Grandmother’s footsteps

My wife and I are grandparents of 5 grandchildren (8-13 yrs. old) and there is much discussion about how mobiles and social media are changing the behaviours of the grandchildren.  Recently in the Spectator Mary Wakefield published an article that prompted this letter:

Grandmother’s footsteps

Sir: Mary Wakefield’s article evoked many memories (‘In defence of my Victorian childhood’, 4 May). I was brought up by my widowed grandmother, who’d been born around the late 1890s, while my young mother (also widowed) went out to work. According to my gran, children were to be seen and not heard, particularly at the dinner table, meals had to be finished and choice was never an option. If I didn’t eat my food, I went without. Snacking was not a concept she recognised and greed was tantamount to murder, as was ‘showing off’. Gifts had to be responded to, on paper. Adults were to be deferred to at all times. ‘Answering back’ was rewarded with a shaking and the wrong side of her tongue. Injuries were regarded as learning curves.

My grandmother was tiny and terrifying but never cruel, and I loved her very dearly. She prepared me for what life can throw at us at times – which for her was a lot. Entitlement was not a word she would have recognised. She died quietly in her own bed while my mother and I were briefly out of her room; a member of a generation the like of which we will never, sadly, see again.

Linda Willby

Thornton-le-Dale, North Yorkshire.

As someone borne in England in November 1944 and the lived there 1959-73 during the formative years of teenage schooling and university this letter really resonated.  I had a tremendous education in the UK and a fantastic youth but the above letter summarised my upbringing.

I can only agree with the sentiments and be thankful I was raised at such a time.

This post was first published on LinkedIn 27 May 2024.


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