4 Moms Q&A: courtship, dental bills, and 40,000 diapers

4 Moms, 35 Kids

This week’s 4 Moms topic is Q&A.  Specifically, that means your Q’s, and my A’s, although it might be fun to reverse that every now and then.

I asked on Facebook Wednesday afternoon what you wanted to know, and here are the questions I received:

Q. I want to know about your kids and the Bible…not sure exactly what, but wondering about them and reading/understanding/applying.

Most of our children who can read well have read the Bible at least once on their own.  The teens have all read it several times.  While we don’t always read together, the Bible is a constant foundation in how we see the world, analyze issues, and develop our own opinions and positions.  It is a part of nearly any discussion that arises, from firearms to family, parenting to politics, history to health, books to birth control, discipline to demographics.

I apologize for the abundance of alliteration, but when the Bible is connected to everything, the possibilities are positively panoptic.

We interrupt this program for a special announcement: the 4 Moms ebook is now available for your Kindle from the Amazon Kindle store!!!  Get it here: 4 Moms of 35+ Kids Answer Your Parenting Questions. More coolness: we’re currently #49 in the Parenting category!

If you already own either version of the book, we would LOVE for you to pop over to Amazon and write a review.

We’ve come up with a creative solution for those who already bought the ebook but wish they had waited for the Kindle, and we have a treat for those who
are among the first to buy the Kindle version.  For further details see The Common Room, but hurry, because this offer ends Saturday night at 7.P.M. Central Time.

Now we return to our regularly scheduled 4 Moms post.


Q. Courtship! What model of dating/courtship did you and your husband follow and what do y’all desire for your children.

I shared the story of how Perry and I met in Boy Meets Girl.  While it was far from traditional dating, I don’t think it was exactly courtship either although it was our parents’ idea long before we thought of it. We learned much from our own experience and hope to do things a little differently with our children, but we’ll have to see what situations and possibilities God lays before us.

Our greatest desire is to protect them from temptation as they seek to live their lives for God’s glory.  We want to help them find spouses without “practicing divorce” by having a series of romantic interests or relationships.

In our ideal scenario, a family friend whom we have known over time will express an interest in one of our daughters.  Because we know him and possibly his family very well, we will know whether this is a good idea and will have a good idea of whether he is ready for marriage, how his strengths and weaknesses might complement those of the daughter in question, etc.  If he is ready and we consider our daughter to be ready, we would present the idea to our daughter.  If she liked the possibility, we would encourage him to spend more time in our home, her in his family’s home, and our two families together.  We would make an active effort to get know him more and let them get to know each other on a more personal level.  Soon, we would hope to know if the two are compatible and want to get married.  This would be something of a joint decision that we hope both sets of parents and both young people and even their pastor(s) would all agree upon.  If so, engagement would be short and sweet – just long enough to plan a wedding.  Then they would live happily ever after.

Of course we can’t count on everything fitting neatly into our ideal scenario and there are endless possible variations that could work just as nicely, but it’s good to have a plan from which to start, don’t you think?

Q. How do you cover the dental bills?

We have a group policy with United Healthcare through Perry’s employer, but I just got an online quote and it looks like our policy only costs about 25% more when you purchase as an individual.  Unlike medical insurance, dental insurance is quite affordable and an excellent investment if you’re the type to have regular cleanings, x-rays, etc.  The price of the policy we use doesn’t change for a big family even though there are proportionately more claims, and I feel confident that UH is losing money on us.  From our side, that’s good.

Since I have had a propensity to cavities all my life (and a couple of the kids seem to have inherited my weak enamel) we do regular cleanings, sealants, etc. for the entire family and it all costs very little out of pocket aside from our monthly premium.

Recently we’ve become aware of the idea that teeth, like the rest of the body, may be capable of healing, but this is entirely new territory and we’re far from giving up our semiannual cleanings.  We haven’t really even begun to look into it, although I know that the name Weston A. Price comes up a lot when people are discussing these things.  What do you think of the theory?  Sensible, quackery, or are you withholding judgment until you know more?

Q. How do you deal with squabbles between the older kids and the younger kids. There’s 10 years between my 2 and big brother gets fed up with little brother following him around and talking so much.

I would be really curious to hear my kids’ view of this and see how it matches up with my view of what I do.

I think I try to stay out as much as possible, encouraging them to settle disputes peacefully and patiently, especially when it’s older ones complaining about younger ones.  They all remember being the little ones who wanted to tag along with older children, and I try to remind them while little ones may sometimes seem like an annoyance, the best way to help them become less annoying is to include them and give them every possible chance to hone their immature social skills.  Too often “annoying” little kids are simply little kids left to their own foolishness and immaturity, instead of being influenced by the older people in their lives.

I also remind them to treat the little ones as they would want to be treated.  Would they like it if I just told them to go away and leave me alone?  Wouldn’t it hurt their feelings if I acted as if I didn’t enjoy or appreciate their company, or if I had no interest in what they wanted to tell me?

Finally, when the older ones have company or a special reason that it might be best for the little ones to be scarce (a new calligraphy set, for example), I simply tell the little ones that it’s time to let the older one(s) have some private time.  When an older one wants to be left alone constantly and wants nothing to do with younger ones, that can signal a problem, but as long as a person is kind about it and uses the privilege sparingly, there’s nothing wrong with a little private time.

Q. How much do you step in when your kids bicker?

When it comes to bickering among peers, again trying to stay out of the dispute and encourage them to settle it peacefully.  This time, though, my line is a little different:

“Are you sure you want me to help settle this?”  Imagine me saying that in a slow, ominous voice.

If 2 older children can’t settle a dispute over a piece of clothing or whose turn it is to use the computer or who should clean up the lotion that somebody left out and the toddler spilled on somebody else’s bed, I’m creative.   I can always come up with a quick and easy solution that will encourage them to seek a peaceful resolution next time.

Q. Have you ever had a child who didn’t want to be homeschooled? If so how did you address it?

As 2nd generation homeschoolers with a wide circle of homeschooling friends and acquaintances, we managed to thoroughly indoctrinate our children against institutionalized government schooling from a very young age.

We teach our children from an early age to understand that there is no such thing as neutrality in education.  All education is intrinsically religious, because in order to impart knowledge we must first decide what we know and how we know it.  The source of that definition tells who your god is – or who an institution’s god is.  There may be Christian teachers inside the system, but they do not have the freedom to change the nature of the system itself.

If this seems harsh, I recommend watching Indoctrination: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America.

Q. How many kids have you had in diapers at once?  The DHM has shared she once had 3. I have had 3 for a while, as well, but 2 full-time, and 1 at night.

I’ve had it easy.  If you count nighttime, I almost had 3 in diapers at one point, but have never actually had more than 2.  I’ve also never had one baby potty trained before the next came along, so I’ve been doing diapers constantly for almost 19 years – not to mention helping with my siblings’ diapers for about 11 years before that.

My older children help a lot with diapers now, but nevertheless I estimate that I have personally changed well over 40,000 diapers on my own children.  That’s most or all of the first 6 children, plus half of the last 4 children, based on potty training at 28 months, nighttime dryness at 3yo, and a very conservative estimate of 6 diapers/day – accurate for a toddler or an older baby, but very low for a younger baby.  We could probably bump the guess to 50,000 and still be in safe territory.

Q.  How do you handle a child screaming/yelling NO! after being disciplined?! (spanked) Spank more or wait for “sincere” restitution?

The 4 Moms have posted in the past about parenting styles, and you might find it helpful to have several viewpoints on the subject, but here is my reaction to the specific situation you described: Yelling “NO!” sounds like outright rebellion and a sure indication that you are not done disciplining yet.  That doesn’t necessarily mean more swats (though it certainly could) but the goal of discipline is repentance and reconciliation, and it’s clear that we aren’t there yet if our children are angry.

But anger can have more than one cause, and it helps to get at the root of it.

If a child is angry, often they feel that the discipline was unwarranted or undeserved.  It may be helpful to review their sin and why they are being corrected.  Do they understand how they violated God’s law, and a parent’s duty to raise up children in the fear and admonition of the Lord?  Do they understand that they didn’t simply make you mad; they disobeyed God when He said, “Honor thy parents” (or whatever commandment they broke)?

They also need to understand forgiveness.  Depending on the circumstances, hardness often disappears when they are required to go to the one they offended and ask forgiveness.  Sometimes an angry attitude comes from believing that others are angry at them.

If you are dealing with a very young one, the rules are still the same though the reasoning may need to be taken down a level.  I might tell a recalcitrant toddler, “Don’t be mad at Mom.  You obey.”  Then I might follow up with another swat if I still see a bad attitude.

Every child is different, and I can’t begin to tell you how to discipline yours, of course – and again, not all discipline is spanking.  The goal is to shepherd their hearts, not just achieve outward compliance, and for that they must be on the same page with you.  Anger means they are not.

Here’s what the other 3 moms say:

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  1. Beside the Weston Price Foundation, which is great, we also follow this resource for natural tooth healing: http://www.curetoothdecay.com/

    I honestly don’t know how well it works for re-calcifying and healing severely decayed teeth yet, as we have not been doing this long enough or consistently enough to tell, but we are definitely noticing health benefits. And my daughter’s teeth seem to be doing very well with it.

  2. I thought your comment about teeth healing themselves was interesting. Until the last year, I have had no cavities in my adult teeth. Last year I had a new baby… my gums had swelled during pregnancy and then I experienced some recession in them. When the gum line dropped, I could see what looked like decay. However, when I went to see my dentist, after her exam she said that the affected area was hard and not tacky– “This has recalcified,”she said. Of course, it is more vulnerable than areas that still have thick enamel, so they will watch it closely. Good diet and hygiene is the best prevention.
    Our dentist also sells something called “MI Paste.” It is a topical paste with bio-available calcium and phosphate… dab a small amount on areas that need strengthening after you have thoroughly brushed and your teeth can absorb the minerals. This is good to use on areas that have gum recession, where there is no enamel.
    According to this article: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/03/reversing-tooth-decay.html foods rich in phytic acid prevent our bodies from absorbing the minerals necessary for the long term health of our teeth and bones. So, I guess the sourdough we’ve been using for the last year is great becasue it deactivates the phytic acid!! 🙂

  3. David E. says:

    Greetings from a previously home schooled dental student (2 weeks to graduation, yay!). My wife reads your blog and was asking me about the dental regeneration discussed in the articles you linked to. The good news is that teeth can repair themselves, but the bad news is that ability is limited.
    Cavities occur when the plaque (bacteria accumulated on your teeth) dissolve away the hard minerals in your teeth by releasing acid. The primary culprit is called strep. mutans and it has a nasty ability to take any sugar or carbohydrates that you eat and convert them into acid, which dissolves away your tooth. The more frequently you eat sugar or starchy foods, the more frequently you feed the bacteria and decrease the pH in your mouth below the critical pH of 5.5.
    Fortunately, as long as the outer enamel layer of your tooth is intact (ie has not cavitated, or developed a hole), the minerals in your tooth can be replaced. Calcium and phosphorus in your diet are important, but the major player in remineralization is fluoride. This fluoride comes from your drinking water, your toothpaste, mouthrinses, or with a fluoride application at your dentist. When enamel that has had minerals leached out by acid attack from bacteria is exposed to fluoride, it will harden again and the fluoride protects it from being dissolved again.
    So, as long as your tooth has not developed a hole, “a cavity,” it can still repair itself. Some practical advice on how to help this process is to limit the frequency of your exposure to sugar and starchy foods and increase your exposure to fluoride. Make sure you are brushing twice a day (morning and right before bed) and if you prone to cavities consider rinsing with a fluoride rinse like Listerine Total Care during the middle of the day. Another little trick if you have all your permanent teeth is to not rinse your mouth after brushing. Just spit the toothpaste out and then spit a couple more times. You’ll probably hate the gritty feeling at the beginning, but you are keeping the fluoride on your teeth much longer that way. Don’t let your kids do this though because they can get fluorosis in their permanent teeth.
    Now to the bad news. The part about secondary dentin in the articles on Google is misleading. Once your tooth has cavitated (ie developed a hole in the surface), it no longer has the ability to repair itself. Once the enamel surface has broken, there is no surface to remineralize. Secondary dentin is real, but it is only formed on the very inner surface of the tooth next to the pulp, not on the outer layer of enamel and dentin where your tooth is being eaten away by acid from the bacteria. Left untreated, a cavity that has broken through the surface of your tooth will eventually dissolve and decay all the way through your enamel and dentin and will then infect and kill the pulp of your tooth. Once your pulp is infected and dies, you can develop an abscess or chronic infection at the end of your root that can be life threatening and extremely painful. At this point, the only treatment is a root canal or extraction. All this can be avoided if you get the cavity filled while it is still small before it gets to the pulp of your tooth.
    Well, I hope that was as helpful as it was long. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.

  4. I’m glad to hear you don’t just spank until the child has ‘broken down’, I’ve seen families like this, it breaks my heart, and eventually it either breaks the childs spirit or breaks the families relationships. It’s taken me some time to show my husband that spanking, while an important dicipline tool, is not the only form of dicipline or even a complete form of dicipline. And some children don’t respond to it near as well as others. Spanking worked well to teach me, but my sister? She was happy to accept a spanking, and did wrong despite knowing the concequences, so other methods had to be employed with her.

  5. Leslie B says:

    Thanks for answering the last one! We *try* and do everything you mentioned, but of course our children are still sinners, not fixed by one episode of swats or instruction. I agree that anger lies in their feeling that punishment was undeserved. We explain over and over but their self-righteousness still is at large, so to say. 😀 So I’m encouraged to hear your response and will simply “persevere” and pray more more more. Hoping to see more fruit over the years!!!

  6. I had a lot of dental fillings (still do), and some of my kids have had cavities. I *hate* both the amalgam fillings, AND the composite risks/side effects, so have pursued some Weston Price recommendations. I wish I knew a little more about what I have seen/experienced, but I’ll put it out there for you anyway. I started taking green pasture’s fermented cod liver oil and butter oil last fall. Within 2 weeks, I had a (very small, composite) filling come out. I didn’t know that’s what had happened, but finally realized it. I have *no idea* if these 2 things are connected, but it has been about 7 months and I have no sensitivity or ‘problem’ in the area the filling came from. I can still feel a little edge or whatever in that spot, but it seems to be functional and fine. We haven’t always been consistent in the FCLO/butter stuff, but we’re doing better nowadays. Last night my 10yo lost one of her ‘big’ teeth – on the surface there was a tiny cavity visible. On the edge was a considerably noticeable ‘hole’. Held up to the light you could see a darkness in that whole area (connecting the surface cavity to the side decay). From the root-side, where the ‘dark’ part was visible, it was a clear ‘spot’ – delineating an obvious difference between this part and the surrounding white tooth. I wondered if it would be mushy or differently textured. I spent some time poking at all the parts with a needle; scratching out [decay?] on the side, etc. the discolored part along the root side was NOT soft at all; it felt like the rest of the tooth. I am no dentist; I have no idea if this is absolutely normal or if any of this hints at ‘regeneration’. I will ask our dentist someday; he already thinks we’re crazy for some of our dental choices. 🙂

  7. We were so blessed to have gone through our first courtship, engagement, and marriage in the way we had prayed for. Long time family friends, boy reveals interest to his father. Father says, “you’re not ready yet”, our daughter doesn’t even know of the interest (boy showed incredible self-control), after some time, boy is ready, comes to us for permission to being courtship. They spend lots of time with both families, never alone, engagement comes, wedding planning begins, short engagement. And now they’re living happily ever after. We couldn’t have imagined a better senario. God was so gracious through our first time. We pray a similar senario for all our other children, though we know each one will look a bit different and be unique.

    At some point, I will write about it and post it. It was beautiful! We’re so thankful!

    • Lois Groat says:

      Wow. Your answer to the yelling NO! question was phenomenal. It was all stuff I “know”, but my heart needed that very amazing distillation of what is important in discipline. Can I quote you on my facebook wall? I will give you credit, and link to your blog.

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