Book Review: Their Name is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World

Recently, I was given the opportunity to review the book, Their Name is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World, by Johann Arnold. Being a mother of a preteen and teenager, I was curious to learn what Arnold had to say.

The book is well written and researched. It’s filled with stories and a good portion of the book is quotes. Normally that would bug me but not in this case. It’s as if he’s taken golden nuggets from many researchers and specialists and placed them in one location. Which is great for a busy parent.

blog photo - their name is todayArnold’s main thought is the way we over-book our children’s schedule with activities, sports, etc. and push young kids to read and do math at an early age could be doing more harm than good. Today’s children are losing the freedom of childhood to learn through play and down time.

There are many principles that can be applied to older kids too.

I find this book freeing. So many times I stress myself out, worrying that if my kids aren’t in the same activities as other kids then they’ll be “left behind.” Or I convince myself their lack of performance now means they’ll miss out on opportunities later. However, this book released me of such fears. We all develop in our own schedule, and as in the case with Einstein, being a late developer may at times be better.

It wasn’t a fast-read for me but it wasn’t due to lack of interest. A great deal of the content was thought provoking, with some theories being new to me, so I didn’t want to rush it.

An example would be in the chapter titled In Praise of Difficult Children. My son was recently diagnosed as ADHD and we’ve been researching ways to better help him learn and have healthy social relationships. In this chapter Arnold shares:

“If we are misled into thinking that children’s destructive behavior always represents some type of disease, and give them medication which is potentially dangerous, then we are taking the easy way out. Instead, we could look at our homes an schools and recognize how often our own busyness and materialism prevent children from finding their inner peace and emotional stability.”

Okay – this statement sound harsh and judgmental taken out of context, but it was something I needed. I’ve been working to reduce the busyness of our lives but I had overlooked the fact that our materialism could also be a stimulator of my son’s ADHD.  All the “stuff” we have to help entertain our kids could actually make it harder for my son to sit still in quietness and process his day.

It’s a good read and I’d recommend it to parents of young kids through teenagers who are trying to figure out how to parent their kids in our modern-day world. There are a lot of new factors that we are facing that previous generations hadn’t seen.


I’m So Glad God Has Selective Memory

Forgiveness is tricky. It’s not always easy to give forgiveness and sometimes it’s even harder to receive it.

Years ago, when my kids were in kindergarten and preschool, they had a spat. My quick-tempered daughter got mad at her passive-aggressive brother and called him the “s” word – stupid. (Oh if only that were still the “s” word.)

Noah was all too eager to fill me in on what his sister had done. I had a talk with her and then made her drink a glass of toilet water since she had potty mouth. KIDDING! (Just making sure you were still with me.)

She endured a tortuous time-out. We talked some more. She apologized to both Noah and me. We told her we forgave her and then she was released on good behavior.

Minutes later Noah called me aside, “I don’t think your punishment worked for Anastasia.”

Oh no! Did she use the “d” word now?! (dummy)

“Why do you say that buddy? You saw her in time-out.”

blog photo - forgive“But she’s all happy now. I don’t think she feels guilty.”

I watched her playing and she wasn’t. She was giddy, running around as if nothing had happened.

At first I was a bit irked and was sincerely considering force-feeding her that glass of potty water. But as I thought about it, why should she be feeling guilty?

She was forgiven!

She had every right to be able to go on with her day and be happy. She had faced her consequences. She asked for forgiveness. There was no need for her to carry a burden of guilt.

How many times in life have I carried with me the burden of guilt because of my inability to fully accept God’s forgiveness? If I sincerely repented, I should feel free. Of course there will be consequences to endure, and some may be harsh, but God doesn’t put an X on my back to carry until He feels I’ve done my time. He doesn’t use guilt as a punishment.

Guilt is of the enemy. All it does is paralyze us from experiencing the freedom found in God’s forgiveness.

If we confess our sins, God will forgive us completely (1 John 1:9) and then He will remember them no more (Hebrews 10:17). If God has forgotten our sins, then why should we carry the burden of them around our necks?

Of course we should learn from our mistakes and try our best to not repeat our sins, but it is freeing to know we have a God who has selective memory when it comes to our screw-ups. (Pardon this term but it best describes it. Oh yeah, thank you Jesus!)


The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

“The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.”—Charlie Munger

I love this quote. Doesn’t it sum up the role of a parent? I just wish my kids would see the value in this and make it an easier job. 

Last night we had a family meeting. We are an active family with many activities throughout the week. Both kids are good students, however, on Monday I received notice that both of them had scored low on the class assignments.

Mark and I called a meeting to discuss ways we can make sure school doesn’t suffer. We weren’t punishing. We weren’t raising voices. We were only reminding them that school is their primary job and all other activities were secondary.

blog photo parent child meetingThere was no punishment, only encouragement but we did mention the consequences of neglecting school work, i.e. removal of certain “hand-held devices” or a break from their sport until grades improved.

Some people call it passion, I call it drama – but one of our kids was not too thrilled and took it personally and totally shut off to what we were saying. I could tell they were not hearing correctly the message. It was so frustrating – especially since we were being such cool parents about it!! What’s up with that?! 

It made me wonder. How many times do I react the same to God? He’s gently guiding me, giving me knowledge and wisdom but I overreact to my circumstances and then miss the life lesson. I know I can be a Drama Mama about such things. Looks like my kids have picked this up from me. Ugh…

Maybe last night was God trying to pass on knowledge and wisdom to me also.