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.

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