It’s not that I’ve been entirely oblivious to the so-called Mommy Wars in recent years, but as someone with no kids of my own, I never realized just how many smaller skirmishes exist within the larger battle.
I was blown away recently when a friend was filling me in on some of the various (and often heated) parenting philosophies out there—attachment parenting, continuum parenting, distraction parenting. I may be naive, but I guess I figured that when my mom threw me on her hip while she was making dinner, she did it without knowing there was a label for it. And when she pulled me away from the light socket and handed me a toy instead, she did it out of practicality, not because it was all the rage in the latest parenting book.
My friend told me she and her husband had decided to subscribe to distraction parenting—the concept of replacing a child’s negative or dangerous behavior with something positive. I’d never thought about it in such explicit terms, but I suppose it makes sense—not only for toddlers, but for grown-ups, too. I know from experience that if I’m trying to weed out a bad habit, I can’t simply stop doing it. I need to replace it with something better, or else I’ll go right back to filling that hole with the same old pattern (or a worse one).
When I started reading the book of Ephesians, I was surprised to note that maybe God is into distraction parenting himself (although I somehow doubt he’d get into a Mommy War over it). He doesn’t just tell us to stop doing something bad; he encourages us to replace that sin with something positive instead.
- If we are ingrained in the habit of lying, we’re not just to stop; we’re to start speaking the truth to each other (Ephesians 4:25).
- If we have a problem with stealing, we’re to replace that with the habit of generous giving (Ephesians 4:28).
- If we have a tendency to let abusive words slip off our tongues, we need to replace them with good words, helpful words, encouraging words (Ephesians 4:29).
- If we are enslaved by our anger, we need to change course, treating people with tenderness and forgiveness instead (Ephesians 4:31-32).
As I look ahead to a new year, maybe I need to give some thought not only to what needs to get weeded out of my life, but also what needs to fill that spot instead.
In other words: What good distractions do I need in my life right now?
I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan