Are You Ignoring Your Mommy Radar?

Over the years, in myself and others, I’ve observed a tendency toward laziness as moms. I’m not talking about laziness in how we clean, decorate, dress our children, or save money for our family. No, in those ways we can be quite purposeful and diligent.

What I mean is this: many of us tend to lazily overlook the things our children are doing, even when those things agitate or frustrate us. God has given us an internal alert system that points us to the very areas on which we should focus in our children, but we ignore it, and thus, opt for laziness in our mothering.

When we do that, it is to our shame, and to our children’s detriment

Are You IGNORING Your "Mommy Radar?" //

Elizabeth, a wise mom of ten, author of Raising Godly Tomatoes, and friend of mine, said it this way:

“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.

Dads often understand this implicitly. 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 the thing that annoys her husband.

Young mom, can I tell you something straight? Listen to your husband!

  • If he is annoyed by it, others are too!
  • If you are internally annoyed by something, others are too.

You’re the one God has put in their lives, day in, day out, to help correct these things. No one else has the God-given authority, or the ability to exercise it, the way you do– with consistency and love!

When you get that check in your spirit to deal with something in your child’s attitude, behavior, response, or words, don’t:

  • ignore it and keep browsing Facebook on your phone.
  • wait for it to escalate
  • try to distract or mollify your child
  • keep sitting in front of your computer.
  • just let it go “one more time”

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. No one else is going to do this job for you.

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 who is agitating you with her rudeness, or bothering you with his disobedience, be encouraged!

When something in/about your child rubs you the wrong way, 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 you HAVE the *authority,* given by God, to deal with those issues in your child.

Be faithful today!

Be diligent over time!

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.

Click here to purchase Elizabeth Krueger’s book, Raising Godly Tomatoes.

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast ( I write and wrangle kids.

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23 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    Sometimes it’s my mommy radar, and sometimes it’s my introverted-ness clashing with her extro-vertedness. My daughter talks a lot! But this isn’t a bad thing…we do quiet her sometimes….it’s how she processes. So I step out of my comfort zone and have times during the day when she’s allowed to jabber away.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Yes, those personality things are definitely areas where we have to thoughtfully consider… am I annoyed because this is sinful, or just because this is different?

      That said, extroverts do need (like you said) to learn to quiet themselves and not just talk incessantly about anything and everything. (I have one who would talk without discrimination for WAYYYYYYYYYY too long about Legos & WWII if we hadn’t begun, years ago, teaching him to pay attention to the people he’s in conversation with, and how to “read” whether they’re actually interested in what he’s saying or not, LOL.)

      But, I’m a verbal processor too, and it’s good for you to be aware that she needs that time.

      I’ve seen in my introverts that they get overly emotional and sensitive if we’ve strung too many days together with activity and people. (Holiday season, I’m looking at YOU!) And so I have to be purposeful to see that they get that.

      Anyway, this isn’t a post about personality, haha! :) How did I end up on THAT rabbit trail?!

      But I absolutely agree with you… the more we lean in, the more we’ll be able to discern, “is this sin or preference?” And even sometimes, preferences need to be listened to. We are teaching our children to be considerate of others (including the introverts around them if they are extroverts, and vice-versa), but then we also have to be considerate of the way God has built them to process and interact with the world.

      Thanks for adding your thoughts, Jenny! Great comment.

      • qfbrenda says:

        Great post! I’m replying to you here because I’ve seen the opposite as well: an extroverted mom ignoring her very introverted child when they don’t respond when spoken to. It’s easy to apologize for your child and harder to teach them that ignoring people just because you are shy is rude and will offend people.

        I have 5 boys and have the mix of introverts and extroverts in the same house! It’s interesting trying to quiet some boys while required others to talk more. LOL

        • Jess Connell says:

          WONDERFUL point, Brenda! I absolutely agree.

          Understanding differences in personality is part of giving grace to one another, but should never be a reason to make excuses for rudeness. Like you point out, in the same way that an extrovert is rude to keep talking about a topic no one else around him/her is interested in, it’s rude for an introvert to not engage with the people around them. These are ABSOLUTELY the kinds of things that parents can speak into the lives of their children, in ways that no one else can.

          No, your introverted child doesn’t have to carry on a long conversation, but “we say ‘hello’ when people greet us” is a perfectly reasonable standard for even a 2-year-old to abide by (I know because we had to enforce this with our MOST introverted child, when he was 2, in Mandarin Chinese (“Ni-hao”) when we lived in China). It really can be done!

  2. Allison says:

    I think I need some help processing ideas for how to apply this with my sons, particularly, my son Caleb, who will be 6 next month. He is an extremely outgoing, active, almost hyperactive, little boy who talks non-stop and (perhaps because he’s the oldest; perhaps because that’s how he’s wired), is obsessed with the idea of being “the boss.” Overall, he’s actually a relatively compliant child, but lately I’ve noticed this attitude creeping in where he might outwardly do what I’ve asked, but not until he’s first told me why he doesn’t think what I’m asking him to do is a good idea and, telling me, “But my plan was…” I stop him and talk about how “God has placed mommy in authority over you right now, and you need to submit to the authorities that God has put in your life,” and yes, he does comply, but looking at him you can tell that in his heart he’s still fuming because he didn’t want to wear that shirt, or didn’t want to be required to taste that food, or didn’t want to do his handwriting right now, etc. and will be sure to make my life miserable even while *technically* doing what I’ve asked. I know that the state of his heart is even more important than his outward actions, but where I’m confused is, how do I respond to it? We talk about it, but the attitude remains. Do you advocate spanking for it? Or time-out? Or practically speaking, what have you found that works? I’d welcome thoughts from any readers too by the way, not just Jess, if you have any biblical and useful thoughts for me. :) I’m kind of befuddled!

    • Jess Connell says:

      So what you’re seeing is that he’s starting to try to “stand up on the outside but sit on the inside” and as believing moms, I think we need to call our children out to live in honesty.

      So many places in the Word talk about our outside matching our inside… living in the light… not churning… having a calm and quiet spirit (like waters that are not roiling and bubbling under the surface even while appearing calm on the top). So once you’ve said something like, “God has placed mommy in authority over you right now, and you need to submit to the authorities that God has put in your life,” when you se him still fuming or still inwardly grumbling, that’s an opportunity to not only guide his outside, but start to guide his inside.

      Something like: “Hey buddy, I can tell that your heart isn’t in this… and you are still angry at mommy. Do you remember that God cares about our hearts too, and not just our actions? I don’t want you to grow up to be a man who does his job but hates his boss, or who follows the speed limit but is fuming at the police officer. Even more than that, I don’t want you to be a man who outwardly does what God says is right but inside is mad and thinking that the rules are stupid.

      When God tells you to do something, it is for your good. When mom tells you to do something, it’s because I believe it is for your good. When you grumble, that’s your heart raising up and thinking you know better, and mom doesn’t know as much as you. Is something like that basically what you’re thinking?

      I’d like for you to do this with an attitude that is not grumbling or questioning. Philippians 2 tells us to do all things without grumbling or questioning so that we will shine like lights in a crooked generation. One of the things God wants from us is for our insides to match our outsides, and I want that for you. Can you take a minute, go wash your face, or whatever you need to do to help settle down your body and have a better attitude while you finish your handwriting?

      (side note: you know your son, mom, so consider what will quickly help him to settle down physically… some moms use things like 10 jumping jacks, some moms physically instruct their child in facial changes… “I want you to lift up your eyebrows, now uncross your arms, now I want you to look at my face and make your eyes stop looking *this* way, and start looking like *this*– mimicking the change in expression you’re wanting to see–, now lift up your shoulders and stop shuffling your feet…”)

      I have sometimes found that ^^^ helpful, and sometimes not, so that is a discretionary thing, just a possibility for you to think about if it would help your child. Sometimes, especially with younger children, it can really help them to put the inward and outward parts together. But I’ve also found it to “work” for older children who may genuinely not know how to change their posture and attitude.

      Also, then, I address the specific thoughts. “Instead of thinking, ‘this is dumb. I don’t want to write this word.” I want you to think, ‘Mom doesn’t ask me to do things that are beyond what I can do. I’m going to do the best job I can. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but I’ll do what I can because she asked me to.’ Because, darlin, that’s the truth. Mama really does think you can do this. So just do the best you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but I do want you to write it as neatly as you’re able to do.”

      Regardless, my goal is to help the inside and outside match and help them, as much as possible, to have a willing heart to listen to mom & dad.

      Though I’ve heard some people teach it, I don’t teach that they have to be “cheerful” or “happy” or “smiling” (although I might remind them of things, like, “let’s focus on what we are thankful for… aren’t you thankful we get to stay home together, that we have money to buy the pen and paper and can learn these things, and that daddy works so hard so we can do this?” (Or whatever applies to the thing we’re doing that is less than pleasant.) The reason I do this is because this is how I counsel my *OWN* heart. When I don’t want to do another load of laundry, my perspective can change if/when I focus on what I’m thankful for (“thank you for letting me get this skirt I love that fits me perfect at Goodwill;” “thank you that I get to stay home with my kids and do this and don’t have to do this load after a long day of work;” “thank you that she left this nice washer and dryer set in the house and the dryer dries faster than the old dryer we had.”, etc.)

      I may still not be *smiling* and the most joyful I’ve ever been, LOL, but it does help me to change my inward part to be more content, and helps me to not grumble or complain while I do something that is needful. So since that is how I counsel my own heart to stop grumbling, that is how I counsel my children’s hearts to stop grumbling and have their insides at rest.

      Basically, I want to not ever stop with just the outside action… yes, I want to teach our children to obey, but I also want to pay even more careful attention to what is happening in their hearts, and counsel them in ways that will continue bearing fruit even when they’re adults.

      Even when they’re adults, if they’re emotionally out of control, going and washing their face with cold water and trying to focus their thoughts on Scripture & on things that they ARE grateful for will be helpful ways to deal with their churning anxieties.

      Even when they’re adults being asked to do a job they don’t really in their heart want to do, by reminding themselves that God places authorities over us and that we can submit to them, knowing that we’re ultimately trusting God by doing the thing and doing well, that will STILL be a great way to handle those differences in what they want vs. what they should do.

      So I want to instruct my children in biblical ways of dealing with negative feelings/habits/anxieties, thoughts, self-centered thinking, etc. These little momentary glimpses into their responses in less-than-fun circumstances give us opportunities to not just look at the outside but at their inside, and it helps them to be thinking and acting as a whole person rather than teaching them to segment themselves into “false outward persona,” “actions,” “inward thoughts & churning,” etc. Instead, we’re teaching them how to rightly, biblically interact with authorities, counsel their own hearts with truth, and ultimately how to begin submitting their hearts to something bigger than themselves, which… I pray… will be a blessing to them and enable them to more delightedly and wholeheartedly embrace God’s *PERFECT* Fathering in a way that infinitely surpasses the imperfect but still loving parenting I offer up to them each day.

      Other thoughts/questions?

    • Becca Z says:

      I’m not sure if this is a complete answer but I would slow down when he’s saying why he wants to do something his way, and ask him if he can think of reasons you want him to do it your way. (Like cleaning his room now will give him extra free time after dinner, or the shirt he wants to wear is not nice enough for church, etc…). Our children certainly need to be reminded to obey, but stopping him from giving his reason why he wanted to do this or that with the explanation that you have authority may be coming across like “Because I said so” -and I’m not listening to your reasons. Ask him if he understands why he has to have two bites of spinach, (maybe talk about how you are giving him mercy by not having him eat 10 bites:)!

      • Jess Connell says:

        I would submit that at 6 years old, in the heat of the conflict, obedience is most often still looking like “because I said so.” At that age, here, they already know they *should* obey, and we’ve spent SKADS of time talking through the whys and bigger picture that mom sees more than you do, and is working for your good.

        SO for me, with a 6 year old, that is not the time to answer to the child.

        AFTER the conflict, here, would be the time that we would take time (if we truly thought it was a lack of understanding– though, most often, at age 6, it is not understanding; it is defiance) to talk through “the reason we asked you to do X is because of Y.”

        Another reason why I go THERE rather than to slow down & explain in the moment is because of the context she offered:

        “I’ve noticed this attitude creeping in where he might outwardly do what I’ve asked, but not until he’s first told me why he doesn’t think what I’m asking him to do is a good idea and, telling me, “But my plan was…””

        This makes it much more clear to me that this is not an understanding issue, but an authority issue. Also, she said that he is “obsessed with the idea of being “the boss.”

        So for me, the teaching and instruction would be happening a LOT, AFTER the heat of the moment of conflict, rather than in the middle of it. I’d be using every real-life example of authority. Daddy at work. Us under the Elders at church. Us stopping for the traffic light. Anything and everything that points to authority and how we all have it in our lives and have to yield to it, with reminders from God’s Word about authority– (Classic, simple one is Romans 13:1, but here’s a list of others–

        Hope this helps explain my thoughts a bit more clearly.

  3. Becca Z says:

    Great article! Very convicting because I’ve thought all those things! (“I’ll let it go this time”, “Distract them”, etc…). Thank you!

  4. Allison says:

    Thank you all for the responses! I actually find it quite helpful. I think in his heart, it’s definitely a submission issue, and that needs work. He is quite obsessed with the idea of being “in charge,” and it’s not something I totally want to discourage because yes, I do want my son to grow up to be a godly man one day who is able to lead his household (and perhaps his business) well, BUT in the process of learning to be a man, he needs to learn to submit himself to authority. I think I probably need to sit him down and provide some instruction on these issues. Until recently, I feel like he was still basically a preschooler who needed mostly discipline, as opposed to instruction, but now I probably need to provide him with some loving, godly counsel and not only discipline (though I know I can’t neglect that either!). He is my oldest, and I have 2 younger sons, ages 4 and 1, so I think sometimes I feel so busy and overwhelmed with caring for everyone while trying to get dinner on the table, the homeschooling done, and keeping the toddler from destroying the house, that I don’t take the time to really get to the heart of the issue with the older two, and then because I haven’t fully dealt with it, it only gets worse and I find it’s more maddening when I do finally do address it. Wow, it’s amazing how just typing that out helps me see it so much more clearly! I think I need to spend less time on housework in the next few days and more time on loving and instructing my children. Thank you for the discussion. :)

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