4 Moms Q&A: when mom loses her temper; girl emotions and drama; chaos and noise levels

4moms35kids 4 MomsHurrah!  It’s Q&A week again, my favorite because I can pick and choose the easiest questions and pretend I didn’t hear the hard ones!

I jest, really.  I’m kidding!  I do try to choose questions where I actually have a clue, but I appreciate the hard ones as well because they make me think and examine myself and how I do things.

This week we’re busy packing and preparing for a move, so forgive me if I sound rushed or don’t answer quite as many questions as usual.  We still don’t have a closing date, although the lender indicated that this Friday sounded awfully ambitious.  It sounds like October 12 is more realistic.  He obviously forgot that we have a baby due on October 17.  Somebody should remind him.  Maybe he should read our blog.

1. Donna asked, Why have u and your girls chosen to wear skirts only. What biblically backs this decision?

We don’t wear only skirts.  We wear mostly skirts, most of the time.  I’ve posted about that decision here.

2. Elizabeth asked, How do you guys handle celebrating Halloween (or how do you not handle not celebrating it with family and friends that do)?

We simply skip it.  We sometimes attend Reformation parties, and sometimes just entirely ignore the fact that a large part of our culture is busy with a holiday.  It’s never been a big deal for us or our children, although we do enjoy the clearance prices on candy right after Halloween.  In the country, we never have trick-or-treaters anyway.

Since we’re expecting to move into the city before Halloween this year, the question has been raised by the children so I would love to hear how others handle the issue.  Do you just leave the porch light off?  Do you indulge the neighbors by passing out candy but don’t send your own children out?  Make plans to be gone?

3. Stephanie asked, What’s in your coffee cup?

I usually drink my coffee black, but I also love fancy froo-froo drinks, especially later in the morning or afternoon.  On a warm day, I love to whip up a pitcher of homemade Starbucks-style fraps to share with the older girls.  On cooler days, I sometimes make my own version of a latte: a mug of hot milk with a teaspoon of instant coffee plus some sugar and maybe a little additional flavoring.  If Perry makes the morning coffee too strong for my taste (or if I’m spending the day at Vision Forum, where the coffee is ALWAYS too strong), I use a 1/4 cup of coffee in my latte instead of the instant coffee.

What’s in your coffee cup?

Even better than what’s in my cup is what’s on my cup.  See?  This just makes my day every time I hold it!



4. Sophie asked, Jumping off the modesty questions you’ve been talking about lately, I was thrown by the wedding photos–I thought I recalled from an earlier post that you don’t wear sleeveless shirts outside the house, but then some of you were wearing sleeveless shirts in church. Am I remembering wrong, or have your standards changed, or…?

We don’t normally wear tank tops outside the house or other shirts with very narrow straps that are prone to show one’s bra straps.  Our general rule is that a top must reliably cover a normal bra and not threaten to reveal anything inappropriate if we carelessly bend over.  Oh, and if it’s so sheer or snug that the bra shows through, that’s not covered.

5. Alicia asked,  do you ever yell at your kiddos? if so do you go back & apologize? what’s an appropriate way to handle losing your temper w/your kiddos?

I do raise my voice occasionally, but I’m not much of a yeller.  Even so, they know when I’m angry, and I know whether I am feeling and handling my anger in a way that honors God.  As a parent, it is often my job to speak strongly to my children.  It is never my job to speak unkindly, though.  Even correction and discipline should be done in love and with the goal of leading our children toward obedience to God.  It’s OK to be angry at sin and foolishness (Psalm 4:4, Ephesians 4:26) but if I let my own irritation cause me to lose sight of that goal, I owe my kids an apology.

I am often slow to recognize my own failures, but when I realize that I’ve been unkind, unjust, or harsh with my kids, I go back to them as soon as possible and ask them to forgive me.  I make it clear that the correction itself was justified (if it was), but I handled it sinfully and set a bad example for them as well.  Speaking of which, I need to go talk to Rachael about my reaction when she rolled that watermelon off the counter this morning…

6. Lois asked, How are you all adjusting to having the biggest sister gone? How on earth are you managing to school your kids with a baby and a move on the way? Are you taking a break now from schooling, and you will catch up later? Are you getting enough rest? How can I best pray for your family during this time of many changes?

Wow.  Where do I start?  Having Deanna gone is not as different as you might think, for two reasons: the older girls very often go to work with their dad so it’s not uncommon for them to be gone a lot anyway, plus I still see Deanna about twice/week.  She and Tyler attend church with us.  Our church has a weekly fellowship meal, so we very nearly spend the entire day together and now that she’s a married woman she sits with the grownups during the meal.  🙂

Since she lives just a few miles from Vision Forum (and our new house!) I also see her if I go into town.  Last week, she made me Pumpkin Spice Lattes on two different occasions.  🙂  I expect to see her even more once we live so near her!

School, moving and baby prep are all reasonably low key right now so we just squeeze everything in wherever it fits and don’t worry about what we missed on any particular day.  As long as we make some progress on everything over the course of the week, I’m happy.

I’m trying to remember to take care of myself as my duedate approaches, and Perry and the girls are watching me like hawks.  My midwife strongly admonished me to stay right on top of my diet and hydration and never let myself get so tired that I fall into bed with these words on my lips: “Please, God, just let me get at least 5 hours of rest before I go into labor…”

Thank you for your prayers.  I think our biggest prayer right now is just that everything in front of us would go smoothly: the homebuying process, the move, labor & delivery with a strong healthy baby and mother at the end of it all.  We really don’t know how it will all play out and are taking it one day at a time.

7. Becky asked, How do you teach your daughters to control their emotions? How do you help your children overcome fears?

Similarly, Michelle asked, I too would like to know how you manage girl “drama” and how you teach your girls to function in a world of MEAN girls 🙂

With so many teen and preteen girls in the house, emotions are an ever-present issue.  We can’t begin to claim to have conquered this one, but I can tell you how we address it: just like anger or excessive crying in younger children, we admonish them to self-control.  There is no excuse for sin in our lives, and hormones are just one of the difficulties we will face as we get older.  We remind them that hormones may make it harder to be sweet and patient, but they do not excuse unkindness, a bad temper, or failure to control oneself.  Our emotional state may vary from one day or hour to the next, but God’s standard does not.  We must always treat one another with love, following the golden rule that sums up the last 6 of the 10 commandments.

I said this in a recent Q&A about dealing with an overly emotional little boy, but I think it applies to girls just as well:

While we as moms want to be gentle and understanding, we do not want our children to be ruled by their emotions.  Proverbs 25:28 says,  A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

My basic response with either gender has been to admonish them to self control.  With a very little one, I would simply correct him in a firm voice: “No, that’s not a reason to cry.  You hush.”  With a 7yo, I would explain to them that falling into tears without a very good reason is very much like having a tantrum of sadness instead of anger.  It’s sin, and they need to work hard to control themselves just like they would if they had a bad temper.

Helping children overcome fears is done in much the same way.  I don’t deny their fear, but I do encourage them to trust God and not allow their fear to rule them.  We talk about the definition of courage and bravery: not fearlessness, but boldly facing what you fear.  It’s OK to be afraid of the dark, but we know that God is in the darkness just as He is in the light.  Even while we feel afraid, we can acknowledge that our fear is silly and unfounded.  I’m deathly afraid of ticks, but we live in deer country and we do see ticks.  I work hard to conquer that fear and calmly dispose of the horrible little brutes, setting a good example for little eyes around me.  I may be recoiling and shrieking on the inside, but I don’t want to let that fear rule me or pass my fear along to them.

8. Trisha asked a question near and dear to my heart: How do you control chaos and volume in your home? Seems like I have one toddler crying, one toddler hanging on my leg, two kids talking to me at the same time, one child singing loudly, etc. Are you able to control it, and if not, how do you stay sane? 🙂

I have a very low tolerance for chaos and volume, so being a mom of many has been a very sanctifying experience.  It doesn’t help that my own family is naturally very quiet and I married into a high-volume family.  🙂

To a certain extent I have simply adjusted, but I haven’t entirely given up.  I do try to regulate noise levels, though they don’t always stay exactly where I would like.  It’s not unusual for me to say any or all of the following on a typical day:

“No, don’t talk to me while the baby is crying.  You need to wait.”

“Don’t make noise for no reason.  If you’re not talking to somebody, you need to hush.”

“Don’t talk louder than you need to.  Your sister is only 18 inches away from you, and I can hear you all the way over here.”

“Too loud, people.  Let’s have some quiet time now.  Everyone take a break from making noise.”


9. Maryjo asked the inevitable, “what happened to your dogs?”

First, we found a new home for our Yorkie.  She desperately wanted to be somebody’s baby and nobody in our house wanted to mother her properly.  After 5 years, we decided she really deserved better and found her a new mommy who couldn’t wait to spoil her rotten.

Around the same time, our beloved Golden Retriever started showing signs of brain cancer, very common for the breed.  Medication controlled her frequent and severe seizures, but she soon became mentally unstable and aggressive toward our other pets.  Rather than wait for her to attack a child, we made the difficult decision to have her put down.

Finally, Lydia’s Australian Shepherd abruptly disappeared.  In spite of the fact that she wore tags and was microchipped, she simply disappeared without a trace.

And that’s it.  No dogs at the moment.  We’re considering what our next dog will be.  I’d like something that will work as a burglar alarm and a vacuum cleaner, preferably not too hairy or stinky.  We have fond memories of our Jack Russell terrier from many years ago.  We also really loved our Golden and are considering a Labrador Retriever as a less hairy version.  The decision is far from made, but I don’t like being without a dog.

10. Betsy asked, How do you keep a new baby safe from her older brothers? I have 3 little boys 4 and under and I’m expecting a baby this month. I’m a bit nervous about them hurting her (not intentionally, but just being crazy little boys!). I do plan on wearing her, but do you have any other pointers or ideas for when I’m not?

I like to conquer this stage very quickly by allowing the other children to interact with the new baby as much as possible.  I let them touch, kiss, and hold with supervision and they learn right away all the things they MUST NOT DO to baby, rather than stringing out these lessons over the course of 3 heartstopping months.  This way, they know within the first 2 days that they must NEVER put anything in baby’s mouth, or try to pick up baby without help, or move the baby’s seat, or put anything on top of the baby, or try to change the baby’s diaper…

Seriously, I think protecting a new baby too much from well-meaning older siblings also slows the learning process and increases the chance that 6 weeks later you’ll realize nobody has impressed upon the 3yo that the baby can NOT eat cheerios or drink chocolate milk from a sippy cup.  It’s easy to maintain constant direct supervision during those very early days while you are resting, but once you are “back on duty” there are simply going to be moments when your back is turned.  In my opinion, it’s much safer and easier to teach those lessons early than to try to catch the teachable moments when life is busier.


The other moms are taking questions too:

Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

  • October 11 – Introducing kids to technology
  • October 18 – Food preservation
  • October 25 – How do you keep the car clean?
  • November 1 – Q&A

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


  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I only have 4 so far… and I do not know many other families with that many children or the ones I do know are passed the baby/little stage…The answer about Losing You Temper, we sooooo helpful. And the part about noise, oh man, I say everyone of those. I don’t feel so alone. I have been feeling so lost and alone in what a mom of many is ‘supposed to look like’ because when the cars are full of clothes and toys and garbage, and the kids volume reaches ‘that’ level where you can’t hear yourself think, and you get looks from people at the store at church at where ever, you can really begin to doubt. I prayed the other day for reassurance and God blessed me by pointing me tot this blog! Thank you!

    • Angela, I’m glad you found it helpful. It’s always convicting to me just to write about these topics, because while I usually know what I should do, I rarely do it perfectly! I hope others can be encouraged by the imperfections of more experienced moms as well as learning from our experience. 🙂

  2. We don’t participate in Halloween. I encourage my children to dress up for plays when their costumes have a real purpose. Since we homeschool we don’t have the public school pressure to dress up at school. When our girls were young and went to bed by 7:30PM we just kept the porch light off and watched a movie with pizza and dessert in the back of the house. Since our girls bedtime is now 9:00PM we usually try to do something fun away from home. This year, since the 31st is a Wednesday we will be at our church wrapping Christmas shoe boxes and then probably head to Dairy Queen for ice cream! We live in town and people have knocked on our door even though we have no decorations up and no lights on. People are greedy! We just ignore it if we are home.

  3. We don’t have children (not our choice), so we just plan to be gone for a couple hours when trick-or-treating is going on. It’s just for two hours in our town, so we just plan a shopping run and maybe a quick dinner out that evening. 🙂

  4. We’ve tried different things on Halloween: hiding out, participation with limits, attending a church hosted ‘alternative’ (which felt a little odd since it also had candy and costumes). But what really felt right was a few years back when we decided to try offering light on such a dark day, literally, and hand out glow sticks. We got a big tube of 50 glow necklaces. They were a hit! We heard, “Is this this house with the glow sticks?” But, don’t bother trying to keep the leftover ones until next year, they won’t last.
    Interestingly, with no input from us, our church is promoting the same concept this year and calling it “be a light house”. Check it out… http://www.nhlc.org/more-info/light-house

  5. My parents started a fun Halloween tradition when we were little. We handed out candy for a few years (when my sis and I were toddlers) but we were easily scared by the costumes and they decided that it wasn’t worth it. So instead, we turn out all the lights and leave the house on Beggar’s Night in our neighbourhood. We headed out to eat (the restaurants are empty!) and then to a bookstore until the trick-or-treating hours were over.

    This developed into a group tradition when we started inviting other families along, and it was an excellent occasion for fellowship.

  6. About Halloween, my opinion is that GOD made every single day. Ever. Satan doesn’t *get* one of them every year.

  7. Personally, I don’t see the harm in Halloween. The images associated with the holiday aren’t things that actually exist. If it’s a question of being a Pagan holiday, then what about Christmas trees or mistletoe or any of the other traditions Christians borrowed from Pagan celebrations? To each their own, I just wonder at the reasoning behind it. 🙂

    In regard to your missing dog, I wanted to mention that I’ve known several people whose pets were missing for weeks or even months and then returned, so you might consider leaving a photograph of your dog with the new owners of the house you’re selling. Microchips and tags are great, but if the dog does show back up at your house (and has lost his/her tags) and you’re no longer there, it would be hard for the new owners to read the microchip without adding a trip to an animal shelter. 😉 It’s worth the precaution, anyway.

    • Thanks – we’ll definitely keep the possibility in mind. My brother and his wife will be buying the house, so they’ll know who to call if Gypsi comes back.

    • HeatherHH says:

      Actually the images associated with Halloween are often of things that really do exist (like demons or axe-murderers) or of things that are deliberately meant to be scary or evil even if they aren’t actually real. And those who practice witchcraft do exist, but silly images like those seen at Halloween make it seem like something just from a fairy book. And so much of the imagery and such is about scariness, and we don’t believe as Christians that we are to be trying to scare ourselves or others. We just don’t see as Christians why we want to be associated with celebrating an event that is represented by things that are scary and/or evil.

  8. WOW! I especially love the first paragraph to question #7 (the rest too). More women need to read that. Unfortunately, many of the people who need that summary most will never see it.

  9. Just turn out your porchlight and you probably won’t be bothered. If the doorbell rings, just ignore it. We usually treat it as any other day, although last year we were moving and needed to go to WalMart. Once we fought our way out of the neighborhood, we had the stores to ourselves! It was great.

  10. For Halloween, we take off right after supper and go to the Dollar store to fill up our Samaritan’s Purse Christmas shoeboxes..and we dawdle as much as possible. 😛 When we get home, we keep the porch light off and if anyone knocks, we just tell them, sorry no candy. After 8 o’clock –kids bedtime in our house– we put a sign up that said “Baby sleeping, please don’t ring or knock” in case anyone came. Last year we only have 3 or 4 people knock..parents with kids know that porch light off means don’t bother, so it was just a couple of groups of kids out by themselves.

  11. We have done many different things over the years for Halloween. Once or twice we’ve bought a little candy just in case somebody does come (very rare out here) but we leave the porch light off to discourage it. When the kids were little and this first came up we did go to a few church parties. Sometimes we watch a movie, have a game night, build a bon fire in the back yard and roast hot dogs and marshmallows while singing songs. If possible we try to do things fun with friends so our kids don’t feel like they’re missing out on any fun. We’ve talked about going Christmas caroling if the weather is cool enough to dress up in sweaters and hats…Have a sort of anit-Halloween. We have some in our fellowship who ignore the holiday and some who observe it so its a little difficult to take a hard line on this one these days. We try to get along without compromising our principals. While I would prefer to just take the day off the calendar completely not everyone we are close to and spend time with are in the same place we are so we try not to judge. I think God will be more unhappy with our lack of love toward others than anything we might do to acknowledge an unChristian holiday.

    And my coffee cup is filled with herbal tea these day. I found many years ago caffeine and I do not get along so I switched to herbal tea. I keep many different varieties and brands around.

  12. We don’t celebrate Halloween at our house. Now that we live a bit farther out of town, I’m guessing we won’t have to worry about kids coming to our door. Several years ago we handed out candy with a Bible verse sticker, but decided we were sending mixed messages to our kids and stopped altogether.

    Then a few years ago someone gave our kids a gift card to Chuck E. Cheese (not my favorite place) and for some reason we decided to go use the gift card on Oct. 31st. It was awesome! The place was empty and quiet! So that began a new tradition to go somewhere that is normally packed with kids but still open for business since Halloween isn’t a real holiday. We haven’t decided where to go this year just yet. We’re in a new town and our plan might not work quite as well with the diverse population here, but we’ll see!

  13. About Halloween…our family tradition is Fun-o-ween. ALL the kids enjoy spending October designing costumes (non-scary) and mommy & daddy keep their costume a secret until the night of. We eat tons of candy, watch, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and I make “dinner” with a pumpkin theme (appetizers, etc.) We also play games and just have a blast. We live in London on a private street, so usually don’t get any knocks at the door, but we turn all the lights out in the front of the house just in case.
    About the self-control thing…good thoughts when dealing with teens. This has been my sermon for many years with girls AND boys…hormones is not an excuse for losing it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! You’re a blessing!

  14. HeatherHH says:

    We turn off the porch light. If someone still comes to the door (only happened once), we’ll just tell them that we’re Christians and we don’t celebrate Halloween. To us, handing out candy and other things even with tracts still would give the appearance that we’re participating in a day that’s symbolized by ghosts, witches, demons, evil, and general scariness. And we also have general objections to the idea of children going door-to-door begging for candy even if it didn’t have all of Halloween’s associations.

  15. Reading your answer to Deanna being gone sounds very much like my answer to our oldest being gone. She was married in January, and the transition has been very smooth. As we approached the wedding, she was gone quite a bit babysitting or spending time with her soon-to-be family. Since being married, we still see her often. We attend the same church, so see her about twice a week. Our little girls have piano lessons close to her home, so we see her on those says too. Plus, she and Nathan come over for dinner and birthdays. It’s been a great transition!

    I do have a question for you. You may have already answered this…or perhaps will in a future “house” post. I was wondering what you’re doing with your current house? Selling? Renting? Just curious. 🙂

  16. My husband grew up in a home that turned out the lights and went to bed early, though very rarely he was permitted to attend one of the church events when he hit his teen years. His parents have told me (I don’t know exactly what they told him) that any person claiming to be a Christian and participating in a pagan holiday was not really a Christian.

    I was raised in a home where we were allowed to dress up as nice things (ie, no ghosts, witches, wizards, ghouls, etc), trick-or-treat, and we passed out candy and children’s tracts. My parents still pass out the candy and tracts. They have had many people come back over the years wanting to know more about the information in those tracts! What a great witnessing opportunity! There are actually tracts specifically for Halloween available now, but they just used whatever fun kids one they could find before there were Halloween ones! 🙂

    So, as you can probably imagine, we had a large number of discussions regarding Halloween participation here. We’ve sided toward my parents’ perspective that it is a great witnessing opportunity– honestly, how often do you get 25+ people coming to your house and taking WHATEVER you put in their bags?? Talk about captive audience! And that while there is an evil holiday being celebrated by a few, there is also a lot of fun (which most of those people actually CELEBRATING the “real” holiday don’t even participate in, since many of them feel it is a mockery)! One of the things we could not resolve was how it is appropriate to bless a person when they sneeze, but not let kids dress up and get free candy. Both sprang from superstitious/pagan beliefs. Why participate in one and not the other when BOTH have changed so much in the mainstream?

    We have opted to let our children (age 2 and almost 4 this year) participate to the extent of doing one or two of the church Trunk-or-Treat events that happen in the area, and then we walk the couple of streets in our neighbourhood, which means we visit about 40 houses. They are encouraged to dress up as nice things, and if they request something not appropriate (since there are so many possibilities presented out there!), we do talk about how God does not approve of whatever it is. This year I have a Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin! 🙂 When there is an adult home we do pass out candy and tracts, but my husband is usually at work in the evening on Halloween, so most years there is no one home.

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