If Your Child Is Different, Read This Book [A Review]

“If your son continues with his behavior, we will need to ask you to find other schooling options,” the letter read from the principal.

My husband and I had spent two years praying and correcting, but no matter how many parenting books we read and tried to apply, the notes sent home from school continued: “Distracting his classmates.” “Not listening to instructions.” “Inappropriate behavior.”

I questioned my mothering, sought advice about how to somehow fix my kid—and our parenting. Something must be broken, I thought, if my kid can’t function in the classroom in an appropriate way.

My son is different.

So when I read an excerpt from Sally Clarkson and Nathan Clarkson’s new book, Different, I bought the Kindle version—no time to wait for the mail.

I wept through the introduction, in which Nathan shares a poem, and I imagine these words expressing my own son’s heart:

They tell me, “Stop.” “Just don’t.” “Be normal.”

So I try and I try and I try

Not to let the demons in my mind

Be the ones who define

My every move,

My every thought,

My every rhyme.

But sometimes I feel like I’m alone in a crowded room,

And no matter what I try, or what I do,

I can’t make my eyes see like they’re supposed to.

As a mom, I can’t make my eyes see the way they’re supposed to, either.

The richness of this 216-page book continues to pour out insight as adult son and mother, Nathan and Sally, take turns, as if engaging in a kitchen-table conversation, sharing from their unique perspectives. This double-layered approach to co-authoring offers both parents and children compassion and understanding, with generous servings of hope.

Readers learn about Nathan’s pain as he struggles to control his incessant need to wash his hands until they bleed. We read about Sally’s love for her son and the exhaustion of persevering to help Nathan know her love for him—and ultimately God’s plan for them both.

Readers will enjoy the outrageous antidotes, like the time Nathan painted a mural all over his room before asking permission. And Sally’s real thoughts when her son told her he wanted to act for a living.

By using easy-to-read, short chapters that offer biblical encouragement for moms and kids with differences, the authors provide a transparent look into the life of a family that lives with differences. They offer no easy answers, but they do provide lots of understanding and wisdom.     differentcover

After reading Different, I took a deep breath and started following Sally’s advice to accept our different children as they are, provide a place for them to be themselves, and appreciate God’s design for them. Doing so, she insists, is absolutely crucial—“but it needs to be balanced with doing our best to help our children grow and move forward.”

I especially appreciated the authors’ candid example of how to accept life as God gifted it, but to strive to become all God created for each of us. I desire my son, and all my children, to become all God designed when He created them. Different offered me hope that our journey will lead us there.

If you know a different person or think you might be one yourself, check out this easy-to-read book. You will laugh. You will cry. And you will find hope.