4 Moms Q&A

4moms35kids 4 Moms Q& AHappy Thursday, friends!  Our family is nearly at the end of our media fast, so I hope to chat with you in the comments soon.  It’s been a crazy couple of weeks!  In the meantime, I’m just here to answer a few questions from Facebook for this week’s 4 Moms post.

Heather asked,

How do your children entertain friends? Our kids would like to have a friend over once in a while but with seven kids, one shared family room, and two kids’ bedrooms, there really isn’t a quiet space for them to talk, play a game, or anything else. Keep in mind that outside isn’t always an option as it’s snowy and cold here 6 months of the year.

Heather, we have a couple of different goals when our kids have a friend over.  First, while I understand that one particular child may have a special relationship with a guest, we still consider the newcomer to be more a guest of our family than of just one child.  I don’t want any of my children selfishly laying claim to a guest as though that person were a toy to be squabbled over.  We all do our best to accommodate and entertain our guests, recognizing that one or two of us may be better suited to that task depending on who has come to visit.

That’s not to say that a guest should be constantly inundated with chatter from seven people all at once.  That just doesn’t sound like fun for the visitor, does it?  We still need to exercise some courtesy and give them a little space – something we should already be doing for one another as well.  If 2 or 3 people are playing a game, 3 more shouldn’t demand to be included and overwhelm the activity that was already happening.  But they might quietly watch, or sit nearby and join in the conversation.

Secondly, I want my children to self-consciously include their siblings when they are playing with a friend.  They all know what the word “exclude” means, because they have all been admonished not to exclude one another from their games.  Too often the older ones want to exclude the younger ones, or the one who is entertaining a friend wants to exclude the siblings.  It saddens me when loyalties run in just one direction, because this really isn’t loyalty at all, and it’s not loving your neighbor as yourself.  It’s exactly the sort of favoritism (or partiality) warned against in the Bible.

As mentioned above, this doesn’t mean that anyone and everyone can demand to be included in whatever is happening at the moment.  What it means is that courtesy is a two-way street.  Like the right-of-way when driving, courtesy is to be given, not taken.

To give a more concrete answer to Heather’s question, entertaining a friend in a small house might look something like this for us:

7yo neighbor girl arrives to play with our 8yo girl.  First, everyone gathers round to greet her and chat for a few minutes.  Then the older ones go about their business, while the neighbor plays with our 8yo girl, 4yo girl (because she is inseparable from her sister), and our 6yo boy.  Our 2yob hangs around watching.  After a bit, the three girls want to play with dolls and migrate quietly toward a corner of the living room.  I encourage the rambunctious boys to go play in their room or color at the table for a bit, because they’re not interested in playing dolls and have been reduced to annoying the girls.  A little later, our guest wants to play a game of cards, so some of the older children might join in, while the younger ones sit on laps and “help” play in teams.

I guess part of the key here is that I don’t think friends need solitude to enjoy each other’s company.  A quiet corner of the room is sometimes nice, but they don’t need an entire room.  As a big family in a small house, we learned to share our spaces very well, and never found it too hard to share with an additional guest (or 10).

Gencie Todd asked,

I have a question for Kim C: Do you always carry a gun? What safety measures do you take, surrounded all day by young children? My husband and I are thinking more about getting a handgun. We don’t own one now, and the thought of it makes me very nervous, as children are curious and accidents happen.


I carry almost any time I leave the house, and often around the house as well.  I wear a bellyband, with my gun in the back securely against my body.  This lets me nurse a baby, use the bathroom, carry a toddler on my hip, even change clothes without ever removing it.  I never take it off and set it down anywhere, because I know that there is a chance I might someday forget to pick it up again.  I never carry in my purse, where it could easily be snatched or set down unattended.  I either wear it or put it away.

That is one side of gun safety.  The other side is making sure your children are educated.  Even our very young ones know not to touch a gun, though I know even the best-behaved child will sometimes disobey, which is why I take such precautions with my own gun.  Everyone down to the 2yo has fired a gun (with appropriate levels of help and oversight), because we want them to understand the amount of power these objects possess.  We want them to have a healthy amount of respect and even fear, much like they should have for a big scary kitchen knife.  Having fired a real gun makes it far less likely that a child will think of a gun as a toy – especially if you’re using something with a lot of noise and recoil.

And right from the beginning, our children are learning the 4 Rules of Gun Safety.  Do you know them?  Be sure to learn them before you bring a gun into your house, and teach your children.  There are many versions, but here’s how I learned them from my dad:

  1. All guns are always loaded.  Even if you just unloaded it yourself, or saw someone unload it.  Many accidents happen with “unloaded” guns.
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.  Even with unloaded guns.
  3. Always point your gun in a safe direction.  Even when it’s unloaded.  Don’t wave the muzzle about carelessly.  Remember, all guns are always loaded.
  4. Never point your gun at anything you are not prepared to destroy.  Alternately, Know your target and what is beyond.  Or, Never shoot at a sound or a shadow.

Another question from Gencie Todd:
If you nursed your babies, how and when did you wean?

I’m answering this one because it’s easy.  Here’s why it’s easy: because I answered it in depth in a past post.  🙂  Weaning a Baby

But to make it easy for you, here it is in a nutshell:  I breastfed all my babies so far.  One is only 5 months old, so he’s still going strong.  In 8 out 10, weaning was a sort of joint agreement.  They began to lose interest and I was happy to let them eat more solid food and nurse less until we both entirely forgot about nursing.  Those 8 were weaned anywhere from 12-20 months old.

In two cases, my sweet nursing baby began to transform into a demanding toddler who wanted to be nursed RIGHT NOW and didn’t deal well with delays.  Those children were gently but firmly weaned some time after their first birthdays (around 14-16 months, I think) primarily by breaking their schedules up a bit: I purposely delayed the first morning feeding by distracting them with food or a cup of milk; I nursed them a half hour before bed instead of just before bedtime, etc.  When they learned not to expect feedings at a concrete time, it became much easier to fill them up on solid food and drinks and entirely skip feedings, and over the course of a few weeks they were painlessly weaned.

Trisha Fleitz Truman:

What are your favorite non-fiction books?

Gencie Todd:

And parenting books?

Shepherding a Child's HeartGencie’s question is easy, because aside from the Bible I have one big favorite that I recommend to all parents: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp.  I love that the author constantly reminds parents to keep the goal in sight: not well-behaved children, but Christians who live to glorify God.  We don’t punish our children so they will be scared to disobey again; we discipline or disciple them to follow Christ.  This means making sure we get to the root of the sin, rather than just dealing with outward behavior which can create little Pharisees.  To do this, we need to engage our children and know their hearts and minds so we can understand how they think and feel, and what motivates their actions.

Trisha’s question is much harder.  If I try to give my Top Ten list, I know the instant I hit the Publish button I’ll think of 30 other books I should have named instead.  I’ll still try, but this list expires in 10 minutes so by the time you see it, it will no longer apply.  Fair?

Kim’s 10 Favorite Non-Fiction Books, besides the Bible.  duh.

  1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  This was a small book that kept me thinking for years.  I would love to read it again.
  2. Economics in One Lesson by Harry Hazlitt.  I felt so smart when I read this book in 10th grade. I have loved it ever since and think everyone in America should read it, starting with President Obama and our Congress.
  3. Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. This one revolutionized the way Perry and I saw and managed money.  We still do a lot of stupid stuff, but now we know when we’re being stupid.
  4. Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyzyn.  I grew up poor, but Amy’s classic taught me plenty of new tricks.  She also taught me that I wasn’t alone, and being frugal could be cool and respectable – or at least that we were in good enough company that we didn’t need to worry about what others thought of our frugal ways.
  5. 75 Bible Questions Your Instructors Pray You Won’t Ask by Gary North.  I don’t agree with everything Gary North does or writes and neither did my dad, but Dad assigned this to me in 7th or 8th grade.  It was the first theology book I ever read and was my first formal exposure to Reformed theology many long years ago.  It’s now available as a free pdf. 
  6. Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  You know the one with the red and white checked cover?  I received my copy as a wedding gift over 20 years ago and many of my favorite recipes originated here.  My girls have learned to cook largely from the same copy.
  7. The 3 R’s by Ruth Beechick.  This book greatly influenced the way I viewed education.
  8. Five in a Row by Jane Lambert.  Like #7 above, this contributed greatly to the way we have done school over the years, even as our children got much older.  We didn’t do it exactly as we did when they were young, of course, but adapted and adjusted to their growing abilities.
  9. The Fruit of Her Hands by Nancy Wilson.  I used to keep this by my bedside and read bits whenever I felt I was struggling as a young wife.
  10. The Self-Calmed Baby.  I learned a lot from this book as a new mother, and largely give this book credit for my mostly-happy, content babies who slept through the night at early ages.  I blame myself for the others.

It’s worth noting that while I still own most or all of these books, I haven’t read most of them in years.  These are not necessarily my top recommendations.  I put them on my list because they influenced me heavily as a young adult and have continued to do so even many years after I read and digested them.


How would you answer the questions above?

Did I answer your question?  Maybe one of the other moms did:


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  1. Just Me says:

    I’ve been reading your posts for a while now and I have to ask. Do homeschool parents think they are affording their children a “real” education? Public schools have teachers certified in various areas of education. Can a parent match that? Can a parent have knowledge in as many subjects as a multitude of teachers can in a public setting?

    My reason for asking is that I am married to someone who has 3 adult children who were all home schooled. Some of the children do not know such common information as to where the Pacific Ocean is located or their multiplication tables. Perhaps, these children just weren’t schooled as well but I don’t know how a parent can have as much knowledge as a multitude of teachers schooled in various subjects.

    Your thoughts and that of the readers of your blog?

    Again, thank you for your thoughts and insight. I am fascinated by your large family. Although my parents were only parents to two of us, my grandparents were parents to 13 with 2 sets of twins. Supersize families are interesting!

    • I hope others will jump in to answer you, because my time online is extremely limited. The short answer is, look at the evidence. In spite of your very limited personal experience, it is well established that homeschooled children consistently score significantly higher than public schooled children in all subjects. Many colleges and universities actively seek them out because of this.
      In regard to your husband’s adult children, you might be surprised at the number of public schooled adults who wouldn’t know those facts. Shocking, I know, but true. Just consider how many don’t even reach a basic level of literacy.
      But there is another answer that is summed up in this old post: Our Ultimate Goal in Homeschooling
      While we do strive to stretch our children’s minds and help them grow into intelligent adults who can express themselves effectively and do well at whatever they set their hands to, it *could* be that homeschooling families are aiming at a slightly different goal than public education, and so we measure success differently too.

    • Heather Wawa says:

      Another thing to remember is that homeschooling parents don’t need to know everything. They have books, curriculum, computer programs and other resources to help them teach their kids. Often they are learning or relearning things right along with their kids. Sometimes a parent does encounter something they don’t know or a question they can’t answer for their kids, in which case, there are many resources for finding those answers.

  2. Heather Wawa says:

    Thank you for addressing the question about kids having friends over. I was the one who asked the question and I really appreciate hearing how it works for you. Coming from a home where there were just two kids, sometimes I have trouble picturing in my mind how to make things work in our home with seven kids. Your home sounds like a nice place to be. 🙂

  3. This is very unrelated but I have no way of asking questions on the 4moms page because I do not have a facebook. I have recently begun potty training with my two year old son. He will be 3 in may. Some say this is too early but I am 18 weeks pregnant and I also have a 16 mo. old boy so I think at this point its a necessity. I finally got him to actually want to use the potty by putting him on a stool lifting the toliet seat and putting a cheerio in the toliet and having him aim. It is working great along with the reward of a jelly bean or chocolate chip. However he NEVER tells me he has to pee. If I don’t take him enough he just pees wherever. I have tried the just stick him in a shirt and let him run around without a diaper idea but It doesnt work because my 16 mo. old is very interested in saying “poke poke” and poking him..its very amusing to him because he has just recently discovered his own. Anyway I have absolutely no idea how to get him to tell me. If someone reads this and has a tip Help!!

    • Hello. I trained two boys before they were three completely. Don’t ask them. Just make sure you pop them on the toilet facing the seat so they can hold on themselves every 30 mins. or so. Gradually, the time will increase to every hour and then you know from there. Don’t ask. Just set them to the task. I never gave them treats. It was just done. The reward was a stack of brand new boxers just their size when they were trained. We all cheered and they were proud. Wahoo! Of course overnight was too long and we would take them to the toilet before we went to sleep even if we had to wake them up. And they were diapered at the beginning. But, not for long. You just have to get that diaper off FIRST thing in the morning. It’s ok if he doesn’t tell you. YOU just need to set him up there. Have fun!

      • Jamie, thanks for this comment. At 2 months shy of his 3rd birthday, Parker is our oldest diaper baby ever – with no signs of wanting to be pottytrained. I usually wait for them to *want* it, but I might just try your method with this guy.

  4. Thanks for answering the question someone asked about concealed carry. I will be getting my permit, and intend to carry all the time. What brand of belly band do you use? Do you find any shifting issues, drawing issues, or skirt issues come into play? I sure don’t want to always wear a belt!

  5. Just scrolled to the bottom of your page and see that you’re 63 weeks pregnant. My GOODNESS induce already! 😉

    • LOL! Oh Kacie. You make me laugh.

      Thanks Kim for the list of new reads to put on my library list!

    • I had left the baby ticker in the footer because it amused me, but I realized that there is a kernal of truth to it. On Sunday, I was wearing Calvin in a baby wrap and looked down to see my hands in their traditional place over my fully concealed baby, except that the baby inside was 18 lbs. and 5 months old. At that moment, I felt exactly 63 weeks pregnant.

Don't just think it: say it!

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