If you're a fan of Downton Abbey like me, you already know that kids fall into the "seen but not heard" category.
Little George and Sybbie are off with Nanny, only appearing at afternoon tea for some hugs and kisses, while Little Marigold only gets snippets of time when her real mom calls at the pig farm.
Watching the younger parents of Downton, I've learned quite a few things about how NOT to raise kids. Sure, it's a fictional family, but I think that any parent can avoid certain #parentingfails...like the ones I've observed so far.
Parenting Fail #1: Employing a straight-up crazy nanny - Even with impeccable references, Nanny West made it through the doors of Downton. But Mary Poppins she was not. Not only was she snooty and controlling, but she forbid Barrow from saying "hello" to Sybbie. Turns out she wasn't concerned about germs: she believed Sybbie was a "wicked little cross-breed" who didn't deserve affection. So the takeaway: Be extra vigilant about choosing nannies -- contact all references, do background checks, schedule meet-and-greets, and, um, maybe install a nanny cam?
Parenting Fail #2: Pretending to be your own child's godmother - So this fail isn't entirely Edith's fault; it was just a sign of the times that she felt an elaborate charade was necessary to protect her family's reputation. But, it almost seems like too much to give up a child to a tenant, only to visit her enough to make the tenant's wife suspicious, and then take an interest in being her fairy-godmother-of-sorts. By going it alone, things are more and more complicated. So the takeaway: Be honest with your parents, and hold onto your child; consider adoption right away, even if they're reluctant, because it's better to solve certain adoption roadblocks together.
Parenting Fail #3: Letting your child disrespect the patriarch - Okay, kids can't always control what they say, but Tom should probably stop Sybbie from calling Lord Grantham "Lord Donk." Yes, he deserves the nickname more often than not, but it might be better not to half-insult the man who pays for everything. Sybbie may not be a revolutionary rebel-in-the-making yet, but she should wait at least a few years before becoming one. So the takeaway: Kids are never too young to learn some polite manners, especially the respectful way to greet others.
Parenting Fail #4: Leaving your child for a week to have a secret tryst - Again, this fail on Mary's part can also be blamed as a sign of the times, but...the whole scheme to go out of town just to sex-audition a potential husband also seems a bit much. Especially when all the planning doesn't involve one consideration of leaving George behind for a week! (I mean, won't she miss him? At all?) So the takeaway: When thinking about getting married, consider whether your potential mate would make a good father, especially one to a child who's not his own.
As long as you avoid these four parenting pitfalls, you've pretty much nailed parenting. So fellow Downton Abbey fans, share the #parentingfails you've observed on the show!
Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children's picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea
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Image: Publicity photo of Tom Branson and little Sybbie via PBS Masterpiece