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 Post subject: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 31 Mar 2019, 16:25 
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Seeing as it's Mothering Sunday, whom do people think are the best and worst mums in CS-land? I think worst mum must be a toss-up between Mrs Grantley and Mrs Carrick. Best mum - maybe Mrs Lilley? Frau Mensch and Frau Marani are lovely but a bit too strict, and Mollie Bettany is lovely when she's around but misses most of her four eldest children's childhoods.

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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 31 Mar 2019, 17:01 
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Best mothers would probably include Madge - although she provides more mothering to her nieces, nephews and sister than to Sybil. Mrs. Trelawney is another who mothers her own, plus Verity, Clem and Tony.

Mrs. Cochrane, Mrs. Carrick and Mrs. Grantley share worst mothers, although Professor Richardson is clearly the worst parent in the series.


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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 31 Mar 2019, 21:47 
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What about Mrs Barrass as the worst? She does nothing to prevent her husband's dreadful treatment of their children (except once, and even then only when it was over and, it could be argued, purely for plot-related purposes), doesn't bother to remember to feed or clothe them properly, and generally forgets about them.

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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2019, 09:04 
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KB wrote:
What about Mrs Barrass as the worst? She does nothing to prevent her husband's dreadful treatment of their children (except once, and even then only when it was over and, it could be argued, purely for plot-related purposes), doesn't bother to remember to feed or clothe them properly, and generally forgets about them.


I don't read her quite like that.

I see her as someone who has interests apart from the domestic. EBD criticises her for painting rather than tidying and dusting the sitting room but frankly, few of us would rather do housework than [insert interest here]. We do what s necessary.

Mrs Barrass does what is necessary for her children (she feeds, clothes and makes them go to school). EBD criticises this but actually, she's a "good enough" parent. She doesn't inflict on her children the mental tortures of telling them they are unwanted or behaving so it is clear they are unwanted (Theodora: Grizel:Juliet) nor is she a helicopter parent demanding impossibly good behaviour from her children (Joey and Len, for example)

Whilst her husband's violence is concerning (much of which seems to be bark rather than bite), it was not so much of an issue in the days in which the book was written. (There's also a minor problem that language-use changes so we read some words as more violent than they would have been seen at the time). I am not condoning it but we do need to consider the time at which the book was written.

Katherine Gordon's aunt seems to me to be very like Mrs Barrass and she comes across as someone who lives her life as she wants while carrying out the things the dependent child needs.

It should also be remembered that both Clem and Tony are nice, well-balanced children which doesn't suggest their childhood is significantly problematic. That's not true of Theodora, Grizel or Juliet, for instance.


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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2019, 11:51 
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Thanks for expressing my thoughts so exactly, Victoria :-) - I've always liked Mrs Barras, and the fact that her husband and children aren't all she cares about in life. After all, she's an artist, too (and may well contribute to the household income) though she's less impossible about it than her husband, fortunately.


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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2019, 14:45 
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I'm uncomfortable with Mr Barrass battering Tony, but, at the time, corporal punishment was seen as the norm, and it would have been accepted that the dad was the person to deal with it, especially with a son.

One mum whom I think EBD criticises unfairly is Mrs Winterton. Mr Winterton comes marching in after being abroad for years, moves the family to the other side of the country without even consulting his wife, and says that the girls have got to go to boarding school, but I feel that we’re meant to think that Mrs Winterton is the one in the wrong for not being strict enough. OK, the girls haven’t been given much of an education, but at least she’s always been there for them, and it’s explained that she’s got issues with schools because she’d been bullied in her own schooldays. Give her a break!

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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2019, 15:29 
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jessica Wayne's mum isn't so hot, in my view, I know the stepsister is frail and so on, but I think it was badly handled.
And I don't see Mollie Bettany as a good mum at all! Having all those babies and leaving them to her sister-in-law to bring up!


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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2019, 17:16 
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LucyP wrote:
jessica Wayne's mum isn't so hot, in my view, I know the stepsister is frail and so on, but I think it was badly handled.


I'm not sure I agree, Lucy, as the couple seem to have done all they could to mitigate the new circumstances for Jessica, but she just wasn't having it. Basically, she was hugely jealous. She'd had her mum to herself for years and so resented her step-sister - which I think she would have done even if the poor girl hadn't been disabled.

LucyP wrote:
And I don't see Mollie Bettany as a good mum at all! Having all those babies and leaving them to her sister-in-law to bring up!


Unfortunately, that was the norm for those working out in places like India. The climate was supposedly too harsh for children, and so offspring were often sent to relatives or boarding school, so I don't see that Mollie and Dick had much choice. Carola Johnstone was left with her Aunt Maud by her parents, who were going to Africa, and I have a feeling there were others in the same boat at the CS. It didn't make any of them a bad mum or dad - just accepting of the conditions if they wanted children.

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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2019, 06:56 
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I never liked the way Jessica's family handled the issue,it seems that the attention was suddenly all on the stepsister and Jessica felt ignored.It is not really suprising that she felt neglected and even jealous, it would take a kind of saint to not be.Packing her off to boarding school did nothing to help that situation.
I am not sure any of the Maynard/Russell/Bettany clan were good mothers, with the possible exception of Madge, but things were different then, leaving your children behind was considered normal.


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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2019, 09:32 
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Mollie at least wrote regularly. Carola's parents couldn't even remember how old she was! Katharine Gordon was also left with an aunt whilst her parents were working abroad. And Rosalie presumably spent her holidays with the Burnetts whilst her parents were abroad.

Madge gets criticised for insisting that Sybil and Josette go to Australia with her - I think EBD wrote that very poorly, and wish we'd seen them being excited about getting the chance to spend time in Australia - when Jem is temporarily working there. Mrs Winterton and Mrs Trelawney are both left at home whilst their husbands go abroad, so they are close to their children but effectively have no marriages. And the Maynard boys (once they're at school) get to spend holidays with their parents, but can't have seen them at all during term time.

Jessica must have felt so unwanted - I agree that her family handled things very badly :( .

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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2019, 09:48 
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I see Jessica's mother as meaning well and loving her daughter, but lacking imagination. Jessica goes from having her mother's attention 100% of the time, to getting what scraps of it were left on weekends and holidays. She literally got sent away to weekly board at school immediately after the marriage, while her mother was happily occupied with a new romance and a new, high needs daughter.

I mean, let Jessica do the 10 mile commute to school, but have her mother drive her at least part of the time - that would give them bonding time, and the chance for an occasional mother daughter treat. Combine that with an occasional afternoon out together, while Mr Sefton was with his daughter, and I think Jessica would have been much happier.

With a lot of these family situations, it's worth noting that these girls were born before the pill was available in the UK - an era when planning the absolute best number and timing of kids, or even deciding not to have kids, was not the option it is now. So having kids and then sending them to be raised by relatives was quite a different situation than it is now. What baffles me is how little attention some of these parents paid to the kids back home. And most of them were not in a place where they physically couldn't make a single visit in a decade. Carola's dad can fly back at short notice to deal with her, but neither parent makes a single visit to check on her and see her in person. (Professor Trelawny in the Amazon is a good reason not to be able to visit, but was he really that remote for 10 years?). Mollie and Dick at least make it home to Europe regularly until the war intervenes.

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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 07 Apr 2019, 14:44 
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Ted's mum is the absolute worst. I always felt so sad for Ted, and it's stated they'll never really be close. Honourable mentions for Grizel's stepmum and Juliet's mum too. And I'm reading Kenya right now and while Maisie isn't evil, I do feel a bit sorry for Jo, having to worry about money because her stupid parents are so careless.

Mollie's one of my favourite mums in the series (I'm fairly OK with her leaving her kids with the Russells because a lot of families did, as others have said), and Janie seems to have her head screwed on - she's not as indulgent as Elizabeth but not as snobby and uptight as Anne. I also admire Margot Venables because of how she managed to raise two daughters despite everything she went through, and how she travelled across the world to find Jem.


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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2019, 10:31 
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I feel sorry for Mrs Pertwee, who was left a widow with three young children, didn’t seem to have any other relatives to give her practical or financial help, and wasn’t in good health. I know she was annoying, but did the CS people have to treat her as if she was a big joke? How well would any of them have coped in her position? Margot Venables, as already mentioned, was another one who has to cope in difficult circumstances. Elisaveta getting a job as a charlady when she could have just rung/telegraphed the school, the Russells, the Maynards or indeed the Belsornian embassy wasn’t exactly very realistic, but, again, gold star for coping! There’s a lovely conversation in which she tells Jack that she’s worried about how she’s managing as a single mother, and Jack tells her that she’s doing a wonderful job.

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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2019, 15:11 
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How about Mrs Baker? She lets her daughter have her hair permed, but worst of all she has Shop Cake!


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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2019, 16:32 
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Ah, but if her cake had come from an expensive patisserie, like the cake Joey served in one of the later Swiss books, instead of from the corner shop, it would have been fine :lol: :lol: . Quite seriously, I think the Bakers are good parents – one of the first things they do with their pools winnings is spend money on fees for Joan to attend what they see as a better school, rather than dumping their kids with an auntie or cousin whilst they took off on a round the world cruise, as the Glenyons or Mrs Grantley would have done! Yet they get far more criticism than, say, the Hopes, who let Emerence run wild to the extent that she sets fire to a neighbour's property.

I do love the letter that Mrs Lilley sends Rosamund, when she tells her that everyone's missing her, even the budgie, and gives her all the local gossip, and then gets Mr Lilley to scrawl a few lines at the end. It's so true to life, and says so much about what a loving family they are.

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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2019, 16:44 
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Polly Heriot’s guardians get honourable mention too. They are aware of their limitations, and they are obviously concerned about her. Commander and Mrs. Christie are also lovely. They blend families, deal with Cherrie’s illness and add to the family without outbursts or runaways.


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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2019, 17:20 
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Alison H wrote:
Quite seriously, I think the Bakers are good parents – one of the first things they do with their pools winnings is spend money on fees for Joan to attend what they see as a better school, rather than dumping their kids with an auntie or cousin whilst they took off on a round the world cruise, as the Glenyons or Mrs Grantley would have done! Yet they get far more criticism than, say, the Hopes, who let Emerence run wild to the extent that she sets fire to a neighbour's property.


I'm not sure about that. Isn't it Joan's grandfather who insists that some of the money is used on paying for Joan's education? And her elder sister (admittedly not a parent) immediately breaks off her engagement. I think there is also a reference in one of Mrs Lilley's letters about "I can see it will be easy come easy go with them", and she is proved right because by the time Joan leaves school, all the money is gone.


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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2019, 17:29 
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jennifer wrote:
I mean, let Jessica do the 10 mile commute to school, but have her mother drive her at least part of the time - that would give them bonding time, and the chance for an occasional mother daughter treat. Combine that with an occasional afternoon out together, while Mr Sefton was with his daughter, and I think Jessica would have been much happier.


I doubt if, in those days, anyone thought of driving a girl ten miles to school every day. Jessica would either have been on the bus or the train, or boarding. Mrs Sefton quite possibly didn't even drive and no doubt would not have been allowed to have the family car for her sole use, in case her husband 'needed' it. I should think the most likely scenario, if any driving was to be done, was that Mr Sefton would take her with him when he drove into work each morning, which probably wouldn't have helped at all.


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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 08 Apr 2019, 19:17 
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Although I think Grizel's stepmother is poor, she deserves to be cut some slack in that she hadn't agreed to take a ten-year-old child.
If she hadn't been interested in children herself (and it should be noted that she doesn't have a child of her own for whatever reason) this must have been a near unbearable situation from her pov.
Her claim to the "worst mother" title is strongly as a result of Grizel's father's claim to "worst father".


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 Post subject: Re: Mothering Sunday - best and worst mums in CS-land?
PostPosted: 22 Apr 2019, 11:03 
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I think most of the mothers /fathers /guardians in the CS series are reasonably good parents, although none are perfect. The ones we are inclined to hear about are those with problems.

Apart from the bad parents already mentioned, I would add Erica Standish's mother to that list. She knew very little about the adult Joey. I am not sure of the Indian connections in the book, but presume she would have known the Bettanys. Why not Mollie as guardian for Erica? At least she knew Mollie as a mother.

Both Mollie and Madge seem to have been good mothers. Madge maybe had too many to look after as well as her own family but she was kind and cared. She was maybe at her best in mothering Joey but she also took on Juliet , Robin, four Bettanys, Eustacia to some extent, and Daisy and Primula, although Jo also took them on at different times. What's often forgotten is she also took on Margot for a year when they were in Canada and Margot was anything but easy. True Jo took on Sybil, and to a lesser extent David, but they were older and the responsibility was shared with Dick.

When Peggy Bettany was so fond of her mother, it is a shame she had such a short time with her as she moved abroad on her marriage.

I also think Mrs Lilley was one of the very best mothers. What too about Phoebe adopting two children when not able to get around too well? I suppose Janie was also a good mother but we know so little about most of them.

About bad parents did Ruth Lambert and her husband bear any responsibility for the way Jack turned out?


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