Q. I received a request to address the very hard issue of how to respond to abuse in a home, either as the abused person or a friend.
A. I wish I had adequate words to address this, but I’ll try. First, thanks for the reminder and the chance to address this important topic again. I wish it wasn’t so important. I wish it never happened so we never needed to know anything about it at all. I also wish no baby ever died and that cancer was only a constellation of stars or a geographical landmark. But we live in a fallen world.
As I said, I have written about it before, and I’d like to share these two posts in the hope that they will be of use others, whether those others be somebody in these circumstances, or a friend of somebody in them. In fact, I am going to ask that you read them even if you think it will never happen to you or that you do not know anybody who could possibly be dealing with this. You might be shocked to know what some of your friends endure :
http://heartkeepercommonroom.blogspot.com/2011/08/for-hurting-homes.html (read the comments, too, because some women who have been there also weigh in)
Q. Do you teach character? What curriculum do you use?
A. As Cindy at Ordo Amoris taught me, avoid ‘character-training’ programs. You really just need Proverbs and a good understanding of history. Read lots of biographies.
Proverbs should be part of your family’s warp and woof.
Read through Proverbs over and over. An easy way to do this is to read through the Proverbs chapter that matches the day’s date. You can do this for years and it never gets old.
You can also add a specific assignment- as they read, have them keep notes on a sheet of notebook paper divided in half vertically. At the top of the left side of the page write down the heading ‘Fools’ and at the top of the right side of the page write down the heading “The wise”. As they read each day’s chapter have them make a list of any of the marks of a fool or the wise beneath the appropriate heading. (this is an excerpt from here)
Q. how do you know how much food to make to feed everyone?
A. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! I am laughing because I am famous in our circles for cooking more food than an army could eat. I hate the thought of somebody leaving my table hungry. So we usually have leftovers for lunches. More seriously, you just sort of by guess and by golly it, watching your eaters. An you have to continue to be observant, because eating habits will change. That said, when the budget is tight, and when is it not, it’s worked for me to plan a minimum number of servings of the most expensive part of the meal or the main dish, and then have enough side dishes (sliced fruit) or a decent amount of an inexpensive filler on the side, so nobody leaves hungry, but neither are they filling themselves to the gills with the highest priced items on the table. In addition to the usual basic rice, noodles, bread, and mashed potatoes, you could try stuff like:
Make a first course of soup to take the edge off.
Fan-cut baked potatoes
Caraway seed bread (both a soaked grain and a regular version)
Roasted winter vegetables (if you have leftovers of this, they go nicely in a pot pie or in soup the following day)
Make your own batch of biscuit mix and you can set out extra biscuits (or cheesey biscuits) in a jiffy.
Q. How do you talk about abstinence and preparing your children for that time when they marry.
Q. Have any of you had difficulty getting pregnant?
There is a six year gap between our second and third biological children (we filled the gap with adoption, but that was later). There is another six year gap after that. And our baby is 14 and he’s not the baby because we made that choice. None of those gaps were my choice. One of them…. well, let’s look to the next question:
Q. Has your husband ever wanted to stop having kids before you were ready?
A. I think about two years of the first 6 year ga between babies was my husband’s choice. He did not want more children. We are not allowed to discuss this history much because it hurts him. Anyway, my husband is a reasonable man and when I said, “Since I want more kids and you don’t, is it really fair to make me be the one responsible for preventing it?” And his eyes widened and he said, “Oh. Duh, of course that’s not right. I will be responsible. And after about six months of that, he said, ‘forget that, let’s make a baby,’ and there was great rejoicing- only…. we still did not make a baby. Because….
The goal is to glorify God and to trust Him, in our case, with both fertility and family size. That means you may have no children or one, or ten. Or twenty. That means you may have multiple miscarriages. That means you might adopt one, two, a dozen, or some other number. It might mean secondary infertility, late term miscarriages, and years of no babies when you are so baby hungry every monthly cycle or phone call from a newly expectant friend might end with you huddled in a corner of the bathroom sobbing over your empty arms. It has meant all of those things at some point in our lives.
These are our convictions for our family. Obviously, we think they are good, right, and true, or we would not hold these convictions.
However, we are not in the habit of counting other people’s children and coming to a conclusion about whether they had or have enough or whether they trust God or not.
Q. And a questions that may be hard for you to answer, but i get comments about the fact that I have only one (kinda like your comments about too many) and I don’t want to explain all the above, but the comments are hurtful. Any great response. I usually say that she is all God blessed us with, but I still feel hurt in the end.
A. I am so sorry. Human beings are just so very thoughtless far too often. I have been there, or close to there, when we were asked if were ‘done yet’ when I really wanted so much NOT to be ‘done.’ And then when our son turned out to be our last baby and first boy and folks would say, “OHHHH, so you FINALLY got your BOY and now you’ve quit,” and I was not ready to quit, I wanted another baby, and no, we were not trying for a boy, but who would believe me? Ugh.
Anyway- nothing really takes the sting away all together. These are things I found sometimes made it a little better, depending on my mood. Um… I should say that some of these things I only imagined doing, I never actually did them, but thinking about ‘what if I really answered this way…” made me feel better. You can guess which are real and which are imagined:
I reminded myself of the dumb and hurtful comments I have inadvertently made before.
I say, “it’s a little complicated, and if you don’t mind, I’m not comfortable discussing it,” and change the subject.
I say in a sweet conversational tone, “You know, Miss Manners always says to answer those sorts of awkward questions with an astonished frozen smile, and perhaps a chilly, “I beg your pardon,” but I’ve never had the nerve to do that. What do you think about her advice?”
I burst into tears and ran to the bathroom, sobbing, “It’s too painful to talk about.”
I said things like, “Oh, no, he’s not our only boy. He’s just the first one we liked enough to let out of the basement.”
When asked if I was ‘done’ yet, I would sniff the air and say, “Why, did the oven timer ring?”
I changed the subject without answering.
Q. How did you emotionally prepare for number two? I know this was several babies ago for everyone! I’m specifically wondering about loving #2 as much as #1, having babies in such drastically different stages and with such different needs (#1 is walking and learning to talk, verses a newborn who will want to nurse constantly – if past experience holds true), and any suggestions for making the transition easier.
A. I worried about all the same things you are worrying about and the worry about loving the second as much as the first evaporated quicker than water on a hot skillet the second I saw my baby. Love is not divided in a large family, it multiplies. You will be tired and frazzled for a while, but then you won’t remember much about that stage so it’s okay. And you will figure out what works for you and how to muddle through the rest.
What do you do for lodging on long trips? Are there other options besides two hotel rooms?
A. We found out about the two hotel room thing when we went from three to five children overnight – my husband would go to the hotel and say, “We have seven/eight/nine of us, including a special needs child, and I am not paying for two rooms. They usually gave us a room. We slept like a litter of puppies all over the beds that were available, and we brought sleeping bags and slept on the floor. Half the world sleeps on the floor as a matter of course.
We brought a tent and pitched it every night and took it down every morning (9 of us made the circuit of the Olympic peninsula that way)
We are an ex military family and we have lived in half the country and where we haven’t been, we have friends from there. We stay with a huge network of friends, church family, and even, sometimes, families we have first met only on the internet.
How do you teach your children to not make messes
I never did. I learned (mostly) to sto making comparisons.
I learned about daily CLUTTER PATROLS!
I also stressed more “When you make a mess, you clean the mess” than I cared about not making the mess in the first place. Messes to me are vital to the creative workings of the brain.