Honing Your "Mommy Radar"

There's this wise woman I know named Elizabeth.  Mom of ten, author of Raising Godly Tomatoes, she really has tons of wisdom to pour out, and she shares freely and generously each day through her (free) website, and online forums, as well as through the book she recently published.  I've been reading back through her book, and came across this wonderful quote.

Here's a gem from her book (which I *highly* recommend... as in, if I can only recommend one book -- other than the Bible -- to a young mom, this is the one I recommend):

"I have what I call "Mommy Radar". It goes off whenever I sense something needing correction. I'm not sure how I acquired Mommy Radar, but I suspect I've had it all along and just didn't know. What I thought was irritability was perhaps at times really the beginnings of Mommy Radar or Mommy Radar being ignored. 
You see, it used to annoy me when my children whined, complained, or argued with me. It frustrated me when I had to request something multiple times before they'd do it, and it upset me even more when they would do it, but do it grudgingly. Slow obedience bothered me too, and sneakiness, and laziness, and so on. Because I was new in my parenting career, I thought that all these things that annoyed me were "normal" for children to do. I thought I needed to learn to somehow tolerate all of these until they "grew out of it".

Since then I've wised up. Now I know they won't grow out of it if I don't put some effort into training it out of them. If I want better behavior I'd better do something to make it happen."

It is so critical to develop, and then listen to, that "mommy radar" Elizabeth talks about.  Gregg Harris put it this way: "Train them until you *like* them."

Dads often get this. I've heard countless stories of young dads telling their wives something they need to cut out, add in, stop doing, or start doing, with their child, and all too often the young mom scoffs and allows the child to keep doing what annoys her husband.  Listen to your husband!  If he is annoyed by it, others are too!  If you are internally annoyed by something, others are too.

 As parents, we are in the business of raising up, sharpening, and shaping these little "arrows" so that they can be shot to the far reaches of the earth for God's use.  It all begins with listening to those little annoyances that God means to spur us on toward training them to be enjoyable, pleasant people. To you- mom of a little one- be encouraged!  If there is something rubbing you the wrong way that you see in your child, God gave you that vantage point so that you can *do something* about it.  He has put you in a unique position where you not only SEE but where He has given you the *authority* to deal with those issues in your child.  Be faithful!  Be diligent! Listen to that "mommy radar" and put in the consistent daily work necessary to help your child be shaped and sharpened for God's use.


Miranda said...

Very encouraging Jess!

Allison said...

As I write this, my kids are actually down for naps early today because they are driving me up the wall with whining. So I really, really appreciate this!

My question though, is this, what, practically speaking down you do about these things? For example, I have a 4 year old son, and this morning, I instructed him to get in his carseat (something he's proven capable of in the past). While he DID obey, he took way to long to do it, needed an additional reminder that he wasn't to stop and look out the window but get in, and then when he did get in, he got in sitting on his knees and turned around backward. TECHNICALLY speaking, he obeyed, but like she stated in that segment, it irritated me because I know he was disobeying in his heart. But is it proper to spank him when he technically did obey? And if I do discipline him for such behavior, how do I explain to him why he's being disciplined?

I cannot agree more that it's a problem, and sometimes I think my 4 year old has realized that he cannot blatantly disobey without being disciplined, so he's now searching for ways to get around the process and still persist in his sin and it infuriates me. HELP! Any practical tips for a mom like me?

Jess said...

Yes, so in that situation, instead of allowing him to continue & persist in subversively disobeying you, work to train him in the way he should go. Train him in the way he *should* do it.

"You can walk more quickly than that. Don't delay obeying mom."

"You're in your seat, but you're not faced the right way. Turn the right way please. Good. Now do that *every* time mom asks you to get in your seat. Yes ma'am?"

If you want practical specifics, I'd highly recommend that you go to raisinggodlytomatoes.com and read there for practical, specific insights. She's done such an excellent job laying it out there that I really don't need to reinvent the wheel.

Throughout each day, take those little opportunities to train your children. Not to be robots... but to do things in a way where they are listening to you and responding rightly to your instructions.

Proverbs 1:8 says "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching."

It's our job as parents to teach our children and see that they listen & obey it. Each day... throughout the day... teaching, loving, training, snuggling, helping them grow into pleasant people who are useful in God's hands.

kharking said...

I'm in the process of trying to discern the difference between things that bother me because they are training or sin issues and things that are simply my or my husbands preferences and may be unrealistic or age-inappropriate particularly with the little ones that we have now. I'd like to think that I'm likely to come down harder on the things that seem to be heart problems like whining or disobedience or unkindness to siblings and let things like playing loudly (when the baby isn't sleeping) or wanting to be around me all the time go as things that are just part of being a little person. Maybe the first things are part of their training and sanctification and the second are part of mine :).

kharking said...

I think that the one thing that bothers me about what you said about the father's role is that my husband tends to see something that the kids are doing that might legitimately be wrong and both assumes that I am doing nothing about it on a daily basis when he isn't there and that he has no responsibility to address it himself when he might be present. I don't mind being the primary person to deal with issues and training when I am the one with them during the day but I do resent him thinking that I am either clueless or the only parent when he is around. Obviously I'm grumpier about this than I should be so I'll take this as a sign that we should be communicating better on this issue.

Jess said...

kharking- in regard to your last comment, don't hear me advocating that dad should be able to do "Monday quarterbacking" and not lift a finger to help.

What I am saying is that I have heard enough women laugh about not following insights their husband is trying to give... for example, "we need to teach them to sleep better at night! This waking up 3x a night business is ridiculous!" Or, "she's ___ years old. Let's ditch the pacifier."

Or they belittle their husband's insight-- for example, "he just doesn't know about child development as much as I do, therefore, his perspective on Suzie's tantrums can be ignored."

When in fact, in each of those situations, dad is bringing a reasonable and sanity-saving perspective to the table. Teach the kid to sleep well. Get rid of the unnecessary thing that they whine for. Stop the tantrums.

See what I mean?

And yes, I definitely absolutely 100% advocate for clear, open, honest, FREQUENT, on-going communication about parenting. In every marriage. This should definitely be a big topic of discussion, especially in the early years when philosophies are being formed, approaches to specific challenges are being figured out, etc.

Thanks for your comments, and for giving me the opportunity to put a little more "flesh" on the bones of what I said in the post.

Allison said...


I just wanted to say thank you for the input. I did go to her website and read a TON of what the author had to say. It was actually quite helpful! Thank you so much. :)