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As a parent, I don’t want more new powers

I don’t generally write about education, but this is something I feel quite strongly about.

ClassroomThis week, Labour leader Ed Miliband launched a series of plans for public service reform, the most eye-catching of which promised parents the ability to call in “a specialist team” to sort out their school if they believe it’s not doing well enough. This is closely related to the issue that’s been occupying so much of my time for the last few months, but although I’ve been working hard to get parents’ views taken into account in that context, this latest initiative is not the answer. Read More…

What my son has learnt about the Tooth Fairy

ToothElder son lost tooth number three today, which was a hot topic of conversation chez nous. Yes, those long winter evenings really do fly by.

As usual, he spent most of the conversation putting younger son in his place by showing off his superior knowledge of the Tooth Fairy. And that was what interested me, because it was the first time I’d heard him stating anything as fact, rather than asking (possibly completely misguided) questions. Because he’s so bright, strange ideas notwithstanding, and because no one’s been carefully telling him the “right” answers, it’s a fascinating case study in belief and superstition. Read More…

A letter to my son about death

Sad BoyTo my dear son,

I’m sorry that you’re feeling scared about dying. I’m glad that I was able to make you feel a bit happier, but I’m afraid I haven’t been completely honest with you.

It’s not as if you have anything to worry about – you’re a perfectly healthy four-year-old, so your expected remaining lifetime is an absolute eternity from that point of view. But you’ve realised that everyone dies, which means you’ll die eventually, and you’re having a hard time coming to terms with it. I sympathise – I remember how scary I used to find the prospect of death at that age. But your fears put me in a difficult position.
Read More…

Biblical Parenting

Garden of EdenI’m not a great parent. Too often, I’m grumpy, impatient or distracted by something I find more interesting than my offspring – even, believe it or not, this blog.

But I’ve decided to do something about that. I’m going to take my lead from a book that’s often held up as the ultimate – or indeed only – arbiter of morality, right and wrong, good and evil. There are plenty of parents in the Bible who should be fine role models, but more importantly, God Himself is described as a Father to all of us. With His superior power, maturity and understanding, this is surely the ultimate example of what a parent should be like.

So I’m going to start from the beginning, with the first chapters of Genesis. Tomorrow, I’m going to leave a big, incredibly sharp razor blade on the floor while the boys are playing Read More…

How I found myself enforcing church attendance

Uh-oh, this looks like trouble!

I suppose it had to happen eventually. I thought I would have a bit longer to prepare for it, but it’s rolled around pretty quickly – last Sunday, elder son decided that he wanted to stay at home with Daddy.

This is where everything goes Bizarro World, through the looking glass and into the Twilight Zone, to mix a few metaphors. My wife doesn’t want to end up dragging him off to church when he doesn’t want to go, and she was prepared to let him stay with me. One week off, if he was feeling like it, wouldn’t be the end of the world, and was less of a risk than turning Sunday mornings into a battleground. Read More…

Were They Real? The impossibility of a neutral presentation of information

Elder son’s at it again, trying to determine whether certain people and characters are real or not. This time, he’s been set off by a book he brought home from school, called Were They Real?, which gives potted descriptions of various figures, and then asks the reader to say whether they’re fact or fiction.

He loved the process of discovery, and we talked a lot about the people and where the stories come from. He was particularly intrigued by the page on King Arthur, which slightly hedged its bets by saying that although the stories about him aren’t true, they were probably based on a real warrior king from around that time. Read More…

Daddy, why aren’t you coming?

It’s a few months now since I walked away from the church, and it’s generally been quite an easy time. I’ve found that I’m more relaxed at weekends, because I’m not dreading Sunday mornings, and we’ve settled into a routine that works pretty well. But my boys aren’t prepared to make it all that easy.

Initially, they didn’t seem to be bothered that I was staying at home when they went to church, and for quite a while, they were surprisingly unquestioning of it. That suited me, as I wasn’t really sure how I wanted to explain it to them. That changed recently. First it was “Daddy, are you coming to church this week?” Then it was “You never come with us any more!” Finally, it was “Please come with us, please!” I couldn’t put it off any longer. Read More…

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