Sabbatical, Day 40: Ministry And Personality Type Survey Explosion, Child Worries

The response to my surveys into ministry and personality type that I announced yesterday has staggered me. At time of writing, I had 42 members of the Facebook group. 60 people had completed the congregational members’ survey. 29 had completed the ministers’ survey.

At the recommendation of David Burton, I have joined Twitter and am using that to publicise the surveys, too. Please ‘follow’ me if you are on Twitter. My username is davefaulkner.

Other news today mainly concerns the children, and especially Rebekah. Today, she had a ‘number bonds‘ test at school. Testing seems to have started quite early, in my opinion. She is still ten days shy of her sixth birthday. For a few weeks now they have also been having spelling tests, and Becky is getting quite agitated about it. Last night she was late getting to sleep, worrying about whether she would pass. She kept getting stuck on the numbers four and six. What number do you put with four to make ten? What number goes with six to make ten?

There have been two saving graces about this. One is that we have been concerned about her concentration when learning. This certainly made her concentrate – but I felt like we had a GCSE student in the house! The other is that … she passed. Now she’s worried about going up the front at assembly next week and being applauded when the Head Teacher gives her the certificate!

What worries we load onto children at a young age. I have been concerned for a long time about the pressure induced on children by the SATS tests required by the Government. I know these are going to be rationalised, but making children take official tests from the age of seven means they have been turned into nothing less than political footballs by cynical, morally evacuated Governments. Worse, parents who have seen the strain on their children have effectively connived with this by looking for the results in evaluating schools. 

And there are other worries, too. A little while ago, my friend Dave Warnock sent me an invitation on Facebook to join the Pink Stinks campaign.Last night, I finally looked at the campaign and joined up. It’s taking the colour pink as symbolic of the sexualisation of young girls, and that’s something I feel very strongly about as the father of a five-year-old. I’ve joked before about her love of Claire’s Accessories, but it must have been around the time she started school that she began to change from tomboy to girly girl. I have no problem with her having a nice appearance, and frankly for all my life she will always be the most beautiful girl in the world. But I don’t want her value to be based on how physically attractive boys think she is in later years, or how attractive or not she perceives herself to be. 

While Pink Stinks seems to come from a secular feminist origin, having the militant atheist Polly Toynbee as a major cheerleader, there is much in the campaign I am pleased to support. One excellent feature of the website is the naming and shaming of sexist products aimed at children. Another is the section of the site that seeks to promote positive female role models. I’d far rather Rebekah had Sally Ride as an aspirational figure than Amy Winehouse or Paris Hilton. I believe my daughter is made in the image of God, and that gives her a dignity like nothing else on earth. I want her to know she is loved unconditionally, and that she has unique gifts which she can use in the service of God’s kingdom. 

I hadn’t thought too much up to now about the propensity of infants’ school girls to love High School Musical or Hannah Montana. Although I recognised them as telling the stories of teenagers, there hadn’t been anything I’d noticed that seemed  overtly immoral. What had bothered me was that they told stories that were not age-appropriate and that that might be emotionally difficult. I could see that might be tricky to handle. Now I think I see them as rather worse than that, because they are promoting a certain image of what is acceptable young womanhood, and much of it is just based on looking good for the boys. 

I have to say Debbie isn’t as worried by this as I am. She thinks the trend towards little girls prettifying themselves is a fad that will disappear and be replaced by another trend. Me, I see sinister commercial forces behind it. What do you think?


  1. Sometimes I think a parent’s job is to help their child get perspective on what the world (in this case, school) tells them. Re tests, (and there are way too many but it seems to get better as they get older – and kids’ stress levels may well be an indication of their teacher’s stress – I still think one of the best things I told one of your nephews when he was in a state (becasue of the teacher’s attitude)about a maths test was “Tell her I said when you go for a job interview, no one is going to ask you how quick you were at sums when you were 6! You just have to know what attitude to encourage most in your each child.
    I’m not a mother of girls (although I was one once!) but I’d go with Debbie’s instinct on the whole pink, Claire’s, girliness issue. All girls go through it (don’t you remember my obsession with all things ballet, horses and sheer exhaltation when Mum and Dad finally decorated my room in pink roses wallpaper?). Having said that, I think there is a propensity in our current culture to make boys and girls grow up before their time. I find my self regularly saying “what other kids do is not my responsibility but what you do is” to my boys (DVD and Xbox games’ appropriateness being a recurrent theme) and “you will have years and years to be an adult – so make the most of the few years you have to enjoy being a kid”. I remember Auntie Rene too – how she used to always take an active interest in whatever we were into at the time (how many times did she mug up on the latest band on TOTP before I went round?). She didn’t always agree with my taste – and she ahd no hesitation in saying so – but it it meant so much that she took the time to find out about something and we always had some great discussions after. It’s why I watch certain TV shows with my 2 – I wouldn’t necessarily choose to and I don’t approve of some of what teh characters get up to – but the bosy value the time and interest I’ve taken in them and we get the chance to discuss people’s behaviour.
    Anyway, I’ll shut up now. Starting to sound too much like I actually know what I’m doing as a parent!


    1. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce my sister … 🙂

      I don’t think I’m advocating banning, I think it would be difficult to do that in a constructive way. I entirely see the virtue of discussing television shows and the like with children. My problem with that comes in how you discuss issues with children when the show is raising themes that are beyond their ken. (Excuse the Scottish, I’m sounding a bit like Dad!)

      Likewise, it may well be a phase, but I think we also have to watch out when powerful commercial influences are involved.


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