Because I am doing research on Victorian governesses, I was interested to read Rachel Johnson's article about middle class neglect of children in this week's Spectator.
With a few changes, it could have easily been written in the mid-Victorian period. then as now, women were expected to outsource childcare. Now it is for economic reasons, then it was for status and confirming economic status. Now children are expected to have a range of accomplishments, then they were expected to have a range of accomplishments.
Then, commentators worried about the effect of having a working class woman looking after children, now it is Eastern European. Interestingly, in the Victorian age, the nanny appears morel likely to have been English, possibly working class, where as the governess was more prized if she was foreign as then the children could learn another language. Then there was an obsession with homeschooling (in the Regency period there were boarding schools for girls), now among certain sections of society there is a return to homeschooling. How much longer until the governess does make a reappearance?
In other words, the obsession with the neglect of children is nothing new. The guilt women feel is nothing new. The fears about over indulgence by parents who see little of their children is nothing new. There are variations in the terms, but I read the article and thought -- oh, I have heard these arguments before and very recently, but being applied in a slightly different context. I think it is interesting. Are we entering a new Victorian age? Or is it simply that commentators do get worked up by the same things? Or that the problem of balancing childcare against external societal expectations never really goes away?
Oh the other great article in the Spectator is on the demise of the swashbuckling novel. I love swashbucklers and a good adventure story... The swashbuckler is not actually dead. Think Guys with Gear who go novels. Think James Bond. Think Alex Rider. It is these sorts of novels that turn children on to reading.
He has just changed. People still want that sense of adventure.
I love seeing echoes.