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How Can I Get My Kids to Be More British?

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My parents-in-law are in town from England. They came out to meet their new granddaughter and have been staying with us for the past month. I know that for most, hearing the words "in-laws" and "visiting for a month" incites cold sweats and explosive diarrhea. But not for me. Nope. I'm pumped to have them here. My in-laws are clever, interesting and extremely thoughtful people, and we've been getting some quality bonding time with them. Also, I love that my children have been getting the British influence on steroids. With my husband and his parents among us, it's like the British Invasion at our house. But don't call me Yoko Ono, even though my comparison may have led you to it.

After a tasty meal shared with my in-laws of bangers and mash, followed by a pudding, I really reveled in the Britishness of the moment. And it made me think about how my kids will benefit from having a British side of the family. Things will rub off on my 10-year-old, for sure, but my baby will be raised from the beginning loving "football" and dreaming of Princess Kate.

Here's what else I hope rubs off on my children from across the pond:

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Command of the language

It ain't called English for nothing. When I say to my husband things like, "Why do you have to say 'sshhedule,' can't you say 'schedule'? Why are you putting an "s" on math, it's math!" Then he reminds me that the language IS called English. As much as that chaps my ass, I can't trump that. And I'll admit it, the British use our shared language beautifully. They make effective and regular use of words we rarely ever touch. I hope our baby Stella grows up to be an articulate and effective communicator. Additionally, she's being raised hearing both the American and English versions of her language. I say diapers, they say nappies. To them, it's the cot, not the crib. Peepo, not peek-a-boo and sick not spit-up or worse yet, vomit. And the question of the moment is whether Stella will refer to me as "mom" or "mum." Sometimes even I refer to myself as mum. I know it's gross that I do, but I kind of don't even care that I'm being a poser. It is SO damn cute to hear a kid call out, "Mummy!" However, in the end, I have to be real. I am more of a "mommy."

Sometimes, when no one else is around, I bust out my English accent when speaking to my baby.

The Accent

Let's face it. The British accent makes every word we say (and they invented, may they add) sound good. It makes the biggest creeps sound like a million bucks. Oh, how I wish Stella could acquire the British accent. I feel like this can happen by allowing only my husband and his family to speak to her. My son and I will only communicate through sign language. But being that we don't sign, and we happen to like people, I feel like maybe she won't end up sounding like Hermoine Granger, after all. Sometimes, when no one else is around, I bust out my English accent when speaking to my baby. But most of the time, it either ends up weirdly turning into an Indian accent or I either end up sounding like Madonna or even better, Mrs. Doubtfire. That's what happens when you grow up learning from the best of them—Mr. Belvedere.


How will my baby hold her fork and knife? Will she put the knife down in between every bite like an American or will she hold it in her hand the whole meal through, fork prongs pointed down, like an English rose? Will she put her pajamas under her pillow as a sort of homage to my husband and his English boarding school days? (My son is starting to catch on to that one.) My British husband has exceptional manners which were taught to him by very well-mannered parents. Hopefully, this commitment to formal manners will be ingrained in my children. I'm not a heathen, by any means, but let's just say that while my husband and his family would be black-tie dining at Downton Abbey, I'd probably be pumping mustard onto my fried heaven at the nearest Hot Dog on a Stick.

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A Stiff Upper Lip

Perhaps that well-known, British stiff upper lip will trickle down and balance out mommy's touchy-feely ways. My husband went to boarding school thousands of miles from his parents starting at the age of 9 and never complained. I bawled my eyes out watching The Time Traveler's Wife.

British Culture and Comedy

With the TV permanently set to the BBC, a home-wide ban on the American-version of The Office, and nary a rugby or Premiere League football game missed, I'm pretty sure the kids will get the idea. But can we all agree that the "Keep Calm and Carry On" motif and the thousand renditions thereof, are really played out? Let's try to steer each other away from that. That, and Piers Morgan.


Having spent last summer (can it even be referred to as such?) in London, I can truly appreciate the English resilience and positivity. We've never had a winter here in L.A. as terrible as their summer. They can live and flourish in that weather and not totally give up on life. I hope my kids have that type of resilience.

I love being married to an English/Welsh bloke. I am thrilled to have his lovely parents here. It brings such fun and flavor into our home. I love that my kids will be raised with an appreciation of two wonderful cultures. The rich, British traditions and ways, Buckingham Palace, afternoon tea, the trendy Union Jack pattern, the Queen wearing her hoodie, James Bond, Elton John, Little Britain and Shakespeare.

And all the wonderful things we love about our country, which are pretty much summed up in a song by Lee Greenwood. God bless the USA.

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