Four Moms, Q and A


The 4 Moms of 35+ Kids are changing our structure, basically switching the current format of three weeks of assigned topics and one week of Q and A.   From now on 3 of us will be answering Q&A every Thursday, and once a month all 4 of us will write on some preassigned topic.

To have your question considered for our weekly Q&A, leave it on our 4 Moms Facebook page.


How do you explain (to your children) about immediate/extended family who are living a lifestyle that is not in line with our beliefs. We plan to simply teach the truth and show love and grace to our families, but at some point our kids are going to ask “if ‘x’ is a sin, why does ‘so and so’ do that?” I think I’d know how to handle that if an uncle used a bad word or something, but what about larger subjects?

We have had to answer questions about why a favorite aunt and uncle are no longer married to each other, why Grandad smokes, why is Grandad married to a different lady? Again. How many wives does he have, anyway? Why doesn’t my Uncle believe in God?

I would answer “If ‘x’ is a sin, why does so and so do that’ with: “Because that is one of the ways so and so sins. Remember that we are all sinners, and If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ”

Or if I were not interested in discussing how sinful Grandad may or not be, we go with a variation of, “We’re not going to worry about what Grandad is doing. We have to do the best job we can with our family in our home, and this is what Daddy and I feel is best for our family.”

Or… if the relative in question isn’t a Christian at all, then that’s what we say, “Because he doesn’t believe in God, and it’s hard enough for Christians to act like Christians sometimes, we don’t expect unbelievers to share our standards when their hearts are unconverted. And then we talk about what really matters.

Also, how did you attend evening bible studies without leaving your kiddos with someone else?

I confess to feeling a little bit confuzzled, like Winnie the pooh about this question. We just brought them with us. If they needed to sleep, they fell asleep in our arms, or on a blanket on the floor nearby.

But then, we have always been unconventional about bedtime. I did not know we were unconventional until a friend of my daughter’s asked her what time her bedtime was, and my daughter said she didn’t have one. This was, of course, duly reported back to the girl’s mother (I don’t know, but I sometimes imagine it was along the lines of “Why do I have a bedtime when SHE doesn’t?”). Her mother did not believe it, it was so bizarre to her.

Do you use the “buddy system” like I’ve seen on the Duggars? And if so, at what age do you pair up an older with a younger? And what duties does the older buddy do for the younger and what do you not give the responsibility for? Our oldest is 6 1/2, youngest is 6 months, (3 others in between) and we’re considering having the oldest and youngest pair up in another year or so and having the oldest help with carseat in and out, serving/cutting food, help getting dressed, brushing teeth etc.

I have never watched the Duggars or read their stuff (no reason, other than busy. We do have mutual friends in real life), so I don’t know if it is just like that, but yes, we did the buddy system. I don’t recall exactly when we started, but our family dynamic is a little bit different, because, as I’ve shared before, we had three kids with six years between kid 2 and kid 3, and then we had 24 hours notice and got two new kids who fit in that 6 year gap and turned kid 3 into kid 5.=) Life was… hectic.

It took us a while to find our feet- they came right before Christmas, and six months later we bought a large farm house and moved in and then we got chickens. And goats. And my husband went to Saudi Arabia and we…. didn’t. Then there the scabies. But anyway- I believe we began the buddy system about a year after the adoptions. Our kids would then have been 3, 4, 6(but with multiple delays), 9, and 10. The 9 year old was buddy to the 6 year old- I don’t remember why, exactly, but I do know the 9 year old always had a special affinity for the Cherub, and vice versa (Until the Equuschick got married, and I am not sure the Cherub has forgiven her yet). The 10 year old, I think, was buddy to the youngest, because we had some attachment issues to work out with the 4 year old and me. When the next two babies came along the older five girls were then 6, 7, 9, 12 and 13. The 12 year old was still buddy to the 9 year old/3red child, the older girl was buddy to the youngest of the five, and the second youngest was my assistant with babies.
Duties included making sure their buddy had shoes on when we left the house and coats and mittens if needed; getting them out to the car and buckled in; assisting with food at the table and at potlucks, and dressing them after baths. I don’t think we had them help with brushing teeth, except for the Cherub. At least, that is how I remember it.
I have said this before, but while this sort of assistance from older children is frowned on in our culture (usually by people who imagine they are open to many cultures), the idea that older children have duties and responsibilities for and to their younger siblings is standard practice in many other cultures, often going back for thousands of years.  Remember that it’s not fair to give responsibility without giving authority as well.

What are your favorite dinner recipes that your families like?

I have a bunch on our family’s cooking blog, The Common Kitchen.

What age do your girls shave their legs?
I left this entirely to their discretion, which meant that they started younger and younger as time went on.

How do you approach teaching self-defense/getting the bad guys with your little ones(I’m thinking ages 3-5). I’m asking this in light of Jesus’ command to pray for our enemies. How do you direct and temper their play?

We are not pacifists. We believe it is acceptable to defend oneself and mandatory to defend the weak and defenseless. However, in general, at that age we directed them to only aim their weapons at wild animals, not people.

what are some tips for nurturing your marriage when you’re always busy and exhausted from having all littles and a newborn?

I just wrote about this last week.=)

When watching a movie as a family, how do you keep all the questions,comments, needless talking down? We are a family of four right now and I am constantly saying “sshhhh”. Do you have a no talking rule during the movie?

This is a personal choice. I am a no talking while watching the movie person myself, and eventually, our kids all figured this out. You continue the shushing, you say, “Keep watching and you’ll figure it out,” and sometimes you stop the movie to explain. And sometimes, if you have a really persistent talker who talks to just hear themselves talk, you warn them ahead of time that if they have to be shushed more than three times in the movie, they will be ‘encouraged’ to go color quietly in another room. The HG has married into a family of people who talk all the way through the movie. This baffles the HG and I, but the HG is the one who has to figure it out, not I.=)

How do you handle household chore training with little ones? My children are 5, 3 & 17mos.

I have  written some  about that here.

What do you do when mama is sick? I feel like I’ve barely gotten any schoolwork done all month because of illness.

We don’t get a lot done. At various times I have had to lay on the couch to direct school and housework. But we don’t worry about it overly much anymore (I used to stress over it), because I don’t believe in summer vacation. We school through the year and take breaks when we want to/need to. For example, at our house, next week is a week off of school because it’s time for us to have a week off of school. We also take off a large chunk of hunting season so the Boy can put deer on our table. When Mama is sick is a great time for the kids to learn compassion, obedience when nobody is watching, how to be helpful, and other things as well.
Thanks for your questions!  I’ll try to get to more next week!  Meanwhile, my oldest daughter is starting a new weekly feature here- Thrifty Teusdays!  It’s a link, so feel free to join us and share your thrifted finds or your ideas on how to make the best of them.  She’s been selling thrifted finds online since she was about 15 years old (before that, she sold them at consignment stores), and she will be having quite a few tips to share.  Come see!


Visit the other Four Moms and see what they have to say!

Life in a Shoe

Kim at Life in a Shoe, homeschool grad, mama to a family of 13



raising olives button Raising Olives, married 15 years, mama to 11, homeschooling graduate herself-  She’s taking a break from the Four Moms for a bit- joining us once a month for a q and A post.  The rest of us are taking a break by switching to all Q and A, at least for a while. Connie at Smockity Frocks, married 25 years, mom to 8. We were blog buddies for a year or two before we realized that we had very dear mutual friends in real life. How cool is that?!
Me, DeputyHeadmistress and former Zookeeper (I gave up keeping a zoo when coyotes and coons killed our chickens) of this blog, The Common Room and our cooking blog, The Common Kitchen; married 30 years, mom to seven plus unofficial foster mom to two little boys, Mama-in-Law to two, and Grandmama to five blessings under 3, and yes we are very proud.=)


We four moms also wrote a book together, and you can buy the Four Moms parenting book, which you can get as a Kindle or as an e-book document:

Here’s where to get more information on how to buy our parenting ebook or become an affiliate, which is another way of making some extra income.


See my other Kindle books, too:

101 Answers to the Summertime, “Mom, I’m Bored” Blues; help your kids use their free time creatively and productively. Give them ideas that will help them use their time and energy to create, to learn, to grow- to contribute. This is not your average ‘keep the kids out of your hair’ book.

Required Poems for Reading and Memorizing (annotated); Charming collection of older poems that you and the kids just might love.

Ten Low-Carb Snacks and Quick Meals Okay, actually, there’s a little more than ten, and they aren’t merely low-carb, they are also sugar-free, grain-free, gluten free. NOT dairy-free.

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  1. Anonymous this time
    Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    The younger kids had an older sister who was, for a time, “living a lifestyle that is not in line with our beliefs” (she has now completely come back). This older sister got pregnant. I used that as a teaching moment, pointing out, not how “wrong” this was, but how this was clearly not a good choice for her.

    She had various options: She could kill the baby (the thought of which horrified ALL of us). She could marry the father (and, for various reasons, that would have been a BAD choice). She could give the baby away for adoption (and lose contact with her own child). She could be a single mother, and deal with all the problems that would come her way trying to raise a child alone. Her school year was shot, and she would find it difficult to finish high school at any time in the future. In fact, all of her choices for the future would be affected by this action of hers. — “And do you see now, kids, why we tell you that you shouldn’t have sex until you have chosen someone whom you love and trust enough that you want to spend the rest of your life with him/her, and in fact have mutually made that commitment?”

    To follow up on the story of the older sister: She moved back home with us, had the baby, and eventually found and married a wonderful man who makes a good father for that child and now for the other children that they have. But she was lucky, and her life choices are still more limited than they could otherwise have been. (On the other hand, my wife says that that child saved her life by making her grow up very quickly, and getting her off the path of self-destruction that she was on).

  2. Kirsten
    Posted March 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I was the one who asked about evening Bible studies. I’ve read you before talking about lack of bedtimes, which yes, still does astound me 🙂 Not because I think it’s bad, I just can’t imagine it. Did your children just adapt to the different routine or did you find they were crankier in the mornings after being up late?

    I only have one baby so far, so obviously I don’t have a lot of experience in the area, and quite honestly it would be easier if our children grew to stay up late and have a flexible schedule. My husband works from home sometimes and spends the rest of the time out on jobs, and our days never look the same from one to the next. But the conventional wisdom seems to be that babies do best on a schedule, and he does seem to be happier when we get him to bed early (6ish). He is almost 6 months.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted March 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      For the first 15 years of our marriage (so right up to when our last baby was born), my husband worked swing shift- he left for work after lunch and came home after midnight. We kept to his schedule and slept in late- except the Equuschick who woke up early to eat but then would be cajoled into playing quietly nearby while I went back to bed. By following his routine, they got to see their Daddy, unlike most of his co-workers who saw their kids on weekends. I did have one child who took two naps until she was around 3 or 4, and she still *needed* a full nap when she was 6. and one child essentially put herself to bed early after a while. But I had another child who quit napping at 20 mos.

      I think some babies may thrive better on a schedule, but I do not agree that all babies do best on a schedule, and I did not schedule my babies at all. We did have bedtime routines- they just weren’t at the same time each night. When I noticed that they were getting tired, I got them ready for bed. But quite often, we all ended up in my bed- I would read aloud until they fell asleep or I got tired, then I would read my own books while they looked at books or fell asleep, and when my husband got home he carried them to bed, or woke the olders to tell them to go to bed, and shoved the littlest out of his way and crawled into bed with us. I am just not a scheduled person. Having to live on a schedule makes me twitchy.

      We may have just lucked out- the HG’s children and the EC’s children definitely need to go to bed earlier and they get up earlier, too.

  3. Lady M
    Posted March 3, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    “I would answer “If ‘x’ is a sin, why does so and so do that’ with: “Because that is one of the ways so and so sins. Remember that we are all sinners, and If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ‘”

    I LOVE this. It is so easy to take a situation that is clearly not in line with Christian beliefs and when discussing with the children how it is wrong and we don’t aspire to it (blah, blah, blah) – end up making ourselves look holier-than-thou and the children end up thinking themselves better because they did not do that particular sin!

    We also use it as a good jumping point to remind them about how our (poor) decisions often effect others in ways we never thought about (ie someone gets divorced and we have to explain why they are on their 3rd wife, their cousin is from the 2nd wife, they are no longer directly related by marriage to the cousin’s sister, blah, blah, blah….

  4. Posted December 18, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    I was the “asker” of the question about family members and how to explain a sinful lifestyle. I want to add to my question. Maybe some others have experience.
    My MIL is divorced and is living in a same sex relationship (her 2nd since the divorce over 15 years ago) She lives close by, is a wonderful lady (as is her partner) and we end up spending a decent amount of time with them. The partner is treated as another grandmother by some of the family but we do not call her “grandma” or anything similar. MIL is not extremely open or blatant about her situation, but everyone knows what it is. She knows we do not believe her to be in a right relationship, but we all manage to get along just fine.
    The problem is figuring out if our children should really be spending lots of time witnessing this and somehow normalizing it? I’ve had this concern brought to me by fellow believers. My 4 and 3yo are beginning to get curious about where people sleep and who’s room is this, etc. How do you tell a 4yo that Grandma and “friend” share this room, this bed? Also knowing that whatever you tell the children will likely be repeated for other family members to hear, which could come across the wrong way…
    Does it make sense to say “this is the way so and so sins?” in this situation? It almost seems to trivialize it from the standpoint that they will have so many positive, loving memories of grandma and “friend” that could cause them to question a God who would condemn their choices. (My husband’s main concern) It only complicates matters even more that MIL and friend are fairly devout Catholics (minus the obvious) and have religious paraphanelia all over the place. Very mixed messages for young children, right? Or am I overthinking this?
    Sorry to post a novel in the comments! Delete if necessary or reply in email if desired. I just had to put my questions down for a night. Thanks.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted December 19, 2013 at 5:55 am | Permalink

      Hard, hard situation. This is how my family handled a situation very similar- and by my family, I mean first my parents, and later my siblings and I. One difference is that my relative’s ‘partners’ were not live-ins, and not part of the family, although as he grew older, there was one particular friend we did meet from time to time.

      His situation and circumstances relative to that sin in his life were simply never personally addressed at all. My parents taught us plainly what God’s word said that, as well as other things. My relative was much beloved. Gradually, at some point, I realized on my own that my relative was gay. I thought my parents didn’t know, and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, so I didn’t say anything. The same thing happened with my younger brothers. We never did have any questions about his lifestyle because by the time we figured it out, we were well grounded in the truth about that lifestyle, and we loved him just the same. I never told my children, either, and eventually, they also figured it out, and there no questions because by the time they figured it out, they already were old enough to understand. Incidentally, neither I nor my married brother told our spouses when we got married. About four or five years after we got married we told them, and they already knew. It was obvious enough to them that they’d figured it out early on (My husband says he knew the first time he met this relative, but he didn’t tell me because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings). I find it interesting that both our spouses knew almost immediately, yet we were well into our teens before we realized.

      As a teen-ager, I also babysat for two women who had, I presume, left their husbands for each other, each bringing a daughter with them. I say I presume this, because the subject never came up. They shared a room that had a single double bed in it, and the girls shared a bedroom. I assumed they were a couple, but I never asked and they never said anything, and I was only about 80 percent sure.

      One of the reasons I find books like Heather has two mommies so insidious is simply that- children really don’t make the connections and think about relationships sexually in the way teens and adults do. To them, most adult ‘couplings’ are platonic room-mates, even parents. So in your case, personally, I probably wouldn’t say anything at all specifically about that personal relationship, and I would address what God says about that lifestyle at the same time that they learn about any other sexual sins.

      While I wish with all my aching heart that my much loved relative had lived a very different sort of life (his lifestyle probably weakened his health and contributed to his far too early death), one blessing is that rather than confusing me, I was very much able to love the sinner while hating the sin.

      • Posted December 19, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        Thank you so much for your thoughts on this. I think it is a good opportunity to develop an attitude of loving the sinner while hating the sin, rather than becoming so self righteous and smug by, say, ceasing to have a relationship with her. That seems like a more fear based reaction now that I think about it. Her sin is no more contagious than any other. I still dread the days when my children have to face the reality of sin and unbelief in the people they love. I always feel so ill equipped to say the right things in those situations. No wonder so many give up on it or leave it to the Sunday school teachers…

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