Q&A with the 4 Moms: lies, jealous toddlers, and why doesn’t anyone invite you to dinner?

4moms35kids 4 Moms: What do you do for your children, and what do they do for themselves?

Hip-Hip-Hooray for Q&A!  Here are my best answers to a few of the questions I received this week on the Life in a Shoe facebook page.  If you have better answers, please speak up because moms of many (and moms of any) need all the good advice we can get.

How do you handle lying?  Small dumb lies like sneaking snacks, or watching TV when not allowed.

I deal with it as two separate offenses, and make sure the offender understands that.  In your first example, the child is stealing food, which might even have been freely given if they asked.  I’m not sure if you are referring to the initial sneakiness as a lie, or if the child actually told a lie to cover her tracks.  Either way, I would remind them that they are not allowed to eat X without permission and here is the punishment for that.  Now, if the child told a lie or fabricated a cover (i.e. buried the snack wrapper deep in the trash or washed her own dish to hide the evidence) then I would deal with that as a separate crime.  “You know the punishment for eating that without permission, but now you added another sin by lying.  Even if you didn’t lie with your mouth, you tried to make me think you didn’t eat that.  Your punishment for lying is…”

I make sure the punishment for lying is stiffer than the original offense, and remind them that if they had been honest about their offense their punishment would only have been ___, but because they lied they also have this punishment.  The lie didn’t help; it only made things worse.

I also remind them that God hates lying lips (Prov 12:22), and Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).  If God is our Father, we should do our very best to act like Him and honor Him with our words.  And finally, I remind them it’s hard to trust someone who lies.  I don’t want to rub their noses in past sins, but if they begin to show a pattern of lying, I will have to wonder if they are lying even when they are telling the truth.  Neither of us wants that.

I do think it’s normal for very young children to “experiment” with lying as they learn about the difference between truth, lies, teasing, fiction, etc.  But I also think it is our duty as parents to quickly and compassionately teach them the difference.

What is the best and most consistent way to deal with whiners?

My favorite way is to plead deafness: “I can’t understand you when you talk in a whiny voice.  Say it again in a happy voice…Oh, I still can’t understand you.  Try again… Oh, now I understand!”

I think the key to this – as with any form of correction – is consistency.  [Sorry, Zoe.  That’s all I’ve got, because it’s all I need. :)]

Oh – one other thing.  I might be stepping on a few toes, but I just have to voice one observation.  I have noticed many times that the worst whiners have mommies who speak in whiny voices, especially to their children.  Sometimes mommy isn’t being whiny, but she sure speaks in a whiny voice and her children can’t help but emulate her.  If you have persistent whiners, you might want to ask an honest friend for a frank opinion on the matter.

how do you help a very jealous toddler adjust to a new baby? this is one of our longest age gaps, but my 21m old is crying all the time, pulling at me, tantrums, etc ever since the baby was born 2 weeks ago.

When a new baby arrives, I do at least 3 things to head off jealousy and bad behavior:

  1. See that the “old” baby still gets plenty of love and attention.  He’s going to be exceptionally needy just when you have less time for him, so do your best to reassure him by giving him as much attention as you can for a little while.  Enlist the help of other family members too.  Once he has adjusted to sharing you, he’ll become more independent again.
  2. Include the toddler as much as possible in handling and caring for the new baby: let him hold the baby in his lap, kiss the baby’s head, bring you diapers and wipes, hold the baby’s hand during diaper changes, gently rock the baby’s seat, etc.  Even let him help hold your cover-up in place during feedings, if he wants to and if you are comfortable with that.  Do NOT shoo him away from the baby because you are afraid he might hurt him; show him how to be gentle.  Do everything you can to make him feel included and avoid making him feel excluded.
  3. Address behavior issues promptly.  If you let him act up while you’re feeding the baby, he will quickly choose that as his favorite time to misbehave.  If he discovers that it’s easier to get away with bad behavior while the baby is crying, he will do exactly that.  He will test boundaries and he needs to know that all the old standards are still in place.  Deal with tantrums now just as you always have – or always meant to.  If you feel too tired/busy/sympathetic to do it now, just think how you’ll feel if you don’t nip this behavior in the bud.
More church/pew behavior help! I have 3.5yo, 2yo and 2mo and I keep flipping between the “I can’t expect too much from them” mentality and the “They need to learn now” mentality.
I do the same thing, but my  husband reminds me that they are often capable of much more than I expect.  If he can make them behave well, so can I.  I did several posts about training little ones to behave in church: Babbling babies in church and Children in church are two of the most appropriate here.
Is it normal to have a very small social network with a large family? Seems like we never get invites to anything now that we are a family of 7. I don’t mind at all being the hostess. Just wondering if this is normal, and how to maintain our friendships with other families.
Yes, it’s normal.  We have the privilege now of knowing many large families, and many smaller families that love large families.  I don’t think this is common though.  When I was growing up in a large family, invitations were few and far between.  We often had families to our home but invitations were rarely returned.  This was fine with my parents, because it’s much easier to host a family of 4 for dinner than to move 10 or 15 people out the door to a friend’s house for dinner.  In fact, when those rare invitations arrived, it wasn’t uncommon for Dad to respond with a suggestion that they just come to our house instead.
And to be quite honest, I much prefer to host for the very same reason.  I’m a homebody at heart.  If it were up to me, we would do as my dad did, but we don’t.  The rest of my household does not share my sentiments, so we happily load up into the van when invitations arrive – and I’m always glad we did.  🙂
In your case, I have two suggestions:
  1. Be the hostess.  If your friends don’t invite you over, invite them instead.  Often.  More often than I do.
  2. Cultivate friendships with other large families.  Let’s face it: a big family can easily triple the headcount for a small family, but barely double it for a larger family.  If your friends have big families, yours is less likely to overwhelm them.
Do you have questions about big families?  We just might have answers.

See what the other Moms say:

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  1. Oh, Kim! I am feeling so defeated about having our littles in church! We have worked so hard with our 4-year-old and our 2-year-old and they do pretty well. We have great conversations (esp with the 4-year-old) about the things we learn in church. We have a 12-month-old foster-adopt son who is getting to a challenging stage (vocally and “sitting still”-wise), and because we cannot use Biblical, physical forms of discipline with him, we struggling with how to train him. Add to that: our lives have just been turned upside down–we found out we will have his newborn sister placed with us (surprise!), and I am 4 days postpartum with our third bio-baby. We will have five kids, and the oldest is 4! Even if my husband is always with us in the pew, we don’t have enough arms between us to hold all the babies, let alone train them! I am especially discouraged because in a few weeks, once the youngest can be out in public, we have to begin the church-hunting process in this not-child-friendly city. What will people think when we walk through a church’s front door and cause chaos in the sanctuary? Back when we only had the older two, we once visited a church that asked us to sit in the foyer seating area because children were not allowed in the sanctuary for “videotaping” purposes. I guess I realize I am overwhelmed with lots of things, and worried about being rejected by believers when we most need the support of a good church.

    • Karen, I don’t know where you stand doctrinally but it sounds like “family friendly” is high on your list of priorities for choosing a church. Have you checked http://ncfic.org/ for a church in your area? It lists groups from many denominations as well as non-denominational congregations, so you might find one that suits you.
      As for having more children than you have hands, I do have one small suggestion that served us well. I love sitting next to my husband in church, but for a season we just had to let the children come between us: we each held a little one, put one between us, and one on each side. It kept them all in easy reach until they were trained well enough to allow us to sit together again.

  2. I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me to give out an extra punishment for cleaning up after sneaking snacks. I expect my kids to throw their wrappers in the trash, put their peels in the compost, and take their dishes out to the kitchen. Usually, when my kids sneak snacks, they’re eating somewhere other than the table and leaving a mess behind, which is the part that bothers me.

    • Becca, the point isn’t the cleanup. It’s the deception. There is a difference between putting your wrapper in the trash because you’ve been taught to clean up after yourself, and burying it at the bottom of the can because you know you’ll be in trouble if anyone spots it.

  3. We are a family of 14 and we also do not expect to be invited over to anyone else’s home. Our home has become the place where others come to visit. Those with smaller families often do not know what to do with us. They don’t have chairs for each of us and probably not enough plates/cups/silverware. They don’t understand the mentality of not needing those things (3 little bottoms can fit on a bench and paper and plastic works). But even more than that is they have no idea how much we will eat. It has been like this since we had 4 or 5 kids. I have learned to regularly double and then triple recipes, but I have huge pots. If you don’t have the pots, then how do you do it? So not being invited over is not something I take personally but, rather see as logistics issue and/or a fear of the unknown. 🙂

  4. Heather Wawa says:

    Whew! I appreciate the question about people being intimidated at the thought of inviting large families over. We are a family of 9 and we hardly EVER get invitations. My kids have been questioning that lately, as in just this past week. I told them that I’m sure it’s our size. Glad to have you back me up. “They like us! They really DO like us.” They’re just scared of our size.

  5. I also have a toddler and a new baby. I have been a bit frustrated with the toddler, because it seems like he’s been just soooo naughty lately. I sure a lot of it is the adjustment from being the only child to big brother. Thank you so much for simmering it down to three main areas to focus on!

  6. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    It’s not even MOSTLY worrying large families are going to “eat us out of house and home”

    As a family of 3 recently (17 months ago) turned into a family of 4. I struggle when I have my sister’s family over (family of 5) — not enough chairs. Not enough plates and silverware. Being afraid I won’t make enough food and folks will feel unwelcome. Etc. It was a huge stretch for us at christmas to have my parents AND my sister’s family at the same time. And I knew these people and they didn’t mind sitting on the floor, etc!

  7. Hee hee, I just scrolled down to the bottom of this page and noticed that you are…54 weeks and 2 days pregnant. 🙂 You must be quite uncomfortable.

  8. We are a family of seven but most of our friends have larger families, so we are blessed to get lots of invitations and we reciprocate as well. Hosting a large family doesn’t have to be a huge expense. Invite them over for dessert or snacks and a game night. I like to cook the five course big meal but I certainly don’t expect everyone else to do it. We just enjoy the fellowship. The food doesn’t really matter.
    We are commanded to practice hospitality but there isn’t a set menu that goes along with it. 🙂


  9. I’ve seen young parents-I”m only in my 40’s but, been there done that-expect wee ones to walk through the sanctuary doors and not budge in the pews. There is no other time in their week when they are expected to sit still. These young parents set themselves and their young children up for frustration every week. Quietly sitting in church, frankly, is not learned at church! It’s learned at home!
    We only have 5 children so we are a family of 7. That’s a big family to any family topping out at say, 5. I agree that we do our acquaintances a favor and a kindness by entertaining ourselves at home with said acquaintances. It seems to give them a chance to learn how to entertain us. And then they can decide whether they can afford us as friends. I’m being sort of funny with the last comment but it is all too true. And frankly, it gives us a chance to get to know said acquaintances because I really don’t like going out to peoples homes and finding out they are worried whether we are going to eat them out of house and home. I totally would prefer to host.

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