Friday, June 17, 2011

The Return of the Governess

In English novels of the  19th Century, we come across the lovely , essential person called the "Governess".

Her only job was to mind and educate the children, to be nice to them, and to take care of them while the mothers went about the harrowing task of partying and socialising et al. (no pun intended, it IS harrowing and a task)

Who can forget Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music?

Governesses were educated young women from the middle classes. Always, they were treated on par with the members of the family.

And then, sadly, somewhere along the way, we lost them. They reappeared as babysitters in the US and au par girls in Europe, but none of these quite qualifies as "Governess". And that, methinks is the loss of the parenting community - educated , bright young girls who want a house to live in, want to save some money to pay for their college, and also want to love children.

The girl who has been with us for the last 2 years, and is leaving us now, is a "Governess". She works around the house, but only when she wants to and as much as she wants to. She lives in a room of her own like a PG. She is educated upto Class 8, and her primary responsibility is the child.

When i am not at home, i can rest assured that the child will be taken care of like.. i would , and not like a maid would. I know that she is capable of playing jigsaw puzzles and building blocks and cricket and badminton with the child. She will read to him from his books. I know and trust that the child will be fed, and will be cleaned and will be put to sleep at the right time, even if the office is holding me back.

I know that she does not spit, or use foul language, and is conscious of how she and the baby are dressed.

Which brings me to the subject of the post - why shouldnt more girls who have cleared their 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, and are looking for jobs(even if it is to pay for their higher studies) , apply, not as maids , but as Governesses?

Why don't young bright girls who are in town for studies, take up, not PG, but Governess role, that they perform only after their college hours? This way, they get accomodation, they get a family to call their own, they are on par with the family, and they get a set of kids to love (and teach).

Perhaps an attitude change is needed on both sides of the table. More families should consider taking in educated governesses, and not treat them like "maids" or "paid staff" . And more young girls should consider this as a career option.

This will mean better care for our children, and of course, a better experience for young girls currently hankering after that "BPO job" that takes away all day and night and still doesnt pay.

What do you think?


Richa said...

I'd agree. Its better to have a governess than to have a maid. That way, the governess too feels at par like you said.

Onkar said...

Good idea.

BK Chowla, said...

Very good idea.It not only will create a good stream of disciplined children.It will be even make these girls safe

D said...

There's so much stress on the mother's role in bringing up the child that help, no matter how much needed, is generally seen with disdain. The maids are seen as a necessary evil and governesses as a poor subsitute for the parent. But the point you make is right. It makes sense.

rainboy said...

like it.

Manika said...

You're so right! I have a friend working on a training program for exactly this right now - training school educated girls to be governesses and nannies!

~G said...

wonder if the agencies that nowadays operate have given this a thought. how about giving them this idea?

Anonymous said...

Great idea. Agree with the need for change in mindset on both sides. Middle class girls will hold back from this primarily because of the inherent dangers of abuse - verbal, emotional, physical.

Varun said...

Mr. von Trapp is widowed and hence needs a governess.