Parental Challenges in a Digital Age

Parenting has never been easy, but it was much less complicated in the 1980s and 90s (even more so for my parents’ generation). The difference is the invasive nature of the internet and technology.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a geek, but it’s such a challenge setting boundaries and controlling age-related content. Balancing online safety with childhood curiosity and excitement can be a real headache. I’m sure other parents will agree. It must be even worse for technophobe parents. What do you think?

The Baptism of Christ

Today in the Christian calendar we celebrate The Baptism of Christ, here depicted in the wonderful painting by Piero della Francesca in the National Gallery, London.

You can read the story in the Bible here: Luke 3:15-22

I’m reading Dave Grohl‘s book The Storyteller that Naomi bought me for Christmas. In it, he describes when his eight-year-old daughter Harper asked him to teach her to play the drums. His response was one of fatherly pride and humility, the latter because he was self-taught and didn’t have a clue where to start.

In the story of Jesus’ baptism, we are told that God was well pleased with his Son. By implication, God is pleased with us when we walk and live in the footsteps of Jesus. May we live like that in the coming days, not judging people but coming alongside them and loving them with the parental love of God.

Piero was the first artist to write a treatise on perspective – that is, creating an illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface. Here, he has painted objects in proportion, so that they appear as we see them in real life. This emphasises the depth of the landscape, but also the harmony of the figures and natural features within it. Christ stands in a shallow, winding stream as John the Baptist pours a small bowl of water over his head. Three angels in colourful robes witness the event. At this very moment, the voice of God was heard – ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:16) – and the Holy Ghost, shown here as a dove flying over Christ’s head and towards us, descended upon him. This painting was made for the small chapel dedicated to Saint John the Baptist in the Camaldolese abbey of Piero’s hometown, Borgo Sansepolcro. Source

Football (like life) can be cruel!

Football is a microcosm of all human life: the best and the worst, the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the triumphs and the sorrows, the successes and the failures, the ecstasy and the agony, the beauty and the ugliness. Love it or loathe it, you can’t escape it. You have to deal with it.

What better vehicle is there to teach our children human character, the value of working as a team, and emotional intelligence for their adult lives? And, in the light of the result, I would add the need to demonstrate graciousness in defeat.

A Year of Retirement

Today (1 July 2021) marks one since since my retirement, although we didn’t move to our new home until a week later because of all the difficulties related to the first coronavirus lockdown. It was something of a nightmare that’s best forgotten.

Where has the time gone?
How did I ever find time to work?

I’ve already written about how my retirement was never going to normal with three young children, but even so it hasn’t quite been the year I expected. Coronavirus has messed up everyone’s plans.

Overall, it’s been a good year, even if we’re settling into a new routine later and slower than we’d hoped. We’ve not been to an ‘in person’ Sunday worship meeting at a local Salvation Army yet, but having worked some Saturdays and all Sundays for many years, I have to admit I’m enjoying my weekends at home. Weekday mornings are all about getting Freddy and Matilda to school, so our weekends are precious family time. But I’m sure there are many Salvationists and church-goers who are reassessing their lives as the restrictions are relaxed.

Having said that, there are many positives. We’re very happy in our new home, even if there are still jobs to do, but isn’t that always the way? Pollyanna now regularly attends Parent and Toddler groups prior to starting nursery in September. Contact with family and friends is easier and more frequent now. Naomi is able to get out more and build links in the village. I’ve started running and language learning again. Both of us have taken up (or restarted) hobbies, and I’m hoping to be appointed as a parent governor at the children’s school as a way of serving our community.

I’ve also settled into posting something on my blog every day, with a weekly Sunday devotional.

So, here’s to another year to enrich our family life together, build links within our community, taking opportunities to reach out to others in Christian ministry.

To wear or not to wear?

Yes, I know children don’t have to wear face masks in the UK, but Freddy put his on recently and I’m really pleased with this photo!

Despite the UK government being very slow to mandate face mask wearing, it’s now become a feature of life. Of course, there are those who are exempt, but this seems to be widely abused. Also, many people have selfishly given up wearing face masks, forgetting that wearing one is a selfless act to protect others.

The lifting of coronavirus restrictions, although delayed, are now on the horizon, but it’s likely that I’ll continue to wear mine in certain situations – especially in the winter when coughs and colds spread easily.

Will you continue to wear your face mask after the restrictions have been lifted?

Mixed Fruit and Vegetables

Having moved away from the checkout at Lidl recently, I noticed two large boxes of assorted fruit and vegetables in the corner. They were out of the way and easily missed, but a bargain at only £1.50 a box.

I didn’t get one at the time, but I might buy one quite often as they’re such good value. Something to check out before shopping, rather than after. It’s good that food which otherwise might go to waste is being used in this way.

One blemish on an apple doesn’t mean you throw the whole apple away, as I keep telling my children.

Note: If you shop at Lidl regularly, don’t forget to get their app to save money and get great offers.

Parent Governor Vacancy

A parent governor vacancy has come up again at our children’s school. I missed the deadline last time, so I won’t make that mistake again. A great way to serve my community in retirement. Is being a school governor something you might consider? The following is information supplied with the application form:

Have you got:
• An interest in education?
• Dedication to promote high standards of attainment?
• The ability to work as a team to meet the school’s aims and objectives?
• An interest in using your skills to offer opinions and solutions to topics and challenges?

Then you could have what it takes to join the largest volunteer group in the country, working with others to get the best for our children by becoming a Parent Governor.

Governors are:
• Parents of children who go to the school
• People nominated by the Local Authority
• People appointed by the Local Diocese
• Teachers
• Support staff
• People connected with the local community
• Headteachers

What does the role involve?
Governor volunteers work alongside the school’s senior leadership team to set targets, formulate school policy and plan for future development. Governors do not manage the day to day running of a school, but they do set the framework which should ensure the school is running effectively.

The three core functions of a governing body are:
• Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
• Holding the Headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
• Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.

Expertise needed?
There are no specific skill requirements for the role. However, schools do benefit and are increasingly interested in volunteers from the Finance, Legal, Business, Marketing, HR and Construction sectors. On appointment, governors receive an induction pack from the Local Authority who provide comprehensive training and support.

Term of Office
A term of office is for a period of up to four years. If the child of a Parent Governor leaves the school the governor can complete their term of office, unless he/she chooses to resign.

Pollyanna back at Playgroup

It was a big day (Tuesday 11 May 2021) for Pollyanna as she went back to a playgroup with Naomi for the first time in over a year, and for the first since we moved last year.

It’s hard to believe she’d actually been to a nursery all on her own prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it seems an age ago – over a third of her lifetime!

It was such a shame I couldn’t go with them because of the restrictions, even though they’re currently being relaxed.

Just look at her happy face!

Don’t let perfectionism rule you!

Committing (at the start of 2021) to writing and publishing at least one blog post a day has reinforced an important life lesson. Don’t let perfectionism rule you!

Give everything your best shot, but know when to stop. Some things you can go back and change, at least I can go back and edit blog posts (for example). But some things you can’t, and you just have to accept that. It’s an important lesson to teach our children.

Perfectionists strain compulsively and unceasingly toward unattainable goals, and measure their self-worth by productivity and accomplishment. Pressuring oneself to achieve unrealistic goals inevitably sets the person up for disappointment. Perfectionists tend to be harsh critics of themselves when they fail to meet their expectations. Source

Perfectionism can (of course) be both positive and negative, but it often drives people to be concerned with achieving unattainable ideals or unrealistic goals, leading to a whole host of mental health problems.

We need to learn the lesson of Islamic rugs and knock the edge off our perfectionism. Flaws in Persian carpets are no accident:

In many handmade Persian rugs and carpets you will discover [a] deliberate mistake. Followers of Islam believe only Allah makes things perfectly, and therefore to weave a perfect rug or carpet would be an offence to Allah. The original deliberate mistake is usually made in the execution of the pattern of the rug and not in the dying of the wool or silk, and certainly not the quality of the weaving. Genuine deliberate mistakes in oriental rugs and carpets may be very difficult to spot and can be as subtle as a different colour used in a flower petal. Source

Finally, I hope you enjoy my eclectic and imperfect blog posts.

Sonic the Hedgehog Energy Drink

Our young children love Sonic the Hedgehog; the video game, movie, and cartoon series. Freddy decided he wanted to make a Sonic energy drink, so we had a go after getting some ideas via Google.


3 dessert spoons caster (or granulated) sugar

Blue food colouring gel or liquid

Coconut extract

1 can of ‘Sprite’ (or any lemon & lime pop)

Ice cubes (to serve)

Dissolve the sugar in some cold water, add a little blue food colouring, coconut extract, and stir. Add the can of Sprite and serve with ice. Enjoy!

Note: one of the categories for this post is [Health] – obviously as part of a balanced heathy diet. I’m not responsible for hyperactive children as a result of drinking this.