18 things I do not regret my parents doing with me

Inspired by when Anti Catrin showed us that Challies article when he wrote the 18 things he doesn’t regret doing with his kids.

1. Praying with us before bed.
That was part of the everyday routine for us, and that’s remained into my adult life. Praying with Sibyl before sleeping goes along with brushing my teeth and putting on my PJs.

2. Giving us pocket money.
Dad borrowed a method from the de Jongs in our church; we would receive our age squared (in pennies), every Saturday. Enough to buy sweeties (or da da as we’d call them in Welsh), but we had to save some for collection in church the next day.

3. Talking with us about theology as we walked
On the way to the sweet shop every Saturday, Dad would ‘teach us diligently when we walked by the way’. I remember the freedom to talk about any theological concept, ask any question. “How do we know if God even exists?” “Who is the Holy Spirit?” “Can God sin?”

4. Playing us Christian songs.
I still remember every single Steve Green Hide ’em in Your Heart song, along with great family hymns like Holy, Holy, Holy. I was even helped when Dad tried to get us all to sing Keep on the Sunnyside from the Oh Brother Where Art Thou OST.

5. Leading us in family devotions
Not a day went by without us having a mealtime (sometimes breakfast, sometimes dinner) when the Bible was read to us. I’m indebted to those times for a huge chunk of my Biblical knowledge now.

6. Prioritising a family meal everyday
Leading on from that, we always ate together. I remember a school-friend moaning that his Mum forced them to have a meal together once a week. I remember thinking “Once!? Who else would you have a meal with the rest of the time?”

7. Feeding us amazingly tasty food
Yes, I’m dwelling on these mealtimes, but that’s because they were so good! Roast potatoes, homemade chips, roast chicken, sausages, turkey bake, quiche, tuna pie. And then there’s the puddings… chocolate brownies, chocolate pudding, chocolate bread and butter pudding, millionaire shortbread (with chocolate), little pastry pie things with brown sugary raisin stuff in them, fridge cake, flapjacks, cookies, and shop-bought battenberg was always a hit too.

8. Disciplining us
We knew when we’d been naughty and often had to learn the hard way. But those smacks could well have saved my life, they helped me honour my parents, and I know that that means I can now enjoy long life on the earth. However the downside is I do have a phobia of all wooden spoons…

9. Taking photos and videos of us
There’s a great VHS of me when I was a baby which is amazing to watch, and there’s lots of photos which I love looking at, people who’ve died that I now have images of to look at, memories of birthdays and Christmases, great stuff.

10. Taking us to church
That was just normality on Sundays. Morning and Evening. What’s come home to me recently is that I heard the gospel so many times before I listened to it, God gave me (literally) thousands of chances, and so much time, this helps me to have patience with others who have not grown up with that privilege, and who are not converted as soon as I tell them the gospel.

11. Sending us to schools
Firstly, the Welsh primary school solidified my contact with Cymraeg and Cymru, a language and place where much of my heart is with, so I’m thankful for that. As for the secondary school, I’m grateful for the socialisation and contact with the secular world that that gave me practice in.

12.Teaching us how to decipher what they were teaching us in school and the Bible
Dad would often ask us after school, “Did they mention God even once today?” The answer was usually no. I went to one of the most humanist schools around, but I’m glad I went home and was given the tools to engage with all of that.

13. Telling us to watch things critically
Along the same lines, these were the tools that we were to use when watching TV and films. Dad’s catchphrase was indeed “are you watching this critically?” And from speaking to my fifteen-year-old brother this week, he still says that.

14. Giving us time to play outside in our garden
Hours and hours and hours spent in our garden, mostly playing football, but also making a treehouse with our friends the Barnses, and also digging holes, even making fires sometimes! And the tree-swing was amazing too. And the climbing frame. And the paddling pool in the summer.

15. Encouraging us to do household chores
Lay the table, clear the table, empty the dishwasher, tidy your room… all things we were encouraged to do, but I must confess were very poor at even those few tasks. Poor Mam. I’m still working on that one. But I’m glad I was shown the importance of them.

16. Telling us how important books are
I was a terrible reader as a child, Dad at one point even offered to give me £2 for every book I could finish, it still didn’t work. He is a voracious reader, and that example has served me well as I’m slowly growing in my love for books. So even for the times I was forced to read boring Enid Blyton books about inane supernatural teddy bears, thank you.

17. Encouraging a love of music in us
There was more often than not music playing in our house. From Mam it would be The Carpenters and Lionel Ritchie, from Dad it would be Focus and The Beatles, and on Sunday we’d have Classical music. Did you know, I still love music?

18. Deciding to have loads of kids
I love having four brothers. It’s so fun. It’s also mad. But I can’t think of a better community to grow up in, one in which you are in a house with four other kids who all share the same parents and space as you, and are all so different from you, but also share so much in common with you too. That’s been great.


Was there a more arrogant decade the 1990s?

The 1990s was a decade relatively recent in the mind of most adults, but to people of my generation it is childhood zone (although I did live a month in the 80s).

What is the 1990s zeitgeist that comes immediately to my mind?

When I try to think of 90s popular culture, I immediately see red, i.e., Manchester United.
I also see Oasis. What do they have in common? Well, it’s in the attitudes they promoted — epitomised in Eric Cantona and Liam Gallagher — an aggressive self-promotion, pride and ultimately… arrogance. 

Perhaps arrogance was what the world saw more of in the 1990s than in any other decade?

What was the defining characteristic of the nineties?

I posted recently about the defining characteristics of each decade, from the 1930s to the 1980s. But what about the 1990s?

I read David Stubbs’ article Seinfeld Vs Rumsfeld and he claims that the 1990s were ‘(for many) a desultory, affluent, privileged era’ (2004) he concludes that it is a ‘sense of privileged desultoriness that might be the defining characteristic of the Nineties’ (ibid.).

This label: desultoriness, is similar to Swindoll’s ‘aimlessness’ (1992, pp.11) of the 1980s, however perhaps the aimlessness of the 1980s was not replaced by another mood, but merely concreted. The aimlessness of the 1980s became proud aimlessness in the 1990s. To build on Stubbs’ term, maybe the 1990s zeitgeist was a resolute desultoriness. 

Stubbs cites the Massive Attack fronted Bristol-based genre, trip-hop as an example of this puffed-up, determined, aimlessness: ‘what a washed up, boneless, useless a confection it now sounds, the muted trump of a white elephant’ (cop cit.).

And what about the most popular sitcom of the decade, Seinfeld? Well it gave itself its very own label, ‘The show is about nothing’ (The Pitch 1992). Brash purposelessness has never been so popular.

Seinfeld, 1992. [TV programme] Castle Rock Entertainment, NBC, 16 September 1992.

Stubbs, D., 2004. Seinfeld Vs Rumsfeld. [online] Available at: <http://www.mr-agreeable.net/2004/12/05/seinfeld-vs-rumsfeld-out-of-the-nineties/&gt; [Accessed 25 October 2013].

Swindoll, Charles, R., 1992. Strengthening Your Grip: Essentials in an Aimless WorldHodder and Stoughton.

What were the defining characteristics of each decade?

Someone once bought me a book for 20p called Strengthening Your Grip: Essentials in an Aimless World (1992), she said I had to have it, it’s by Charles R. Swindoll.

A few years down the line and I’ve actually started reading it. He says that ‘each decade possesses a particular characteristic’ (pp.11).

Here are the characteristics that he says—shrewdly, I think—were present from the thirties to the eighties…

  • Thirties – Idealism
  • Forties – Patriotism
  • Fifties – Materialism
  • Sixties – Rebellion
  • Seventies – Disillusionment
  • Eighties – Aimlessness

So is he right?

Swindoll, Charles, R., 1992. Strengthening Your Grip: Essentials in an Aimless WorldHodder and Stoughton.