If there’s one issue I harp on with Intentional Parenting, it is spending time with your kids. With the vast amount of influence you have on your children, the number one way to impact them is giving them your time.
As Downton Abbey closed its final season, they ran a special about the show and how an English household of that stature was run in the early 1900s. In it, they shared the way that children were raised in English aristocracy. Obviously, this was of particular interest to me.
My dear wife got me interested in the show several years ago. I was hesitant but it grew on me quickly.
Seen and Not Heard
Their way was hands off. Children of the day were to be seen and not heard. The custom was for them to spend one hour with their parents which was during tea time. Can you imagine that? One hour! Some of you reading this don’t get one hour a day away from your kids. And, for whatever reason, others you may barely see your kids a total of one hour a week.
The children’s ambition was to be well-behaved enough to have luncheon with the family. So, certainly, as the children got older, they were able to spend more time with the family. Primarily, though, as babies and toddlers the bulk of their time was spent in the nursery with the nanny and nursery maid.
Children of this period were brought up building strong bonds with the servants. We even see this played out during the show [Spoiler Alert] in a touching scene where Lady Mary has a moment with Mr. Carson, the butler, whom she is quite fond of, shortly after the death of her husband Matthew.
Once they turned the age of seven, boys would be sent off to boarding school. Then at age 13, off to Eton College or Harrow School, an independent boarding school for English boys. Finally, when they turned 18, they would be off to University at Oxford or Cambridge.
The girls, on the other hand, were raised by a governess who would make them “wife ready” and teach them English, French or perhaps something even like embroidery. They were to learn to have finesse so when they were grown and married they could carry on socially as they were expected.
Having grown up in rural America, I can not imagine growing up that way. But it’s interesting to watch a show like Downton Abbey and get a glimpse of what it might have been like in that time period in another country.