Today I have the immense pleasure of bringing to you the prolific writer, Ken Myers whose guest post is both delightful and realistic- and fortunately this family's story is fiction!
"Why I Don’t Want My Family to Be Like the Bennets"
Recently I have been rereading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. As a parent this time around I noticed a lot of things that I had missed on my previous readings; namely the family dynamics within the Bennet clan. Although we idealize the romances and angst found in these pages we often forget that this family was not very healthy. In fact I would not want my family to be like them at all. Here are some of the troublesome aspects of this literary family:
Distant father – First of all I will talk about Mr. Bennet. The patriarch of the family he should have been the one, at that time, in control of the comings and goings of his household. He should have been hard at work providing for his family. Instead he spent his days making snide remarks, hiding in his study, and did not bother to save enough money to keep his wife and children safe after his death. In fact one of his wife’s chief complaints, of which there were many, is that as soon as he dies they will be homeless and destitute. That is very irresponsible of him! When disaster did strike, in the form of his youngest daughter Lydia running away with Mr. Wickham, he had to rely on his brother in law and future son in law for financial help to get her set up in her new life. As Mr. Bennet’s only stated goal was peace and quiet he did not give a second thought to sending his loud and flighty daughter off with practical strangers and then found it strange that she got in trouble. Even his love for Elizabeth was not enough to make him listen to her wise advice and prevent all this mess from occurring.
Anxious mother – Secondly is the matriarch of the house. As the mother of five daughters Mrs. Bennet was understandably overwhelmed. However noble her goal was to see her daughters married and taken care of financially was, she was still in the wrong with her flighty, loud mouthed and conniving ways. Instead of seeing her daughters as people she saw them as burdens and items to move up in society with. She was not looking out so much for their good but for the fact that if something should happen to her husband she would not be left to take care of them. With no discipline of her own it was no wonder her daughters were wild and untamed. Between the two parents it is a wonder that any of the daughters grew up with enough sense and control to become wives of men with good character. Not only did Mrs. Bennet not teach them anything good, she also filled them full of fear for the future, uncertainty and a wandering eye.
Daughter based only on looks –Jane Bennet, as the oldest, was remarkably level headed. Especially since she was several times only noted for her beauty. While most girls would have gotten caught up in the praise of their beauty and become rather snobbish, the family was lucky that Jane did not have that sort of personality. Perhaps looking after four younger sisters kept her humble and caring despite her mother’s best efforts. But however caring she was Jane was also naive and withdrawn. When Mr. Bingley fell in love with her he had a hard time proposing because he could not tell if she loved him in return. This insecurity and lack of communicational abilities could have jeopardized Jane’s future happiness f it wasn’t for the prodding of her sister. Thankfully it all ended well but I would want my daughter to be confident enough to let a man who was interested in her know she was interested in return and not just sit on the sidelines hoping and wishing.
Daughter with all the responsibility – Elizabeth, poor thing, is one to whom I can really sympathize. As the child with the most wisdom and responsible attitude she ended up in charge of just about everything. However with all the responsibility and none of the power she was helpless to stop trouble once it came into their lives. She could only advise against it to closed ears. However Elizabeth also had her faults. Not only was she judgmental but she was also headstrong and stubborn. Had her parents given her more instruction and less charge over the household perhaps she would have learned to give people the benefit of the doubt.Thankfully Elizabeth also had a lot of caring, due to Jane’s influence I am sure, and that tempered her attitude a great deal. I would want my daughter to have the wisdom of Elizabeth and even the wit, but also the kindness that accompanies it and tempers it to something productive instead of destructive.
Daughter lost in books –Poor Mary, the middle sister, was always lost in her books and music. While I can understand wanting to escape the chaos around her I do not understand how her family so casually dismissed her and even made fun of her. As a family they should have tried to understand her and drawn her out of her books. Although some children can be hard for parents and siblings to understand they should never be treated badly. Instead the family should work even harder to include them and learn about what they are interested in.
Daughter who is a follower – Kitty, though older than Lydia, always followed her sister into trouble. Followers are dangerous people as they seem to have no mind of their own. If one of my children was constantly mimicking the other I would try to find out why. What differences were there that you could pull out of the child and help the child to become a person of their own? It is not true that everyone has to be a leader, but it is important that every child is an individual and should be treated as such. Kitty could have been saved from Lydia’s fate, and may have been due to the circumstances. However I do not like that it took all that trouble for her parents to finally set their foot down and get some discipline intheir daughters’ lives.
Daughter with no self-control –Last but not least is the most notorious of the Bennet clan, Lydia. This flighty, flirty and loud mouthed young girl needed a firm hand and a keen eye to watch over her. Instead she got the freedom she wanted and went to hell in a hand basket. She should serve as a warning to parents who think that letting their children do as they wish is a good parenting style. With a shot gun wedding to a notoriously bad character she stands to have a life of sorrow due to her stupidity and childishness. While her youth is much to blame for her actions her parents should have been watching her close enough, especially knowing her temperament, to make sure this did not happen. Heaven forbid that I ever have a child like her, but if I do I plan to be a very watchful and strict parent. I can’t say that her attitude did not come naturally. Of all the daughters I think Lydia took most after her mother and that is another strike against Mrs. Bennet.
Needless to say my rereading of Pride and Prejudice was an eye opening experience. I sorrow for families and children that live like these people today. In my life I strive to be a fair but disciplined parent. I try to treat my children with respect and demand that they do the same for me and for others. Respect and love make for healthy and stable families.
Ken Myers is the founder of http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.
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