Thursday 26 February 2009

Teenage pregnancy

The most recent stats for teenage pregnancy in the UK show a rise. This despite (or possibly because of) the government's strategy to reduce teenage pregnancy,which they claimed was working. Actually, the stats that suggest it was working were almost certainly wrong, as they do not include 'morning after' abortion pills which end pregnancy in the early stages. But now, even with the huge numbers of those pills not being counted, the figure has still gone up.

This is because the government is not addressing the real issue. What we need is a 'teenage sex reduction strategy' rather than a teenage pregnancy reduction strategy. And what we are getting is precisely the opposite. the latest government contribution is a booklet telling parent NOT to tell their kids that under-age sex is wrong, but rather to go with them to get their contraceptives, if that's what they want... And guess what, not only will pregnancy rates continue to rise, despite not counting those early abortions, but so will sexually transmitted diseases, not to mention the emotional and psychological damage done to these kids, from which the government, the schools and all responsible adults should be protecting them.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Ivan Cameron RIP

Pray for the repose of Ivan Cameron, and for his grieving family.

In a rare moment, political hostilities were suspended in the House of Commons, as everyone expressed their condolences.

Did it occur to none of them that Ivan, who brought such love and joy, as many testified, to all who met him, is precisely the kind of child they strive to abort?

What doublethink.

Saturday 21 February 2009


Anna and I treated ourselves to a DVD over half term. We watched it in a couple of installments in the evenings, once the kids were in bed (or on their way there at least...). It was Black: an Indian film about a girl who is blind and deaf, and her extraordinary teacher. The first half is based on the childhood of Helen Keller; the second is largely fictitious.

It was a very powerful and moving film, slipping intriguingly between Hindi and English languages (yes, we had the sub titles on!) Well worth watching. You can see the details here.

Going Tudor

Dominique is studying the Tudors at present, and after half term they are having a Tudor banquet. So today, she has spent a lot of time with Grandma and Ant putting together a most convincing tudor costume. Much of the rest of the day has been spent with Anna, looking for tudor recipes on the internet and baking some (Tudor?) bread. She and Charlie did take an hour or two out in the afternoon to play tennis in the field (not Real [Tudor] Tennis, alas) while Ant, Anna and I took Goldie for a walk in the woods. Bernie was at the pictures with friends (Slumdog Millionaire) which she enjoyed. The bigger girls (inc grandma) are off to see Oklahoma! tonight, so I will have a quiet night in once I've put the little ones to bed.

Friday 20 February 2009

Stem cell research

"It is little realised but invariably true that every media stem cell story involving patients concerns adult cells; and every story about embryonic stem cells is about their potential, or animal experiments - not patients. Embryonic stem cells remain far too dangerous for clinical testing. Cross-infection and rejection are potential problems, but the biggest hazard is that embryonic stem cells form tumours. Biologically, they have much in common with cancer stem cells." From an excellent article by Dr Neil Scolding, Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at Bristol University, in Standpoint magazine, quoted on the Life site.

Scolding goes on to explain why embryonic stem cell research should soon be a thing of the past -a nd also why it should never have been practiced or allowed in the first place.

Still on half term...

Some friends came round yesterday - a couple of families (or at least a couple of mums and some of their kids - - dads were at work, poor souls). We had a chaotic lunch, then a walk. After that the kids spent a lot of time making puppets, and then (after copious home-made pizza) played rounders in the dark. As so often, the kids and mums said that they rarely had such good fun. Our kids certainly know how to play...

Today, Anna, Bernie, Charlie and Dominique went out to meet some other friends. Ant and I stayed home - and took Goldie for a long, fast walk over a local hill. Amazing how quickly we were able to go without the others. Then she worked all afternoon and I dug the garden.

Kids all doing various music practice now, before tea (fish of course: it's Friday).

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Against hypocrisy

I am glad to see that the Pope has made it clear to Nancy Pelosi that Catholic legislators have a particular responsibility to uphold and further the rights of all, from conception to natural death.

Ms Pelosi, like all those who use their faith as a political badge but pick and choose which bits of it they actually adhere to, strikes me as hypocritical.

If you don't believe it, stop pretending.

Half term continues....

Another good walk yesterday - up in the hills where there are still deep snow drifts in some sheltered parts. Snowy picnics are particularly memorable, and as it was a longish walk (5 hours or so) there was plenty of time for everyone to talk to everyone... I find that walking as a family does provide a great opportunity to spend time together in conversation, and even in silence. Bernie and I spent some time talking about her A Level options and how she might choose between them, in a very relaxed, no-pressure kind of way that was simply different from trying to have that kind of conversation at home when one or other of us would have something else that needed doing at any moment.

Today, I got the whole lot of them gardening: digging stones out of anew bed and importing topsoil from the lane behind the house where the rain has washed it over the winter. Again, there is something about working together that is very satisfying: as is getting a visible result from just a few hours' work.

Off to c aconcert tonight, and friends coming tomorrow. Life is just one social whirl...

Monday 16 February 2009

Half term

It is now the half term holidays, which is a great relief: we were all getting rather tired.

We have had a couple of good walks already, as well as spending a bit of time just messing about together. Charlie and Dominique spent most of Saturday playing a very complex game of their own invention that involved a lot of dressing up, as well as several board games and toys.... There is something about having the time and space together to do nothing that really stimulates good family time. And the absence of a TV certainly helps!

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Risk and risk aversion

In the last few days, I have followed tragic news stories of people falling from hills where we have walked and dying, and kids falling through ice and drowning: and yet I still let the kids go out on the iced ponds to skate and we still go for family walks in the hills.

Is this just perverse?

I don’t think so. I think the virtue to consider here is prudence. I think that prudence means both avoiding unnecessary risk, and also being prepared to engage with necessary risk.

I clearly don’t want my children to have serious or fatal accidents; but I think in our modern culture there is another danger, less obvious. which is that the children grow up as cowards, afraid of the wrong things.

I want my kids to fear evil, not potential hazards. And I hope that by teaching them that they can assess and mitigate risk in the natural realm, I will give them the courage to avoid evil when they can, and fight it when they must.

To put that another way, I think that trying to remove all physical risks from kids' experience of life is a very risky strategy for their development and well-being.

In the meantime you might spare a prayer for those who have died in the recent severe weather, and their families.

Saturday 7 February 2009

Let's stigmatise more!

One of those involved in the campaign to encourage pregnant women to give up smoking said: it is important we don't stigmatise women who smoke when pregnant, as they will then not approach anyone for help.

this sounds so eminently reasonable - but in fact it is not. It is because we no longer stigmatise divorce, abortion, promiscuity etc etc that they are rampant in our society.

To stigmatise means to make it clear that some things are not socially acceptable. It is a healthy and important part of the way in which civilised societies regulate the behaviour of individuals.

It does not, of course mean to persecute, but it does mean to disapprove. Once we cease disapproving of bad behaviour, as a society, it escalates rapidly.

Clearly stigamtisation may have some unfortunate consequences - such as a few people not asking for help they may need. However, the alternative seems to be to abandon any moral standards in society - and look where that has got us!

The Schizoid Society

As John Smeaton of SPUC points out, the NHS (UK's National Health Service) has excellent information on the development fo the unborn child and how important it is for pregnant women to give up smoking in order to protect the health of their growing children.

For example, their site includes the comments, at under 3-4 weeks: "Well done! Quitting smoking is the best decision you can make for you and your growing baby.'

This is the same NHS which arranges and conducts hundreds of thousands of abortions every year.

What we need is a recognition that: 'Oh No! An abortion is the worst decision you can make for your growing baby!'

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Selfish adults damaging kids

The BBC reports a new study demonstrating just how bad for children our contemporary culture is. Despite increasing affluence and levels of education, kids in the West today face ever more difficult childhoods.

The number one factor cited is selfish adults. It cites research suggesting that three times as many three year olds living with lone parents or a step-parent have behavioural problems compared with those living with married parents. Well who would have guessed it.

It also dares to name the problem of families where the mother works rather than looks after the kids. It talks approvingly about the increased 'autonomy' of women: by which presumably it means the degree to which they have become wage slaves, and prone to abandonment by their husbands or lovers, and notes that even this has a bad effect on children.

At least this stuff is beginning to get an airing, but nobody is expecting the government, which commissioned the study, to act on it...

The truth is, of course, that the traditional model of a stable maried couple raising kids, with one of them (normally the husband) the bread-winner and the other (normally the wife) staying at home to nurture the family, is by far the most effective in creating a good environment for kids. Of course one can find exceptions, and of course we must be charitable to those who are in difficult situations; but to normalise (in the name of de-stigmatising) illegitimacy, lone parenthood, divorce, co-habitation, and both parents going to work etc has (predictably) increased the levels of all of them, and has been profoundly damaging to our children.

A Busy Weekend

Where does the time go? On Saturday, the kids had various activities on: Bernie and a friend went busking in town, despite bitterly cold wind. Charlie had gone into town with a friend to see a movie. Ant was feeling a bit down: she'd just finished her last A level paper the day before and was probably exhausted, But she made a real effort for the day and made paper boats with Dominique. This was practicing for a Brownie event she is helping to run son. So after lunch we went down to a local stream (with Goldie our dog of course) to try them out.

In the evening we went to the local schools' combined show. Each school had ten minutes to put on some kind of production: mainly extracts form their Christmas shows (they hadn't had much warning of the event) but also some dance and music. the standard was much higher than I'd been expecting: though Charlie was annoyed that her school's performance wasn't faultless...

And on Sunday we went for a picnic in the hills. Minus three, plus a wind chill factor of at least minus 6. We were warned it was the equivalent of minus 18 on the tops so we didn't go too high: climbed up very icy rocks by a stream to a mountain lake and then walked on the contour for a mile or so before making our way down. And then Mass in a tiny chapel in the hills in the afternoon.