.


  2. Marsha

    What a great post, Laurie! I think this would be applicable to both boys and girls. Wow, that’s a lot to think about. You are definitely right, they need to keep busy and do not “need” kids their own age, especially when they have a perfectly good family to fellowship with at home.

  3. Beth

    This is a wonderful post. I am so glad I came across it. I am going through a similiar experience with my dd13 who is an only child. I was feeling rather guilty because I know some of her negative behavior is coming from her ‘friends’. I keep reading that separate from ‘friends’ is OK, but I felt guilty in actually doing it because she is an only child. After reading this article and seeing what she could be *doing* with her time, I am convinced that this is our solution. Thanks to the mom that wrote to you, and to you for the beautiful answer you gave. Since it is almost Christmas and we are going out of town, this is a perfect opportunity to begin the separation. A chance to change our lifestyle for the better.



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