‘I don’t like this film, it’s boring,” my daughter commented on The Go-Between, which we forced her and her older sister to watch as part of the old-fashioned upbringing we are trying to thrust upon them.
Watch the films we watched while growing up, read the books we read, visit the places we visited, and so on.
At first they weren’t impressed by the film – about a young boy who delivers love letters between a society lady and a lowly farmer – and made scathing remarks. But they eventually warmed to it and enjoyed it.
I don’t know whether all parents want their children to relive the experiences of their childhood, but I feel they won’t become well-rounded individuals if they don’t.
When my daughters were younger I got them started with stamp collections. I was dismayed to find proper albums costing extortionate sums, so they stuck their stamps into scrap books.
Their enthusiasm didn’t last long, mainly because no-one sends letters so, apart from the occasional stamp from my friend in Austria, the supply was very limited. But at least they’ve done it.
I steered them away from Nintendo handsets, encouraging them to collect fossils and shells; I helped them make weird vegetable animals to enter in country shows, just like I did.
Last year I more or less forced my eldest daughter to read Thomas Hardy, leaving Tess of the D’Urbervilles on her bedside table for months before she eventually picked it up. She liked it, but not enough to devour the entire Hardy collection as I did at her age.
I haven’t gone too far. I haven’t made my daughters scrub the front doorstep as I’d help my nan to do at her Middlesbrough home, or hang rugs over the washing line to beat them clean.
I simply don’t want their experience of life to be restricted to the post 1990s world of Cyber-fun. I want them to grow up knowing about and appreciating what went before.
That’s why I try to prise them out on family walks – usually on hideously muddy paths along which my dad marched me and my siblings 40 years ago – and take them on days out to places we visited as children.
As my children grow older it is becoming more difficult to influence them, but I hope my efforts so far will make a lasting impression.
Hopefully, they will pass some of it onto their own offspring. My parents definitely influenced me, my brother and sister, with their interests and passions.
Next on the list is the film Kes. I’m sure they’ll like it, and even if they don’t, it’s one they’ve got to see.