Downton Abbey and parenting

I’ve been watching Downton Abbey on PBS — 3 episodes down — I missed the 1st one, but you can watch them online for a limited time only — and 1 to go.   The story, I believe, is an original screenplay and not taken from a book.  The setting is Edwardian England (early 1900s) and deals with an estate that is being entailed away from the daughters of the current Lord/Earl or whatever he is.  The young man who will inherit has come to live in the area (along with his mother) to get to know the estate and village that will be his one day — supposedly.  The current custodian Earl is accepting of this.  His dowager mother (the wonderful, wonderful Maggie Smith) is not.  She insists there is a way out of this deal and her son must find it.  He must fight for his daughters’ rightful inheritance, as she sees it.   The 3 grown daughters (haven’t figured out their ages yet — somewhere in their 20s or the youngest could be late teen) are trying to figure out their place in all this.  They are 3 very different personalities who do not get along — especially # 1 and # 2.   # 3 is busy with her causes — one being women’s rights.

Daughters #1 and #2 bring me to my thought here.  The parents are very nice people.  They appear to me to be very honest, thoughtful, kind and intelligent.  However, their helplessness to deal with the conflict of D1 and D2 really bothers me.  I realize that when the children are grown, it might be a little too late.  But something tells me that these girls are where they are because the parents didn’t “nip it in the bud” years ago.  And I realize that I’m watching a Drama and where would the drama be if there was no conflict?  But I’m still bothered.

D1 is of course the oldest and she is beautiful.  She is also stubborn and will not marry anyone simply because she is told to marry them.  Even if she fell in love with the man, if she knew that she was expected to marry him, she would back away.  D1 has also made a HUGE mistake which jealous D2 is about to expose.  D2 is not beautiful and feels constant competition for attention from any source with her older sister.  The father has grown to admire the young man that will inherit his estate and would love it if D1 would marry him.  Of course, even though she is liking him, she refuses to do this.  Ah, but D2 sees and tries to go after the young man.  And then there is a much older gentlemen in the picture who is also marriage material for the girls because he is wealthy.  D1 is disgusted by this idea.  But then D2 starts charming him and D1 decides to show her who is #1.  The young man who will inherit sees this and goes walking off in one scene a little heart-broken.  (Are you following this?)  Okay, so the Dad sees what is going on too and makes a statement to his wife that “Mary will never learn.  She thinks she can just throw aside one toy for another and that the 1st toy will still be there when she’s ready to play with it again.”

My point is — these parents know their daughters and they see what is going on.  Why don’t they do something?  Why didn’t they do something long ago?  Earlier the mother had made a comment to one of the maids about thinking that raising daughters was supposed to be like “Little Women,” but she has seen that it is very different.  They have accepted that these girls hate each other and they just stand helplessly on the sidelines.

Bad things have happened and they’re fixin’ to get worse.  Parents you are not helpless.

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