Friday, May 31, 2019

Permissive parenting -- some recollections

I grew up in the age of Dr Spock, a widely respected American pediatrician who preached permissive parenting.  He saw permissivenessas being as much a moral issue as a practical one.  His influence was particularly strong in the '60s, which was a time to question all values, so the Biblical advice -- "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) -- was regarded widely as impossibly obsolete.

And for Spock and other reasons I was a beneficiary of permissive  thinking. I have no recollection of my parents ever saying No to me in fact. Dr Spock later changed his mind and decided that some parental guidelines were needed but it was all too late for  generations of kids. But permissiveness suited me.  I had a very untroubled childhood.

I was sent to Presbyterian Sunday school from about age 7 -- which I greatly enjoyed --  so I accepted the rather Puritanical wisdom that was preached to me there. And those were pretty safe guidelines. I am pretty sure I am a born Puritan, in fact. I was teetotal until I was about 28. But I like my gin these days. I was 17 in 1960 but the unhealthy substances that people poured into themselves in that era had no appeal for me. I have never even smoked tobacco, in fact.

Let me give two examples of the permissiveness of my parents:

My youngest sister at age 3 was the most gorgeous little blonde-haired tot you can imagine.  And she was plenty verbal by that stage. If my parents told her to do something she did not want to do, she would reply in a loud voice:  "I don't wanna".  No-one ever seemed to have an answer to that!  So she went her own way.  She is now a happily married lady with 3 adult daughters.  I think she was born with Puritan instincts too. On some occasions in her youth, she had 3 jobs at once.

Then there is my brother.  He had a very simple trick.  If ever he wanted to do something from which he might be deflected, he would say "I gotto do this" -- where "this" was very variable.  My parents would then let him do whatever he had "got" to do.

My son had an easy time too. I am an instinctive libertarian so he got no aggravation from me, to put it in a rather Cockney way. I would even defend his wishes to his mother!  His mother was basically a "No nonsense" lady with her first three kids.  Her eldest son thought -- and still thinks -- that his mother was a bit of a tyrant.  He had a way of expressing that view on one occasion that I had better not record, in fact.  She was of course a perfectly loving mother and has four high-functioning adult children these days.  And they all love their mother!

But his mother could see so much of me in my son that she was pretty permissive with him when he wanted to wander off in a direction she would normally question.  He was for instance allowed to spend a lot of time playing computer games.  But a boy who has a father who was a computer programmer would do that, wouldn't he?  He is now a well-paid IT professional with good friends of long standing so he didn't come to any harm either.  What he wanted to do was right for him. That he has spent just about all his life in front of a computer screen could be a health problem but he knows that and does dieting and exercise regularly.  He is in really good shape, in fact.

So I think a lot depends on the kid.  Permissiveness won't always work but it should always be the first approach.

Monday, May 27, 2019

A template drama

Most bloggers use a ready-written piece of software called a template to do various things for them -- such as specify different colours in different places on the blog and inserting paragraph breaks when converting a piece of text into html.

I was doing a bit of updating (inserting "lost" links and graphics) on this blog last night when disaster struck.  I accidentally hit some really dastardly key combination which made about half of this blog invisible.  I don't know what the key combination was and I am not game to attempt recreating it

At any event, the problem probably lay somewhere in the template so I reloaded it.  That did not fix anything.  So I thought:  There's many thousands of templates on the net.  I will just grab and load a new one.  So I had a look at the current offering from and did find one I liked.  I loaded it and everything looked fine.  The "lost" posts all came back.

Then I noticed something:  There were no dates given for any post.  I had a blog full of  maybe a thousand undated posts.  That was of course hopeless.  So I tried another half a dozen different templates.  I was time consuming but I found in the end that they all had that fault. None of them would display any dates.  So I gave up that approach.

It did make me wonder if the dates were still anywhere there in the basic html code for the blog.  I looked at that and  the dates were still there.  So it seemed that the templates just could not read the dates for some reason.  One explanation occurred to me.  The alternative templates I had been loading were all recently constructed.  My damaged template, by contrast was quite old -- from 2004.

So it seemed likely that my old template had been storing dates in a format not now allowed.  So I would need to find another old template for the dates to appear.  But where would I find one of those?  Nobody bothers with old templates now.  All the ones available are fairly new compositions.  Fortunately, I had an ace.  The template I use on all my other blogs is also quite old.  I loaded that template into this blog and all problems disappeared.  The blog now looks different but the content is the same.

The whole problem-solving challenge did however really wind me up -- so I didn't get to sleep until 2am in the morning