4 Moms Q&A: teaching boys to respect girls; quick snacks; disciplining a hot-tempered toddler

4moms35kids 4 Moms: How did you know you wanted/could handle a large family?

This week I posted a plea on facebook for easy questions.  Blame it on pregnancy brain, or blame it on my dawning suspicion that I may have allergies bringing me down.  Either way, my brain is fuzzy and my eyes are bleary no matter how faithfully I take my vitamins and naps.  I’m not complaining – or at least I’m not trying to.  I’m just making excuses, which is entirely different.  🙂

I’m going to unabashedly pick the questions that I have a ready answer for, so as to save my brain cells for the big question of the day: What’s For Dinner?

1. How do I teach the boys to respect girls when there are none in the house and see very few of them?

Fern, if you looked at my header photo, you’ll know that I don’t have this problem, but I’m going to jump in anyway: You are a girl, and your boys can start by respecting you not only for your parental authority but also for your gender.  You can gently nudge them to get the door for you, carry heavy items for you, invite you to go first in line, remind them to offer their seat to you because this is how gentlemen treat ladies, etc.  You might point out that while you remind them because you are their mother and it’s your job to teach manners, they ought to do gentlemanly things without being asked, because a lady will not demand their courtesy.  Praise them for every act of chivalry, and remind them to treat all girls as ladies.

2. What do you do to get a little one on one time with each of your children?

We 4 Moms posted a while back about one on one time, and my perspective was that I take it as it comes naturally throughout the day.  With the older ones, it may be a dinner table discussion or working together on dishes.  With the younger set, one on one time may come during a reading lesson, diaper change, or folding washcloths together.  I have found that there’s no need to schedule it as long as I remember to make time for the less demanding children who might otherwise slip through the cracks.

3. How do you teach kids (little kids like ages 2 & 5 to be exact) to respect each other and their spaces?

Danielle, if you’re talking about personal possessions, we put a lot of emphasis on the 8th Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”  From the time they are very little, they learn that “this toy belongs to Bethany; you need to give it to her and ask if you can play with it.”  Even a non-verbal toddler can carry a toy to a sibling with an inquiring look, and you may be shocked at how early they understand the concept.  At the same time, the owner is encouraged not to be selfish.  If Bethany wasn’t already playing with the toy and has no reason to fear that the baby will destroy it, she should happily let him play with it.  If she is reluctant, she may get a brief lecture about treating others as she wants to be treated.

Opportunities for these lessons are never in short supply, so if you’re starting a little later don’t worry.  🙂

4.  Favorite go-to “the kids are going to die if they don’t eat RIGHT NOW” snack?

Frankie, we live in Texas, so chips and salsa are a big favorite.  I think PerryBoy would live on them if he was allowed, and he invariably starts a stampede when he pours himself a bowl of salsa.  Here are few other quick & easy ways we fill hungry bellies:

  • Nachos: cover a plate or cookie sheet with a single layer of tortilla chips and sprinkle generously with grated cheddar cheese.  Microwave plate or pop cookie sheet in the oven for a few minutes until cheese melts.
  • Cheese quesadillas are another popular choice – just a little grated cheddar rolled up in a tortilla and melted in the microwave.
  • I like to buy the big bags of animal crackers from WalMart (about 2 lbs. for $2.50, I think?) and serve with peanut butter for dipping.  Unlike cookies, these animal crackers are relatively low in sugar, and the peanut butter gives this snack lots of staying power.
  • Fruit is generally available, but not in unlimited quantities and not as a meal replacement.  My kids will eat fruit like candy, so I have to regulate it a little.  🙂
  • Milk!  With hot weather, we have been drinking far more milk than usual.  I think it’s because it is cold and full of protein.  A tall, cold glass of milk often sounds better than cooked food and may have a similar amount of calories, fat, carbs and protein.
  • Cookie dough.  We don’t do it often, and we drink lots of milk with it.  Call me a bad mom if you must, but I think you’re just jealous.

5. How do you discipline a hot-tempered, strong willed toddler?

Brandy, start young, and focus on attitude!  That’s not to say you should let other infractions slide, but realize that a bad attitude is sinful too, and deal with it whenever you see it.  When I’m disciplining a strong willed little one, I often have to correct again right away for bad attitude: “Don’t be mad.  God tells you to obey your parents, and you need to obey happily.”  We’re not done until I have a sweet-tempered repentant child.  A hot-tempered strong willed child is not a happy one, so the sooner you can teach your child some self-control, the happier your child will be.

At the same time, it’s important to address the heart issue.  Try to figure out why this particular child is struggling with anger.  The answer can vary and sometimes the cause is less than obvious, so take time to discuss and inquire even with little ones.  Even if they can’t talk much, you might be surprised at how much they can understand as you talk through the situation.

 6. What’s your favourite ice cream flavour?

Andrea, I love you.

My favorite flavor is anything with chocolate and: coffee, nuts, peanut butter, or any combination thereof.  If it’s Blue Bell, it doesn’t matter what flavor!

7.  How have you handled the bill from your midwife since you use Samaritan Ministries? We just signed up with SM a few months ago, and I’m now expecting #4. SO excited to be using SM, but I’m just not sure how to have the midwife split up the bill so she doesn’t have to wait till the end but it all gets covered. 

Rachel, I did a post answering that very question here: How do you handle maternity bills with Samaritan?

8. How many times were you asked “Are you trying for a boy?” before you had one? And did you have any witty answers for them? (I have 4 daughters and expecting baby 5 in 4 weeks and this is all people ask me!)

Amy, I lost count of how many times people asked me that.  I usually just took the opportunity to say something about our belief that children are a blessing, and how I had grown up with lots of sisters and always pictured myself with a houseful of girls.  I figured that we would probably have boys eventually, but that would be a whole new learning curve for me.  For the time, I was enjoying my girls.

When our first son was born, strangers asked if we would stop now that we had our boy, and I had a little more fun with the answers.  “Are you kidding? Stop now?  We’re just getting started on the boys!”

The other moms are taking questions too:

Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

  • June 21 – How do you keep up your energy?
  • June 28 – favorite freezer meals

Recent topics:

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


  1. Oh dear, it looks like I didn’t clarify that it’s my older sons who open doors, offer up seats, and offer to carry bundles!!!
    In all honesty, this is very much the result of having a hubby with conservative values who watches what they’re up to pretty closely:-).

  2. I’m just now seeing this post, so please pardon the late comment.
    Good advice on teaching young men how to treat ladies. You would be amused to see the surprised–no shocked facial expressions on the faces of people as they hold doors open, offer their seat up, and volunteer to carry bundles. And guess what? We live in the South!!!!
    So glad to hear someone else gets rather strange questions about family planning. I don’t think they hear the response “We’re leaving it up to God…”. I guess it comes out sounding like the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons: “Wah-Wah, wah, wah, wah wah…”. Bless their hearts (remember, I’m from the South :-)).
    Your advice regarding “property rights” reminded me of one of Susannah Wesley’s (John Wesley’s mother) rules for her children : “Preserve property rights, even in smallest matters.” The other 15 House Rules are very wise as well.
    And as for the chocolate thing–I feel ya!!

  3. Our first son was our third child and a few people said, “You got your boy!” My husband would always reply, “Well, we have A boy now.” The next child was also a boy, then we had 3 girls, then we had our 3rd son less than a month ago. I think we got the most “flak” from people for our 4th child as we had 2 girls and a boy and everyone thought we should be “done”. After we had 4, people apparently decided we were more or less crazy and mostly left us alone :-).

  4. When I was in high school the late 80’s our Hardees would sell frozen chocolate chip cookies. They intended to microwave them for someone to have hot, but people started asking for them frozen and it caught on quickly. We were so disappointed when they stopped about a year later. Do you have an egg free cookie dough recipe or do you not worry about that? I sometimes sneak it myself, still.

  5. “5. How do you discipline a hot-tempered, strong willed toddler?
    Brandy, start young, and focus on attitude!”

    BRANDY!!! That’s what I’ve been doing wrong! And all this time I thought a good red wine was sufficient!

    Ahem. Sorry. (Sort of.)

    I’m still so impressed that you regularly post. Thank you!

  6. about Q3: this sounds a bit like what we do, but I’m wondering if your children are allowed to say no even after being “encouraged” to share? In our house, I think I don’t really allow it, as in I’m pretty clear that I expect them to share unless they have a good reason not to, and they know they’ll get a lecture if they don’t…he he. But sometimes I feel like this means that the item is not really theirs, if someone else (me…) can ultimately decide over it. Am I making sense?

    Anyway, I don’t really like the whole “this is mine” and “this is yours” concept. I rather try to encourage that *we* have stuff that is ours in common, as a family….I feel like this is what I should be doing (and an ideal I’d like to strive toward!) like how the disciples lived in the beginning. But I don’t know if I’m sometimes not giving them enough privacy/personal space….we’re already sharing bedrooms and living in a small space and all that. Sometimes I wonder if I should be giving them more “individual rights” instead of focusing so much on the community aspect. (You know, along with the “your family always comes first, you should stand up for your siblings etc etc…).

    Ah, rambling comment – sorry – hope some of it made sense 🙂

    • Maria, I understand the tension you feel because I feel it too. Much of what we own in our household is common property, but everyone has their own private possessions as well.
      I try to lead them strongly toward sharing unless they can provide a good reason to decline. In that case, they should be courteous and tactful, treating others as they want to be treated.
      If they absolutely do not want to share and can’t provide a good reason, I do usually let them say no, but with a warning that it seems like they are not treating others in a way that pleases God, and others might not be inclined to share with them.
      Of course it goes both ways, and there are acceptable reasons to decline to share. The way I see it, I’m trying to strike a balance between personal rights and loving one another.

  7. Thank you for picking my question. 🙂 My mother-in-law came up with a good response to the gender question: “We wanted a family and that is what we got!” I like it because it isn’t rude but it also says that it really doesn’t matter what the gender is (and a little bit that it is nothing to do with the total stranger who is talking to you!!)

  8. Meghan V. says:

    Our family is just getting started (2boys currently) but we are getting asked the question: are you hoping #3 is a girl? It amazes me how if you seem too have “too many” of one gender people expect you to not be content with what you have. Oh, and for the record I wouldn’t mind a girl but I love little boys too! 😀

  9. Rachel B says:

    Thanks for the link! Must have missed that post!

  10. Do you think that the heat might be a factor in your not feeling up to par? I lived for many years in an un-air-conditioned attic apartment, so I know how strong an effect the heat can have. I’m not up-to-date on your weather though. In the mid-Atlantic area, June has been cooler than the previous months were.

    • Lora, we’ve lived without a/c for several years now, and most of my pregnancies have been in the summer, so that shouldn’t be a big factor for me. Or rather, I’m already taking it into account. The heat does sap my energy, but I’ve been struggling more than usual.

      • I was struggling with constant fatigue when I quit caffeine with the birth of #4 a few months ago. It was like it wouldn’t get out of my system or something. A week or two after my last sip of caffeine I was still feeling like I just could not get my body to function without it! I kept hanging in there and eventually someone suggested I take vitamin D. I said I AM taking vitamin D! Got on it to combat the preggo fatigue and still on it postpartum for the baby blues and haven’t noticed it helping in either case. She asked if I was taking LIQUID vit D and I was like, Uh well no it’s a little pressed caplet. She said to try liquid, I did, and OH MY the difference was apparent after just a week of taking it. So for experementation purposes I quit the D and the fatigue came right back, got back on the D and it went away again. WOW. Then a month or 2 later, for experementation purposes again (and absolutely nothing to do with the yumminess… or anything… *ahem*) I had my favorite caffeinated beverage again and the next day I felt like poo warmed over. Waited a week, tried it again. Same effect the next day, this time it took longer to wear off. Waited a week, tried it again, same effect again- felt awful the next day and the next and the next! Okay so I’ve established that caffeine makes me sick- either gotta have it daily or rarely, can’t do in between. 🙁 *sniffles* And that vitamin D helps with the withdrawal. So yeah if you were to ask me, which you didn’t, *whistles innocently* I might suggest that if you drink caffeine you cut back to once a month, and if you don’t take liquid vitamin D you mosey on over to your nearest vitamin-friendly store and pick up a big bottle of it. I started with the daily dose advised on the bottle and then after a couple weeks on it that way I felt like the improvement slowed so I upped my dose to 1.5 times the daily amount per day and stayed on that for a while until it got to the point where I was out in the sun more and my body didn’t immediately let me know it loud and clear if I forgot a dose and then I cut back again. It’s getting hot though and I’ve been inside alot in the a/c and feeling a bit sluggish again so maybe time to up the dose again. *Just my personal experience, use advice from random stranger commenting on blogs at your own discretion, and all that disclaimerly jazz that we are pretty much required to stamp on anything we say and do anymore. 😉

        • You’re not the first to suggest vitamin D, but I’m hesitant to go there. I live in a very sunny climate and my house has lots of windows. I guess I don’t spend a lot of time outside so it’s certainly possible. If so, I should see some improvement very soon since hubby has been after me to start walking daily. Now that the morning sickness has almost completely passed, I have no excuse to avoid exercise. I walked the last 2 days and hope to make it part of my morning routine.

          • Just to put my two cents in, Kim…Are you hesitant to take Vitamin D because you’re afraid of overdose? The medical community used to warn strongly against that, but in the last few years there has been a lot of research done on the action of D in the body, and it is almost impossible to get toxic on it. It is converted into a hormone that is used by nearly every tissue in the body and is essential for proper function. You might consider getting tested, especially if you tend to be a sunscreen fan. The RDA is still said to be around 400 IU, but research has shown that most people can process up to 10,000 IU daily–and that disease risk factors decrease significantly when levels are up.
            Also, you can’t get D through windows unless they are open–the glass blocks the rays necessary for D formation in the skin. Your walking will definitely help, and maybe you are far enough south that you’ll be OK–I live in WA and have never been up to normal levels, even when I lived in TN for school. Anyway, it would be worth testing if you can afford it (do you have any more pregnancy labs? Up here D is almost an automatic test, but maybe not down there.)
            For further reading, if you’re interested, see the articles on this page: http://www.bonherbals.com/vitamin-d-articles/
            This page is maintained by one of my former teachers who has been involved in intensive D research. She recommends vegan vitamin D, but I don’t know that this is necessary. Since you are not vegetarian, Cod Liver Oil might be a good option for you if you don’t take it already.
            OK, I’m done now. I hope you get your energy levels back.

          • Alice,
            I’m not concerned about overdose – just concerned about too many pill bottles by my bedside. 🙂 I almost never use sunblock and will be walking daily or close to it, so if D is the problem it should solve itself soon. I don’t have any more scheduled pregnancy labs, though I’m sure my midwife would check if I asked her and Samaritan members would pay the bill. I just hesitate to incur unnecessary expenses for myself or others, so I need to become convinced that it’s necessary before I do it. Maybe it *is* necessary…

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