4 Moms Q&A: Life with littles, dating, happy helpers

4 Moms, 35 Kids

It’s the 4th Thursday of the month, and that’s the one where we 4 Moms bare our souls and our linen closets as we answer your questions about what really goes on in our heads, our hearts, and our homes.  Because I can’t seem to keep track of questions from month to month or even week to week, I’ve been asking what you want to know on Facebook the day before our Q&A posts.  Here are the questions I received.

Brianah Dodson asks, “What did your day look like when you had all littles? I have a one year old & two year old and I can’t seem to get much done during the day.”

Brianah, they were definitely busy times.  I have a dim recollection of the days blending together into one endless laundry/cooking/diaper-changing session.  My children remember far more about that time period than I do, probably because I lived in a constant state of sleep deprivation.  But they remember fun times, good times, loving family times and crazy sister times, and I’m glad to rely on their memories to replace what I have forgotten!

I wrote a little about what our days looked like back then in For Tired Young Mothers of Many.  Life With Littles was written to help and encourage those who are still in the trenches.  Maybe you’ll find some encouragement in them during this busy season of your life!

Savannah Perkins-Berniquez wonders,  “in what ways do your husbands help with homeschooling?”

Over the years, the way that Perry is involved in homeschooling has changed many times.  Sometimes he actually sat at the table and taught a subject.  Other times, he provided accountability outside of me by inquiring directly with the children or asking to see their work – “Did you do your math today?  Let’s see your writing.”  His love of history and grasp of the big picture has played a heavy part in developing theirs.  He often assigns books on various topics for the older girls to read, usually requiring a written report with each one.

I think the point isn’t really the specifics of what he does, but the fact that he is an interested, involved party in the process.  He realizes that he has a stake in what happens and is ultimately responsible for the education of the children even if the greatest portion of the daily job is delegated to me – or directly to the children as they get older.

More important than which subject(s) he teaches is the fact that he keeps our collective eye on the goal: he helps us remember the ultimate goal of Christian education so we all know what direction we’re heading.

Lori Dunn Browning says, “I have one that has come up recently at our house: what do you do [if] the bigs are burnt out on being happy helpers? I can see how this situation gets easier the more bigs you have, but right now I only have 2, & I feel like I ask a lot of them. They are always helpful but I also want them to have time to just be kids.”

Lori, I think this is a tricky question with two very important parts.

First, I think we moms need to let go of the guilt.  We all agree that it’s wonderful to play together as a family, but we feel guilty about requiring our children to work.  Society tells us that we are robbing our little ones of their childhood if we don’t let them spend their days in play, but what is society producing?  30 year old children who live in their parents’ basement, filling their days with video games.  There’s something horribly wrong with this picture.  That doesn’t mean our children’s lives should be full of never-ending chores with no time to play, but we are supposed to be training our children for adulthood, and it’s a big job.  They don’t need to practice at childishness; that part comes naturally.  We need to help them grow up and out of that childishness.  Work is an indispensable tool in that process.

Second, I think it’s important to use that tool properly.  Just making children work more will not create a good attitude or work ethic in them.  We want to teach our children that work is a good thing, not a drudgery.  We may not always enjoy it, but the Bible teaches us that in all labor there is profit.  Our children are more likely to be happy helpers if we are working along with them rather than watching from the sidelines (guilty!).  They also need to see us working joyfully.  In short, we need to set the sort of example we want them to follow: diligent work with a good attitude.  And a little reward for a job well done isn’t a bad idea…

Maryjo Jones Miller wants to know, “now that you have older girls how do you and your husband handle them dating?”

Maryjo, Perry and I only recently started dating.  😉

Seriously, we don’t plan for our children to participate in “normal” dating because God holds us responsible for our daughter’s purity.  But don’t jump to the conclusion that our children are doomed to a lonely and celibate existence.  Our children – including our teen daughters – have healthy friendships with people of all ages, including more than a few members of the opposite sex.  They interact frequently in various group settings, never far from adults who know them.

When it comes to one-on-one dating, we think this should be reserved for engaged couples, and even then it’s hardly “normal”: they will do 99% of their interacting in a church or family setting, i.e. in and among people who know them.  On the rare occasion when they go somewhere else, they will take a chaperon with them.

I love Voddie Baucham’s thoughts on dating.

Elizabeth took a chance and emailed her question: I was wondering what you are planning on doing as far as a high school diploma?  Our state allows Home Schoolers to make out their own diploma and we seem to have had no trouble with that being accepted.  Is that what you plan on doing as well?

Elizabeth, we’ll make our own.  There are plenty of ways to print out a diploma, and as a homeschool graduate I have *never* been asked to present my diploma anyway, nor have any of our friends run into problems – even when enrolling their children in various colleges and universities.  The more widespread homeschooling becomes, the less these questions matter as others become accustomed to working with homeschoolers.

The other moms are trying to satisfy your curiosity too:

Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

  • February 2 – Scriptures and/or stories we rely on for comfort/encouragement as a homeschooling family

Recent topics:

About 4 Moms, including a complete list of all past topics


  1. Lamborghini Testarossa? LOL, excellent video though, even if he won’t have to worry about gear heads dating his daughter 😉

  2. For all who are interested in the dating issue, this is another REALLY GREAT video done by a pastor. Check it out!!

  3. I would encourage anyone wondering about transcripts and diplomas to look into where their child would like to pursue future education and or occupations. Two of my sons needed to show a diploma and a daughter and son needed to show a transcript. One son went into law enforcement and they declined a homeschool student with a “scrapbook/homemade” looking transcript, but made a comment that my son’s was professional looking. Sometimes we have to work with the system to help our kids get ahead. We bought the diplomas HSLDA sells and had a good friend use calligraphy to fill in the blanks.

  4. Thank you for posting that video on dating. I posted it to my blog as well. My kids are still young, but that’s the perfect time to think about such things and to formulate a “dating mindset”, if you will. I started dating at 15, so these thoughts are fairly new to me.

  5. Alanna N. says:

    Aching for you to post about what the setup is for your older girls’ clothes 🙂

  6. I echo Mish’s comment. I will be showing the video to my two teens.

  7. Ok I missed the question time on face book, but I’ve been wanting to ask this for a while:

    When you are tired…and you need one of your children to come do what ever…
    Do you manage to call the child you need or do you list the whole farm before the right one hears his name? Gosh , I only have 6 but I seem to come up with 10 more names (brat and slob aren’t in my current vocabulary -I promise!) before I screech, “what ever darling you are, pick up your paper cutting mess!”

    Am I vitamin deficient or something?

    • My dad only had 4, and he would run through all the names, plus my mothers name, and sometimes a few extra!

    • I imagine you are sleep deprived! My children are getting older now (my youngest is 5) so I am getting more sleep, but I never quite recovered. It may now be a quirk that your children will come to love. 😉

  8. Thanks for that bit on dating. I had tears in my eyes at the end of it. I wish my parents had felt that way. I’ll be showing it to my two teenage sons when they get home…because regardless of how “I” was raised, I want them to see girls/women in a far better and more Godly light.

  9. I just wanted to throw in an extra point for Lori, with her two big helpers feeling burnt out.

    Be careful not to underestimate your little ones. I was the eldest of 4 growing up, and mum assigned me plenty of chores. I have no problem with that. What was a problem is that, chores my sister and I learnt to do when we were 7 and 6 were still our chores on top of other chores when we were 14 and 13 and the younger set were 9 and 8 and deemed still ‘too young’ to do chores. Now this is an entirely different mentality, I’m sure your kids are doing chores long before they’re 8 and 9, but the idea is there, is there anything you’re asking of your elder two that could actually be taught to a younger child? Perhaps it’s time for a couple of new ‘apprentices’, to allow the older ones to move onto more mature chores.

    • Abba, great advice! This reminds me of my very good friend Mother Hen. She makes a practice of asking herself, “Who is the youngest child that can do this job?”

    • I can relate to this one! I was the second of four, and my younger sisters were always a few years behind my older sister and me in chores, as well as other responsibility issues. I think this has a lot to do with there not being any more children coming along behind who would replace the youngest. I’m sure I will make some mistakes like this with my kids, but it’s my plan to be cognizant of it so I won’t be always exasperating my children. 🙂

  10. MaryJo,
    when I met my spouse, I was serving at a prolife banquet, with several friends. We talked, and then God laid it on my heart to get to know him better. Later the opportunity came for us both to attend a Christmas party. Again, with friends. We talked and got to know each other then. Several more opportunities presented itself for us to talk, each time we were not alone. When the time came, he asked me to pray about getting married, then he talked to my Dad. (key) Then he proposed. It really all seemed very natural. Different, YES! but, natural.

  11. I would like to share a little tidbit I keep in mind that pertains to Lori’s question about avoiding burn-out in the older ones. (My children are 16, 14, 12, 11, 9, 7, 5) When I delegate tasks, I ask myself before automatically calling the oldest, “Who is the youngest child that can handle this task?” I will sometimes assign a task that is a little difficult and encourage them to “do hard things.” I also have to remember to appreciate all cheerful effort and not expect everything to be done perfectly.

  12. I understand your answer but how do they go about getting engaged them? Is there a special way for them to meet there future spouse?

    • Marjorie, it’s entirely possible that some of them have already met their future spouses and count them among their friends.

      • is it safe to say that an engagement could come pretty quickly once the couple feel it in there heart.

        • maryjo,
          My apologies for the short answer earlier. I was typing on my phone. I also got struck by auto-correct, so you came out as Marjorie!
          Perry and I plan to do a post about courtship and engagement soon so hopefully that will answer more of your questions. You might want to look at our own story for one example of how it can work out in real life: http://inashoe.com/2005/11/boy-meets-girl/
          In the meantime, the short answer is yes: engagement could happen very quickly when it’s a boy we know well and both parties are good friends. As I mentioned, our daughters have many friends of the opposite sex, and it’s not hard to imagine one of them approaching my husband to ask permission to court one of our daughters. At that point, if we were convinced he was good “husband material” and our daughter was ready for marriage, courtship could simply be a matter of them getting to know each other more thoroughly with marriage in mind. If they and their parents were convinced that they were a good match, they could become engaged just long enough to plan a wedding.
          Of course there are many, many variables and we don’t assume that everything will go perfectly or according to plans. It could take much longer for any number of reasons. That’s just one example to hold you until we have a post on the subject. 🙂

          • looking forward to reading that future post and I was wondering what was with the Majorie LOL

          • do you allow your children to use social media to communicate as the way you and perry did it is now absolite?

          • Our 4 oldest are on Facebook, though they do ask for our permission before adding friends. But what’s obsolete about writing letters, talking on the phone, and interstate flights?

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