4 Moms Q&A: sportsmanship; relationships between widely spaced children; kids who think babies are too much work

Corrie asked, How do you get kids to like games and not be too competitive?

4moms35kids 4 Moms on tattlingCorrie, I’m putting your question front and center because we have the same problem and I would love to hear the input of others.

Until recently, we really didn’t play many games, and now we have found that some of the kids – especially the younger ones – are prone to poor sportsmanship.  Since the older ones don’t seem to have the same problem, I’m very hopeful that this is a symptom of immaturity that will disappear with more character training opportunities.  In the meantime, we just address the problem whenever it rears its ugly head.

If I hear somebody being a poor loser, I admonish him (why is it nearly always a boy?) to be happy for the winner and offer congratulations.  To be a poor sport is to covet another person’s victory.  Most of the time they shape right up and change their attitude.  If not, they are not allowed to play again until they are ready to do it with a good attitude.

If somebody wants to quit because they are losing (but the game isn’t over yet), they are usually allowed to graciously cede the game, realizing that this is an automatic loss.  If they are not being gracious about it, see above.

But if by “too competitive” you mean “really, really wants to win,” I don’t necessarily see a problem.  I want my children to do their very best at whatever they set their hands to, and playing a game is no different – unless they are kindly letting a much younger player have a rare taste of victory.  Then it’s nice to do a little less than their best.  But in general, I think wanting to win is a good thing.  The problem is when they have a sinful attitude toward others – pride, gloating, hurtful trash talk, and other types of unkindness.  Then we address the sin in the attitude, not the desire to win.

Inga Marie asks, How do you develop a sibling relationship between an adult child who has left home, and a new baby? I have a 22 yo, who is married with kids of her own, and a 20 mo old.

Kim C, I know you have been on both sides of this. How do you help Deanna have a sisterly relationship with Calvin, and how did you develop a sibling relationship with children who were either very young when you left home, or not born yet?


 What does a family with 14 children look like?Inga Marie, this question is a little painful for me.  That’s because I don’t think I found the answer for myself.  I was geographically separated from my family for 11 years, while 4 of my siblings were born and the younger ones grew from babies and toddlers into young adults.  Of course we visited when we could, but in my family it just wasn’t enough to create and keep strong connections, and I never felt like the younger ones considered me “one of the gang.”  I was more like an aunt.

I still remember the time we drove 1,400 miles to visit when the twins were toddlers.  Somebody told them I was their sister,  and they grinned at the silliness of the claim.  “No she’s not!” they shouted and giggled.  Since I have children the same ages as my four youngest siblings, it seems more natural to be an aunt than a sister.  It makes me a little sad, but maybe that’s just the way it is.

On the bright side, as we all get older and the age gaps seem to shrink, I think we do begin to feel closer.  It’s hard to feel close to a 9 year old you’ve only met a handful of times, but over the years those small meetings begin to add up and an age difference of 10 or 20 years can melt away in the presence of stronger bonds – like blood, family culture, and worldview.

I’m still not as close as I would like to be with most of my siblings but I think our relationships are still growing and changing, and I feel as much of a bond with the younger ones as with those I grew up with.

In Deanna’s case, she and her husband are geographically close and attend the same church as we do, so she is still very much a part of our lives.  I don’t think she will face the same struggle I did just to stay connected.  She has also been very good about reaching out and maintaining connections, even during that first year of marriage when it’s so easy to let relationships go while you focus on your new married life.

Heather is wondering, At what point do you allow your teen that is learning to drive, to drive the car with your little ones in it?


But fortunately Perry is less of a worrier than I am.  So far our teens have been been able to start out on quiet country roads with just Dad in the car.  Once he feels confident enough to let them drive in traffic, I think he also feels confident enough to let them drive with children in the car.

Notice I said, “I think.”  That’s because I don’t know, which is because I don’t ask.  I know that I worry too much about new drivers, so I find it easiest to live in blissful ignorance while Dad takes care of the driving lessons.  So far nobody has died and the cars are only slightly worse for the wear, so my plan seems to be working.

Amanda and Kimberly both want to know, How do you determine how closely to supervise small kids (preschool-ish) when at playdates? When it isn’t a safety issue, but a coaching-in-correct responses issue…When we’re at home I watch my boys like a hawk because I see many teachable issues and want to catch them. But I don’t want to be hovering, especially with other moms I respect whose kids are also well-behaved. Guidelines to share?

Oh, great question!  Can I just sit back and let wiser moms answer?  I have to confess that I get so caught up in chatting with my friends I often don’t pay enough attention to how the children are interacting.

I don’t recommend this, but if you find yourself in the same boat it is helpful to debrief your children afterward.  While you won’t be able to walk them through situations as they arise, at least you can pinpoint trouble areas to practice for and guard against next time.

Elizabeth asked, How do you handle things like make-up, heels, etc with your littler girls? My girls are (soon to be) 7, 5, 2. I have been lax with standards. I generally encourage modesty, by allowing the girls to follow their natural inclination to cover up. (One told me once that something I found perfectly acceptable made her feel “naked” I didn’t discourage her response! I let her cover to her heart’s content!) But they always want to wear make up out of the house, and frequently ask relatives to buy them high heels, and my oldest said it was because “Well, YOU wear it Mom!” Granted nobody sells inappropriate shoes in their sizes, but I wonder how I should handle their hurry to “look like a grown up!” I want them to be lovely, feminine, and put together. But I don’t want to encourage vanity, or the idea that they need to meet cultural ideals of beauty. But I do not want to discourage femininity either.
It doesn’t help that a lot of relatives say comments around them like “wait til their teenagers! Ha ha! Then you’ll REALLY be in trouble!

Elizabeth, I love that you didn’t discourage your daughter from covering more even though you felt she was sufficiently covered!  In general, I just tell our girls it isn’t modest for a young girl to try to look like a grown woman.  It’s a way of drawing undue attention to oneself, like heavy makeup, ostentatious behavior, or revealing clothes.  She can be beautiful in ways that are appropriate to her age, and her time as a grown-up will come soon enough.

Also from Elizabeth: how do you encourage your girls to value Biblical womanhood? My oldest says stuff all the time about how “Babies are hard work! I hope we don’t have TOO many! Ugh! When I grow up I’m NOT having ANY babies! I’ll be a Dentist instead!” I don’t want to respond with a punitive nature to these selfish statements, and cause her to carry more resentment, but I do want to emphasize the beauty and blessing that every child is. She is aware of our choice to allow God to choose our family size, and our anticipation of more babies. I know she isn’t hearing these statements from me, I’m very careful to model a love for children and babies, and a willingness to cheerfully parent each child I’m given, but this attitude persists. I don’t know if it is due to the fact, that as the oldest, she helps a lot. Just walk me through how you encourage a joyful love for Biblical Womanhood.

wpid IMAG1815 Snapshot : pool time!Elizabeth, occasionally one of my younger ones will say something like this.  I often answer with disbelief and a question: “What?! You don’t think Calvin is worth the work?  He is a lot of work, but I’m so glad we have him!  Would you rather we didn’t?”

Have you thought about asking your daughter why she feels that way?  Maybe a gentle line of questioning will help you understand better where these thoughts are coming from and why she feels this way.  Maybe she doesn’t really feel this way at all, but only complains to make conversation.  Maybe she does feel this way, but would respond readily to a reminder that each of these future potential babies would be as beloved as the younger sisters she already has.  Does she wish they were never born?  Remind her how sad and lonely you would be if you didn’t have her.

Do you have disapproving friends or family who might be planting these ideas, knowingly or unknowingly?  This is important to be aware of!

And I know you’re already doing your best to model a good attitude, but it never hurts to ask yourself again if there’s any chance she picked it up from you.  Do you  complain just a little?  Are you a silent martyr, suffering nobly for all to see?  (I sometimes am!)  Maybe your good attitude isn’t as obvious on the outside as you think, and you can be more vocal in your joyful parenting. wpid IMAG1810 Snapshot: at the park


How would you answer these questions?  See what questions the other moms have to say this week:

About 4 Moms, including a list of past topics


  1. On kids not wanting kids, I told my daughters to never say never, you just don’t know what will be in your heart or where God will lead you when you grow up. Mostly though I have found that the comments on not having kids or how many kids comes from a place of selfishness. When the selfishness eventually gets address they talk differently about siblings and kids of their own.

    I don’t wear makeup so my kids have not desired it as more than a dress up thing when their friends want to play in it, it is amazing what kids pick up from their parents. I have never once had anyone say to me, “you’d me so much pretty if you’d just wear make-up” Instead I hear self criticism, things like “I don’t feel dressed without makeup” or “my skin isn’t nice or even enough” or what do you say about yourself without make-up? For me it is, my skin gets bad with make-up causing me to need to wear more heavier make-up, creating a dependency, without makeup, yes I have freckles, and the occasional blemish, but overall healthy clear skin, and I feel beautiful, I have talked about make-up this way with my almost 12 year old, and she agreed that make-up should not be a daily thing

  2. In reference to the biblical womanhood Q & A, do you think a woman can’t be a doctor? Is there anything wrong with that? What if she hasn’t marry yet? What if she NEVER gets married?

    Thanks in advance for your response!

  3. My daughter wants to wear makeup. She’s four. I told her no war paint until she’s old enough to go to war. 😉

  4. I always said “No, I am never ever having kids” when I was younger, and now out of my siblings I am the one with the most kids. Sometimes people change their minds.

    As for my own kids, our second and third daughters arent really that interested in babies and small children at all. Theyre not the sort of people who will get excited over the amazing cuteness overload of having a new baby, and dont really want to have any of their own. They like their siblings, thats pretty clear, but they dont like having to look after the babies for long, and dont have much of an interest in having their own. Most of our kids were adopted, and I know for a fact that in these two girls first home, they had to care for their youngest siblings from being very young as their birth mother was neglecting them. Im thinking maybe thats something to do with it in our case, so Im not pushing it or expecting them to have a large family, after all, its their lives. I dont really expect my kids to make the exact same choices as I do-as long as theyre not doing anything immoral. They dont have my personality, they are unique and when theyre adults they can choose what suits them. If I pushed all my kids into being mini clones of me, they would grow up miserable.

    I think its different for the original poster though, as it seems like they are Quiverfull, so theres also the religious expectation for having loads of children. Its always good to talk things through-talk to her, find out why she thinks the way she does, and dont judge her or anything. I think pushing her into loving babies and wanting a large family will push her further away from wanting one.

  5. Thank you for addressing both of my very wordy questions! 🙂 I never thought of make up as an application of modesty. I just didn’t think of the two as being connected.

    Thank you also for your honesty on the baby issue. Knowing that your children pop out with the same words every now and then reminds me that at its heart, parenting is about confronting sin appropriately, and teaching our children to confront the sin as well. Between this post and a lovely chat with another Mom at the park this morning, I have a lot of good Godly advice to think on and apply.

    Thank you (to all the 4 Moms.) for your ministry of Motherhood and blogging, it has been a blessing. 🙂

  6. In terms of children several years apart: My oldest sister and I are 10 years apart. When we were growing up, I have to say I didn’t like her much. She was just a bossy older sister to me. She left home when I was 7. Once grown up, though, we have developed a VERY close friendship and bond. I agree, Kim, once both of you are older, the age difference seems to disappear.

  7. Regarding the question about being competitive, I love the way you handled that, Kim! To want and to strive to win is a GOOD thing 😀 I have all boys and they can be VERY competitive. We deal with the other issues you mentioned but I never thought of it in terms of coveting the other person or team’s ‘win’. The other bad attitude we watch for is blaming and being critical of others when lose.

    One thing we do – the boys have played in a recreational soccer league and on the way to every game we remind them, and we pray to be gracious winners and gracious losers.


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