How To Avoid That Morph Into Dragon Mommy

By Mary Ostyn

If you’re a mom, you’re familiar with the dilemma. You ask your child to clear a path so no one dies in the night put away his toys. And then you wait. The kid doesn’t budge. You repeat yourself, louder this time just in case he didn’t hear your first request. This time you get a reply, but still no movement.

As smoke starts to wisp from your ears and you begin to morph into dragon mommy, you’re faced with a dilemma. Do you give the child a few more minutes to play so as to avoid a confrontation? Do you speak again in hopes of cajoling obedience from your child? Or do you immediately step in and give him a consequence for not obeying?

Obedience: it makes a mom’s life so much easier, doesn’t it? When my child immediately does what I ask, there is a lightness in my heart. However, when obedience is not what it should be, it also causes a physical reaction within me. My voice rises, my face flushes, and I begin to wonder if there’s smoke billowing out of my ears. Not exactly my mental picture of a kind and patient momma, or a mom that a kid wants to be around.

I know that it benefits everyone when my kids obey the first time. And yet in my two decades of parenting, my follow-through has floundered from time to time. It stems partly from my mental image of a ‘good’ mom. Loving. Patient. Realistic. Grace-filled. Not a heavy-handed disciplinarian.

But allowing repetitive disobedience in my kids is not teaching them about grace. It is simply sanctioning the very behavior that I want to exterminate, which guarantees I‘ll see more of it. Kids get good at gauging mom’s tone, and waiting for smoke to billow before they budge.

But when I decide anew to expect first-time obedience, a wonderful thing happens. My kids start placing more value on my words. Granted, at first that new obedience is strictly because they want to avoid consequences like floor-scrubbing or time in the corner. But gradually the right response becomes automatic.

Which means that my words can be fewer. And kinder. And more effective.


Less like dragon mommy and more like the mom I really want to be.

Mary also blogs at Owlhaven.

16 Responses to How To Avoid That Morph Into Dragon Mommy
  1. feefifoto
    August 3, 2008 | 12:14 am

    Guess parenting is like playing golf: it all depends on good follow through.

  2. Carrie of Ceaseless Praises
    August 3, 2008 | 7:35 am

    Thanks for this post! I am just starting down the road of discipline with my 8-month-old- he’s just getting to the point where everything he CAN do is more than what he SHOULD do…and I really appreciate the advice that I found in the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart from Ted Tripp- he basically says the same things you said in your post today about consistency & about punishing the child if they don’t obey the first time. I think when my little Z is a toddler & we have to start punishing him for every disobedience, my parents are going to have a hard time with it! But I guess we’ll deal with that when the time comes. 🙂 Anyway, I appreciated your post! Thanks!

  3. Antique Mommy
    August 3, 2008 | 8:00 am

    The Love & Logic technique taught me to tell Sean – one time – to pick up the toys he wants to keep and I’ll “take care” of the rest. Makes it his choice and consequence, not mine. No screaming, no fussing, just follow through. Works like a charm. We don’t have a play room, so the rule at my house is all toys must be put away at the end of every day. I just can’t wake up to den that looks like a ToysRUs exploded.

  4. AmyG
    August 3, 2008 | 8:44 am

    I had a conversation about this with my Mom, yesterday. It would make everyone’s life so much easier if my girls would just listen to me the first time is say something! Glad to know it’s not just me, with this issue!

  5. Katy
    August 3, 2008 | 9:48 am

    This is wonderful–thank you. It’s nice to know that I am not the only mommy who has a physical reaction to disobedience… and it’s also good to have a reminder of why I should expect and teach first-time obedience!

  6. Megan
    August 3, 2008 | 2:43 pm

    I need to print out this post and staple it facing inward on my forehead right now. Seriously! Right now I’m headed down a road with Bean that will lead to misery for both of us after her brother is born, and I’d better make use of your sage advice before it’s too late! ARGH!

  7. Moriah
    August 3, 2008 | 3:19 pm

    Loved this post! We expect first-time obedience but get lazy, too. And then have to remind ourselves that the reason we’re getting frustrated is because we’ve dropped the ball (again)!

    And it really is simple. Our kids will do whatever we allow them to do – so if we don’t expect them to obey the first time, they just won’t. They’ll wait until they see the smoke. I’d just rather not go there.

  8. Kim
    August 3, 2008 | 9:55 pm

    This is just what my husband and I were talking about tonight. I don’t want to be the dragon mommy. I expect a rough week or two, but it will get better in the end once The Bean knows that she needs to mind the first time.

  9. Lizz
    August 3, 2008 | 11:19 pm

    Such a great reminder.

  10. Melanie Muenchinger
    August 4, 2008 | 9:13 am

    is there a spy cam installed at my house??? thanks for reassuring me there are toher potential dragon mommies out there!! very nice post!

  11. Beck
    August 4, 2008 | 4:30 pm

    I am NOT great at expecting immidaite obediance. I tend to draw things out, hoping that they’ll suddenly start obeying and I won’t need to discipline them.
    Yep, I’ve got a houseful of brats. 🙁

  12. Scrapping Servant
    August 12, 2008 | 8:11 pm

    Thanks funny I thought I was the only dragon left, lol!

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