Bring up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Book Review: 

My Life as a Book is written by Janet Tashjian and illustrated by Jake Tashjian. This is the first book in an 11 book series (as of this writing). I was excited to pick this book up to read with my son. It has excellent reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads. It is on the “Teachers Pick” list, and many have compared it to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which is a series my son loves.

Neither of us liked this book. We did not get past the second chapter. I usually don’t like to give up on books, as I hope they have redeeming qualities as the book continues, but I could not go on in this one. The main character is disobedient to everyone. In the classroom, he talks back to his teacher, is disruptive to the entire class, and doesn’t do what is expected of him. At home, his behavior is similar. He has this attitude that he doesn’t have to listen to his parents and destroys property when annoyed. 

It is not so much the misbehaving child that bothered me, but the teacher and his parents acting as if they could do nothing. They were exasperated and frustrated and ended up trying to beg him. The mother would chase him around with chocolate chips and ‘reward’ him for every page he read, or she would politely beg him to stop destroying property.

Neither recognized their authority as teacher or parent in raising the child. 

The plot: a boy hates reading and is required to read 3 books during the summer. He doesn’t like reading and therefore seems to think he can be rude to his teacher and disobedient to his parents.  

I don’t understand how someone could write an entire book based on this plot. This is how it should have gone:

Chapter 1:  A child returns from school with homework to read 3 books over the summer. The child refuses to do the reading because it is unfair to require reading over the summer. Also, the child extremely hates to read.

The parent responds to the child’s arguments and reasoning, “You will read three books this summer because that is what is expected of you and what you are required to do. How you feel about the assignment or the task is irrelevant. Therefore, this topic is no longer open for discussion. You must do what is required of you, if not, you will do NOTHING else this summer but sit in your bed with those three books surrounding you until they are read”.

End of book.

Teacher and Parent God-Given Responsibility: 

The Fourth Commandment: Honor Your Mother and Father 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states explicitly (2199): This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, . . .  

Parents and teachers have duties to the children they are responsible for. The primary responsibility is education (2221 – 2231), which extends further than the education of reading, writing, and arithmetic. We must educate our children in virtues.

2223: The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the precondition of all true freedom. 

To be truly free in this life, we require virtue. Unfortunately, it takes discipline to acquire virtue. It can be hard to discipline our children. Still, as parents and teachers, we must live up to our own duties and responsibilities. This is biblical:

Eph 6:1-4 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

As with every rule, there are exceptions:

2217 As long as a child lives at home with his parents, the child should obey his parents in all that they ask of him when it is for his good or that of the family. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Col 3:20, Eph 6:1). Children should also obey the reasonable directions of their teachers and all to whom their parents have entrusted them. But if a child is convinced in conscience that it would be morally wrong to obey a particular order, he must not do so. 

I am not sure parents and teachers understand that we have God-given authority over the children entrusted to us. It is our duty and responsibility to exercise this authority in order to raise virtuous children. This is a gift to them so they can be truly free in life. The adults in this book did not seem to understand the importance of their role to the child. They outcome was a child that was completely controlled by his emotions and desires.

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