Author Topic: Social class, kids, and future opportunities  (Read 5509 times)

mousebandit

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Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« on: October 30, 2017, 11:15:52 PM »
I hope this post doesn't ramble too much, but I'd like to open a dialogue on social class and how it impacts kids and their future opportunities, including how to consciously choose what sort of social class you want your family to identify with and be around.  Background:  I grew up pretty poor, in a rural area, with older parents (youngest of a lot of kids).  Mom stayed home, dad worked, sometimes as small businessman, sometimes as truck driver/union.  Both parents grew up through the depression, so we had lots and lots of poverty and depression minded  thinking.  Small rural town went from tough to worse with loss of local industry and the arrival of meth.  Now it's just a welfare / drugfest and going downhill daily.  The local schools are literally some of the worst in the country, certainly the worst in the state.  You get the picture. 

As I began my mmm journey, honestly these forums were my first real exposure to forward thinking individuals, people with any sort of financial plans or optimistic financial future.  The realization that, at age 46, I have had almost no exposure to any social class other than the very bottom of the barrel, has been slow in coming to me.  But I'm getting it.  And my mind is opening up.  And I vehemently do not want my children raised with the same mental and social limitations on them, simply by default. 

I have always felt like a country girl,  and have been known to ridicule and loathe city lifestyle.  And while I still vastly prefer the rural, even isolated, lifestyle for myself, I am beginning to see the benefits of a different social structure for my children, as they grow up.  I am finally getting the fact that there are zero social opportunities for the kids here, or anywhere near here.  What is a nearly unheard of accomplishment for kids coming from this town, to grow up, graduate from college, and secure a solid profession, i know realize is a baseline achievement in many social classes. 

The husband and I have already agreed that we will need to move soon, as our town and county is self-imploding.  We will probably be moving out of state.  We had intended to move somewhere rural still, but with him advocating being closer to a decent sized town, and me wanting more isolation.  Now I am rethinking all this. 

I guess I'm looking for your experiences and input into how much your families social class impacted your adult life, financial stability, and opportunities, as well as your overall happiness and satisfaction with life.  How would you suggest "moving up" in social class? 

We have traveled with work a lot, and despite making good income and having good financial choices, we still tended to socialize with folks quite similar to those in our hometown.  Nice, moral, stable, but still tentatively so, and prone to drama, crisis, etc.  I'm ready to make significant changes for my children's futures. 

We homeschool them, and certainly in our area, that is the only option I would consider, and it's definitely what I'd prefer for their entire schooling.  However, I look at the examples I see of people who gratuated from private schools, prep schools, and I see that their connections, experiences, and expectations in the social circles of those schools seems hugely beneficial, and miles above what I've experienced. 

How important do you think these social circles are to a child's future?  Obviously, we are currently in the "dregs of society" circle, lol.  How far "up" does one need to go before you can be reasonably sure that you're providing enough social advantage for your kids?  And when does it become, say, inefficient investment?  Like a very good town, homeschool, and social clubs, versus expensive prep school and exclusive social groups? 

I hope this doesn't come off sounding totally hokey.  I have learned a ton from the people on this forum, and had my perspective and beliefs seriously adjusted.  I honestly don't have anyone in my life that I can talk to about this.  They are all down here in the trenches, as well, and I think most would be horribly offended, as we are kind of regarded as "upper class" around here, which is obviously very relative.  Sort of like king of the dweebs, iykwim.  Anyways, looking forward to your thoughts.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 12:14:43 AM by mousebandit »

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2017, 12:32:36 AM »
I'd be looking for a "good town, homeschool, and social clubs," with a variety of social classses.

You might want to look for a place with good enough schools, should you wish to branch out beyond home schooling. For me school was school. You learned some shit, and made some friends.

But university/college is where I generated the career type networks. It was the growing up with a variety of social classes that helped form those relationships in college. My network is full of successful people in various industries from a very diverse upbringings (parents who were in gangs, to multimillionaires, and plenty in between).
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Laura33

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2017, 06:47:23 AM »
First, I get where you are coming from, from sort of the opposite perspective:  we were poor for many of those "formative" years, but my mom came from a very solid Midwestern middle-class background, so even though we didn't have money, we had those productive "middle class" values of living within your means, working hard, saving, delayed gratification, etc.  At the same time, being LMC financially meant that there were many upper-class opportunities that I just wasn't aware of -- like I discovered in my 30s that I have a pretty good natural golf swing, so who knows what might have happened if I had grown up with a golf club in my hand?  Not that my life sucks!  But that realization as an adult of all of the options that were out there that literally never even occurred to me as options when I was a kid was pretty striking.

I would suggest that you re-examine some of your preconceived notions about what people are actually like in more populated areas.  We live in a first-ring suburb, what I'd probably call MC/UMC, but not in any way wealthy (we have two professional incomes, and I'm pretty confident that we are wealthier than most of our neighbors).  And I can tell you that our entire neighborhood is "nice, moral, stable" -- and that most of us would be incredibly insulted for some outsider to assume otherwise without knowing a thing about us.  We are sort of normal middle America -- the economy is pretty decent, we have tree-lined streets and shops that we can walk to, parks and libraries, an ice-cream store that we spend way too much money on in the summer (they call us the "first family" for a reason), we have pretty good public schools and a number of private and religious options if you prefer, many people go to church on Sunday, and the only crime has been petty theft from various detached garages.  And yet we're all of 6 miles from the city center, I have a 16-minute commute to a job that pays me way more than I am worth, and my kids get to go to school with people of all races, colors, creeds, and social status.

I get the sense that you are operating out of fear -- fear of those big bad immoral city people, fear of all of the things that can go wrong if you move even slightly out of your comfort zone.  That itself is the most damaging concept to pass on to your kids, because it locks them in to an environment where there is nothing to do and no real opportunity.  And it also undervalues both yourself and your kids:  they are not so weak that they will be easily corrupted by the mere exposure to those big bad city people.  And really, are they less safe here compared to where you are?  Just about the worst thing the kids get into here is pot and beer -- and even that is unlikely for my DD and her friends, given how well the schools have drilled the anti-drug message in to them, and their knowledge that they are going to go to college and don't want to do something stupid that will mess up those plans.  But compared to "let's do some meth because there's nothing else to do -- and hey, if we make it, we can sell it for a lot more money than we can make at the Arby's" -- well, I'l happily take the risk that my daughter smokes a joint, thanks very much.   

In terms of how "high" you need to go, I think it has more to do with your environment and peer group.  We have chosen not to pay for private school.  I'm sure there are networking opportunities and "connections" and the like there, but that's not what we're about personally, and I don't want my kids surrounded by a peer group that is about conspicuous consumption (the closest private is all about its riding program -- thanks, but don't need to get my kid hooked on a hobby that costs more than mine!).  For me, the thing that is most important is for my kids to see the world as full of opportunities that are open to them.  My kid is going to a HS where there is the constant expectation that Kids Will Go To College, where both the teachers and her peer group expect her to go out in the world and get educated and get a job that is somewhat interesting and where she can contribute.  And there are plenty of opportunities for her to get that education, from vo-tech in HS to community college courses towards to the state public to a variety of small private colleges.  That is what I want for my kid:  the attitude that the world is a big place, full of opportunity and interesting people, and that she has the ability -- and the right -- to take her place in it.  I can't smooth the way for her with my connections and largesse, but I can sure give her a childhood in an area where that is what her teachers and peer group expect of her, and where she will develop the skills she will need to make her own way in it.
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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2017, 07:58:01 AM »
Interesting background you shared, of good income, travel, etc while living in and feeling stuck in a drug pit.
I would suggest getting out, for your own good & that of your kids.
Congratulations on homeschooling, we do this as well. It is a big commitment.

The social circles will be 'better' to an extent in a better area. The kids will have 'better' neighborhood kids to play with and more opportunities @ the local park & rec, etc. I'd consider what we have to be upper-middle class.

We have decided *not* to push them to the higher circles: i.e. premium private schools, elite sports, etc. I personally am somewhat repulsed by some of what I see there: extreme self-focus, consumption, narcissism.

We try to instill in the kids, and practice ourselves, a mindset of continual growth and improvement. Critical thinking, always learning how things work, always trying to improve how we interact with and treat others. Easier said than done. You did not mention a church or religious aspect, but this is truly foundational for us. It gives us the real purpose, meaning of life.

best of luck!!
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lizzzi

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2017, 07:59:44 AM »
I can totally relate. I achieved what was considered a stunning accomplishment considering my family  and socio-economic level--I got myself through a community college and came out with an associate's degree. That got me into the Air Force as a Lieutenant. (They badly needed nurses at the time, so weren't requiring the bachelor's degree for RNs.) I was on the opposite end of the country from my home-of-record, so was able to meet eligible guys for the first time on the same level... they would look At me rather than looking down at me.  What a relief not to be that girl with the embarrassing family from the wrong side of the tracks. The military was what leveled out the playing field and gave me a middle-class life with a guy who worked steady and didn't drink to excess... and the ability to provide a nice, middle-class, socially acceptable background for the kids. I don't think you have to go too "high" or turn into some kind of social-climbing, ritzy snob. I went from an environment where unemployment, alcohol, verbal abuse, no money, etc. was the norm, to a level where I rubbed elbows and lived and socialized with nice, normal people in okay school systems and neighborhoods--nothing too high-class--people like teachers, policemen, nurses, electricians, etc. People who owned three-bedroom homes and drove Toyotas. Doesn't sound like much, but compared to where I came from, that kind of lifestyle seemed like heaven.

Illgetthere

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2017, 08:14:45 AM »
I agree that you need to get your kids out of the environment they are in. It is hard to pull yourself up from that level of social class without someTHING pulling you away. I don't think private/prep schools are necessary or, really, even reasonable. We are in a middle to upper middle class town with excellent public schools. However, we picked a very middle-of-the-line neighborhood. I don't want my kids to have all their friends getting new cars for their 16th bday or having many expensive gadgets to compare themselves to. Yes, we shouldn't compare ourselves to others, but that is hard to fully get through to teenagers. However, I do want them to associate with people of all levels.

NeonPegasus

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2017, 08:29:48 AM »
I'd like to open a dialogue on social class and how it impacts kids and their future opportunities, including how to consciously choose what sort of social class you want your family to identify with and be around.

As I began my mmm journey, honestly these forums were my first real exposure to forward thinking individuals, people with any sort of financial plans or optimistic financial future.  The realization that, at age 46, I have had almost no exposure to any social class other than the very bottom of the barrel, has been slow in coming to me.

Your background sounds a lot like that of my father in law. He was born in '36. His dad left early on. He grew up on a farm with his aunts and grandfather. The oldest of the aunts took it upon herself to ensure that she and her sisters were cultivated and not country bumpkins and introduced them to things her mom never did. My FIL was poor but his family valued education and through going to college and working at Yellowstone Park during the summers (a big deal for a rural TN boy), he started seeing the world expand. He had a couple of highly educated men (uncles?) who guided his path and opened opportunities (one was an agricultural attache to Switzerland or some such) and he helped him tour Europe in college. Another uncle paid for him to go to Harvard for his Master's degree. The point is that one can have very humble beginnings and grow outside of the social circle but it takes help, connections and effort.

I have always felt like a country girl,  and have been known to ridicule and loathe city lifestyle.  And while I still vastly prefer the rural, even isolated, lifestyle for myself, I am beginning to see the benefits of a different social structure for my children, as they grow up.  I am finally getting the fact that there are zero social opportunities for the kids here, or anywhere near here.  What is a nearly unheard of accomplishment for kids coming from this town, to grow up, graduate from college, and secure a solid profession, i know realize is a baseline achievement in many social classes.

This reminds me of where I went to high school. The pride in being "country" however, spilled over into pride of being bigoted, misogynist, close minded and jingoist. I did not see any correlation between being "country" and being moral or less consumeristic, however. Poor or not, they blew money on the latest and greatest but instead of BMWs, it was jacked up dualies. Of course, that didn't apply to all people but that's because geography doesn't dictate values. What geographic isolation does, however, is reduce the number of differing viewpoints that one is exposed to, which in turn keeps one's horizons fixed. And if you're (general you) scared of every other different kind of person, you don't want to leave and if there's no good jobs, you don't bother to pay for an education to get one. Your  definition of achievement is as limited as your horizon.

I guess I'm looking for your experiences and input into how much your families social class impacted your adult life, financial stability, and opportunities, as well as your overall happiness and satisfaction with life.  How would you suggest "moving up" in social class? 

My family ended up in podunk GA because it was close to family. Thankfully, everyone in my family valued education so it counteracted the prevailing attitude where I lived. Because of that, though, I never fit in and school was miserable. Getting out of school and going to college in a metro area was FANTASTIC. It took 3 years of college but I broke up with my long-term hometown boyfriend and that further cemented my break with that town. I ended up marrying someone from the suburbs of metro Atlanta. Because of his father's accumulated wealth and knowledge, I have learned so much about wealth building strategies and that has really helped our family. Without being exposed to it, I never would have even known that these things existed but learning about them expanded my horizons and expectations about what is possible.

We homeschool them, and certainly in our area, that is the only option I would consider, and it's definitely what I'd prefer for their entire schooling.  However, I look at the examples I see of people who gratuated from private schools, prep schools, and I see that their connections, experiences, and expectations in the social circles of those schools seems hugely beneficial, and miles above what I've experienced. 

How important do you think these social circles are to a child's future?  Obviously, we are currently in the "dregs of society" circle, lol.  How far "up" does one need to go before you can be reasonably sure that you're providing enough social advantage for your kids? 

I think the biggest deal is college connections. I went to college with plenty of private school kids. Everything sort of reset when we went to college and alumnae connections have been more important. So, I don't think private school is needed to give your kids a boost. A good college is more important.

It bears saying, private schools and even public schools in wealthy areas come with downsides beyond just the cost. Rich kids are often spoiled, unhappy kids. And the spoiled kids can be nasty to the other students whose parents don't subscribe to that sort of life. My DH went to a wealthy public school and there were a lot of drugs, a lot of consumerism, little racial or economic diversity and very little understanding of or compassion for the struggles of less fortunate.

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2017, 10:22:20 AM »
I would advise you to give some serious thought and consideration to the reasons why you want your family to “move up” in social circles.  What attracts you to those lifestyles?  What values do those circles have that you want for yourself and your family?
Don’t stop there though.  Look back on the culture that you grew up in.  You seem to have a good idea of what the negatives are but what are the positives?  What are the good parts of that culture that you want to make sure stay with your children and your family no matter what social circle you find yourselves in?  What lessons can be learned, not only from exposing your children to the “upper class” but also to the “lower class”?
Finally, do some research into the dangers and pitfalls of the social class you’re aspiring to.  Drug problems are not exclusive to poor communities.  Issues with unhappiness, depression, helplessness, eating disorders are just a sample of the problems that can be prevalent to upper class families.  How will you help protect your children from these issues?
Two great books that I would recommend regarding this are “Hillbilly Elegy” and “How to Raise an Adult”.  Both will give you some perspective on the good and bad of each economic class.

mm1970

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2017, 10:53:19 AM »
I think that as parents, you have the biggest effect on your kids.

I grew up in a small, rural area with "the dregs", as you put it.  I mean, these days it's a lot of meth and heroin.  Back then it was more alcohol.  Still a lot of welfare, not a lot of good jobs (what we did have are gone now).

My parents were married (until I was 15, anyway).  My parents were not abusing any substances (at the time).  My parents were very frugal, stiff upper lip, hard working.  So, that's where I come from.  Most of my 9 siblings are also stiff upper lip, hard worker types.  Hard work is a key word here.  Neither parent went to college.  My dad liked to read though, and listen to Beethoven. 

I was the first sibling (8th of 9) to go to college right out of HS.  How did that happen?  #1 my teachers suggested it.  (My dad never would have - so there's a difference right there.  He thought women should get married and have babies.)  #2 I worked really hard.

So yes, this hick country girl went off to a top 10 engineering school, and that's where life began for me.  That's where I got my degree, went into the military, and started making connections.

Many of my siblings still live in or near my hometown.  And they are doing...okay.  They all have jobs, even though not all great jobs.  And the work ethic thing means that there is at least a degree of separation, if not 2, from "drama".  I have siblings whose in-laws are on drugs or on welfare, by my siblings themselves are not.

Because of all this, I consider myself able to hang with just about everyone.  I clearly don't "fit" terribly well with many of my family members anymore, but we still get along (that's more political than class, though).  My coworkers and local friends are generally shocked to realize that I grew up poor in a rural town and my parents didn't go to college.  I guess I'm well assimilated.  I even thing I can hang with the wealthy folks, but I don't really know - because they just aren't my people.  Even though many many people around here are upper middle class and always have been - I generally don't choose to spend my time there. 

What happens to your kids will depend on you and their personalities.  Many of my cousins have moved on and out of the area.  Some have stayed.  Traveling, going away to college - all those things can affect it - but it will depend on your kid.

I could never move back home, not the least because there are no engineering jobs.

mm1970

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2017, 10:55:14 AM »
Interesting background you shared, of good income, travel, etc while living in and feeling stuck in a drug pit.
I would suggest getting out, for your own good & that of your kids.
Congratulations on homeschooling, we do this as well. It is a big commitment.

The social circles will be 'better' to an extent in a better area. The kids will have 'better' neighborhood kids to play with and more opportunities @ the local park & rec, etc. I'd consider what we have to be upper-middle class.

We have decided *not* to push them to the higher circles: i.e. premium private schools, elite sports, etc. I personally am somewhat repulsed by some of what I see there: extreme self-focus, consumption, narcissism.


We try to instill in the kids, and practice ourselves, a mindset of continual growth and improvement. Critical thinking, always learning how things work, always trying to improve how we interact with and treat others. Easier said than done. You did not mention a church or religious aspect, but this is truly foundational for us. It gives us the real purpose, meaning of life.

best of luck!!
I was trying to get at this, and you put it much better.

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2017, 10:59:19 AM »
I grew up lower middle class in a rural area. We lived five miles from town and with no transportation options, it might as well have been 100 miles. My family owned a good amount of acreage, so I was able to run around outside, build forts, play in the creek, etc. It was a good place to be a child.

It was a terrible place to be an adolescent.

I felt very socially isolated until I was old enough to drive. That is when my world started to open up because I was able to socialize with friends, participate after school and really dream of getting away from that town.

Because I was a naturally good student and my family did value education, I was able to attend a very good private college where I met other students from literally all over the world. Some of them were "poor" kids like me, while others were from extremely wealthy families. That is where I learned to converse with people of all classes and colors. It changed my life forever and for the better.

To answer your question, my family of origin taught me values such as hard work, resourcefulness, the importance of family, and the value of education. Moving away from my family opened up a world of financial sophistication, career orientation and seeing myself as a global citizen. I absolutely could not have gotten that if I stayed in my hometown.


mousebandit

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2017, 11:19:44 AM »
And this is why I am continually impressed with mmm forums.  Thank you all for thoughtful and helpful discussion!  I have just a minute right now or respond, but I see so much truth in what you're saying.  Yes, I have been operating out of fear, a lot of it.  I am realizing that.  I have been moving more and more towards isolation as a way to protect the kids, and because it soothes my soul and I am very naturally a hermit.  But I am seeing the limitations there.  we had never anticipated college for the kids, in part because of what we saw as the liberal anti-Christian influence there, and because of the declining value of a degree combIned with the high costs.  I am not yet convinced that college is a must for every kid, but I am a lot more persuaded of its value and usefulness than I used to be.  And now that I see it very possible for us to fully fund a good college education for each of our children, rather than assuming they would have to take out loans, I see that it can be done without wing a money pit.  So I am more open to it.   I am very much interested in travel and exposing the kids to other cultures and socio economic situations while they are young.  At this point, their concept of the lower classes is what they see around them here, and it certainly doesn't inspire much desire towards altruism or wanting to further any social aid programs. 

I think it will continue to be important to us to be able to continue some of the aspects of a rural lifestyle, animals, small livestock, acreage, big gardens and food preservation.  Self sufficiency is a big thing for us, and while I believe that a lot of my attraction to it came from a place of fear and distrust, I have come to thoroughly enjoy it for its promotion of a good work ethic, the teaching of direct consequences, and so many practical hands-on skills, not to mention the money savings.  I also think it discourages consumerism, and I will want to continue that. 

I have to get back to school with the kids, but keep the discussion going!  Thank you all very much!  It is amazing to me how much I didn't know that I don't know, lol!  Oh, and I'm reading white trash cash journal.  He hits it exactly right on the head!

MayDay

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2017, 11:24:39 AM »
I grew up lower middle in terms of income but my parents were we'll educated and came from stable families of origin that valued hard work and academics.

There are plenty of "white trash" people who have loads of money (Duck Dynasty lol).

There is an element of both. My parents put things like summer camp and music lessons and vacations on CC's and those experiences definitely help me fit in with more upper class people (and as an adult our HHI is top 5% so now I am upper class). When I can talk about going to Europe in high school I fit in with a certain group.

I would definitely encourage moving towards a town or city with a mix of people. You don't have to live right in it, but it gives your kids HUGE opportunities to have the kind of exposure as a child to different social, financial, ethnic, etc groups.  If you read the stories of adults what grew in poverty, they frequently talk about never feeling like they fit in after they "made it" into the middle class. I want my kids to be exposed to various cultures and income levels while young so that are able to move in whichever direction the want as adults.

I'll also throw out dental work as a social class indicator. Maybe it isn't right but I'll pay any price to fix my kid's teeth because that is seriously limiting.

With homeschooling, I would want the option for them to enroll in a decent high school when the time comes. It sounds like you are religious, but by age 15 you have either taught them right from wrong or it is too late. Academically be it may be hard for you to give a strong high school education yourself, and attending a local school will also give opportunities to start getting college credits. It can also be a source of free trade school. I took a computer technician certification my senior year through the local trade school.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 11:29:54 AM by MayDay »
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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2017, 11:52:51 AM »
I will say off the bat that I am not as big a fan of homeschooling as many people on MMM are. I think it is very difficult to homeschool a child particularly in math and science to be college ready. Even if a child does not go to college, I would want them to have the opportunity. I think by high school there is a lot of value in learning to work in a group, with a variety of different people and exposure to different ideas. My children are 29 and 26 and self supporting and I was pretty satisfied with their public school education. We went with the cheap (er), small house in a good school district plan and it worked out well for us.  My parents valued education and although we didn't travel internationally, we went to the closest big city often for museums, saw plays (even went  to NYC once). They were very liberal with books (when I was in early grade school we had no access to a public library).

My kids went to summer camp (at the Y- not very expensive) and I sought out activities for them. Neither of them particularly did sports- but they had music lessons, our local elementary had a fun summer school where they had a blast, did a play at the local  library, etc. I think we did a good balance between family time and activities. We were active in our church, both kids sang in the choir, did youth group. They both went to college and we paid the cost in full, so they were not burdened with student loans.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 01:14:34 PM by marion10 »

Chesleygirl

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2017, 12:30:28 PM »
I grew up in a wealthy neighborhood but my family was middle class. So to answer your question about "moving up" in social class - it takes a lot more than money. People from old money families have more opportunities than new money families do. It's always going to be that way. They have social connections that others do not have.

I also don't think putting a child in a rich kid prep school is going to help them "move up" in social class. The other kids are gonna know that kid is not from a rich family. The other kids' families take vacations together and their moms are in Junior League together, and their dads play golf at the same ritzy country club that you could never afford, even if you can afford the prep school. You can't just break into their social circles. The poorer kid might even get picked on or ostracized. Kids figure these things out early on, who has money and who doesn't. Sorry to be blunt.

« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 12:38:08 PM by Chesleygirl »

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2017, 12:31:10 PM »
we had never anticipated college for the kids, in part because of what we saw as the liberal anti-Christian influence there
I'm going to assume from this statement that neither you or your spouse ever went to college. Not sure where you are getting this viewpoint, but "college" in the United States includes a very wide variety of institutions with students from more types of backgrounds and belief systems than you might imagine. I attended an elite school as an undergrad, a good regional school for graduate work and was employed for several years at a rapidly growing university. Faculty and students bring their perspectives and beliefs to class with them. There is no single perspective offered by ANY college, no matter how "liberal" they may look from the outside.

Chesleygirl

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2017, 12:35:34 PM »
we had never anticipated college for the kids, in part because of what we saw as the liberal anti-Christian influence there
I'm going to assume from this statement that neither you or your spouse ever went to college. Not sure where you are getting this viewpoint, but "college" in the United States includes a very wide variety of institutions with students from more types of backgrounds and belief systems than you might imagine. I attended an elite school as an undergrad, a good regional school for graduate work and was employed for several years at a rapidly growing university. Faculty and students bring their perspectives and beliefs to class with them. There is no single perspective offered by ANY college, no matter how "liberal" they may look from the outside.

I agree. There are lots of colleges, including Christian colleges that tend to be more conservative. Wide variety out there.

RFAAOATB

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2017, 12:54:19 PM »
Once again, I will voice an opinion that is in the minority and cheer you on to climb the social ladder as much as your budget will comfortably allow, and possibly even more.

As the proud parent of a baby girl, it is likely I will go off the deep end in spoiling her.  My great grandfather had to take care of 8 kids and my grandfather had to take care of five kids.  When you split an income in that many slices there isn't much to go around.  Now my wife and I have two incomes to funnel down to one child for the foreseeable future and I want to rocket her to the upper middle class and further if possible.

I've already got it in my head to plan on moving in about ten years to a more exclusive area aiming before she goes to middle school.  The high schools here are relatively equal which means there is a lot of riff raff with everyone else. 

I'm not convinced on the value of economic diversity in the school/community when low economic prospects are correlated with low behavioral prospects.  Even if economic diversity is better for the community as a whole, it is not in my interest to avoid economic segregation from the lower classes.

One thing I noticed is I grew up middle class and my wife grew up poor.  This is already leading to a conflict of values in future planning.  I want to instill the belief that college is mandatory and I will pay for it, while she says that college is optional. 

You say you grew up on the poor side.  Is that true for your husband as well?  How does this discussion differ when parents have different upbringings?

mousebandit

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2017, 05:17:59 PM »
Great discussion points! 

So, I attended undergrad in bits and pieces, mostly at a local (50 miles away) community college and then the rest through a degree-completion program held on-site at said community college, but degreed by a private christian college a few hundred miles away.  I attended 1 semester of law school, and had to bail out for lack of funding (read: lack of planning.  I had better scholarship opportunities at less preferred school, and I blew that).  Husband had some community college.  Both of us are more of the entrepreneur type, and he has worked the majority of the last 15 years in the trades, making 6 figures since early on.  I have mostly stayed home with kids, but have recently began making moves to become employable again, and did work last tax season as a tax preparer, and got my real estate license this year, just to further our own investing.  We intend to do real estate investment together on the side, while he works one or two more jobs as a civil construction superintendent, and then hopefully be ready for FIRE.  That's about 5 years out. 

Meantime, we have 4 children, ages 5-9.  At this point, husband would never agree to send kids to public or even private school, although things change over time.  I would prefer to keep being their primary educator, but I will absolutely be having them involved in co-ops for the high school STEM courses.  Husband and I are both pretty smart cookies, and we could theoretically handle it ourselves, but with 4 of them, I know it will go better with extra help.  I will also be open to a good public school, or preferably a good private school, but I'm not bent on any one in particular.  I want my kids safe, and not overly exposed to either extreme of society - druggie, poverty lifestyles, or narcisstic, consumerism lifestyles. 

I definitely see the point made by RFAAOATB that while economic diversity may benefit a community, it doesn't necessarily benefit my child.  That said, coming from here, pretty much every socio-economic level will be a new experience for my kids, LOL. 

My husband grew up in more extreme polarities when it came to economic status.  His mother's family of origin was very poor, but all the siblings grew up to be business owners in their communities, very strong work ethic, very strong sense of belonging.  His father's side of the family was pretty dysfunctional, but not super poor, maybe on the lower end of middle class.  As he got older, my husband's family ricocheted from upper class to flat-broke poverty, with changes in his father's health and loss of job. 

I think ChelseyGirl's comments on old money vs new money or less money is very accurate.  I wouldn't want to put my kids in those situations, certainly. 

Marion10, MayDay, and others - how do you feel that the summer camp experiences impacted you as a kid?  Were the daycamp options pretty comparable with going away for weeks at a time?  Was it the specific activities you were involved in, the geographic travels, or the meeting of new kids outside your usual school-circle? 

LifeHappens - that is exactly what I am seeing, the shift from childhood to adolescence is going to make being so rural a disadvantage, rather than a benefit.  It's already becoming an issue.  I had the opposite experience, I think, because I loved the hermit ways, and being isolated from the other kids / teens in my area kept me out of trouble (until I got old enough to drive and then, bingo, I ended up married and a mom before I hit 19). 

Here's a question - how did you feel that it positively impacted you to interact with those of lower socio-economic classes, as you were growing up (say, before college age)?  Did you feel that there were disadvantages or negatives associated with those interactions?  I can pretty easily see the benefits of being exposed to other cultures, and I know some differences in socio-economic class will naturally go along with that, but  coming from where I am, I can't imagine any benefit to any of your children, say, being exposed to the typical kid in our town.  I see nothing but downside from that, sad to say.  I like the idea of traveling with our children to other cultures, and letting them see first hand the poverty that other nations and cultures face, etc, but I do not like the idea of them going to school or social groups with kids like we have here - 3rd and 4th generation drug families, welfare as an accepted way of life, teen pregnancy with multiple fathers as the norm, etc.  After growing up here myself, and now seeing my kids growing up here, I can't for the life of me see any benefit in living around this, or even being exposed to it part-time, like in sports teams, or summer daycamps. 



I really, really appreciate all your comments.  There's so much here I've never really thought about before. 


shelivesthedream

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2017, 02:39:07 AM »
I often find myself feeling like an apologist for the upper middle classes on this forum, so please don't think I'm dismissing the problems that poor kids face growing up which I know have repercussions for the rest of their lives.

Rich kids have problems too. The status-grabbing and one-upmanship that all teenagers engage in transfers to things like holidays in Thailand and multiple iDevices. Owning some amount of designer clothing is normal. How will your child feel if they get £40 pocket money a month and their friends get £200?

And the pressure to succeed can be devastating. You know that you have every advantage in life, so if you fail, not only is it all on you but you failed despite every adult around you's best efforts. Drugs and alcohol are widely available because everyone can afford it and no one needs a part-time job at school. What if college is "mandatory" but your child isn't very academic or has other plans for their life? I went to a top university and honestly, job-wise it was a total waste of my parents' money. I just went because I was supposed to. The most important thing I got out of it was I met my husband at 19, we married young, and now I'm dropping out of the workforce to be a SAHM. It's what I want right now but it's not what everyone wanted for me and I am acutely aware of that. Yes, it's terrible to have no expectations but horizons for rich kids are not as broad as everyone thinks they are. Want to be a plumber? Tough shit. I think I would have made a good carpenter. Not allowed.

There is a good article somewhere on the interwebs about suicide at a high school in (I think) Palo Alto. It is the truth about the highly-motivated upper middle classes. Old money, not so much, because they are secure in their status. But new money upper middles? Their status rests on their children's success.

So shoot as high as you like for yourselves, but don't force your children to climb even higher. And be very aware that money brings pressure as well as freedom. My husband and I might be in a position to get a huge huge discount on private school for our children in the future but I am hesitant. No matter how much a school 'values the whole child' in their prospectus, you don't know what it's like until your child is in the classroom being tutted at for getting a B. (One time I had a meeting with a teacher about why the standard of my work was declining because I got a B one time. The real answer was because I am crushingly depressed and anxious about everyone else's expectations for me. I said I was sorry and would put in more time next time.)

Anyway, take this with a pinch of salt, but be careful to separate your ambitions from the ambitions you have for your children.

marion10

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2017, 08:49:05 AM »
My kids ( and mine as a child) summer camp was for only 1-2 weeks. So not the whole summer. Also Y camps, church camps, etc are pretty inexpensive- not these private camps where people pay thousands of dollars and have their kids gone for 6 weeks. I think the main benefit was independence. It was a chance to get out of their usual routine. We also lived in an inner ring suburb of Chicago - very urban environment, so this was a chance to get out into the woods.

marion10

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2017, 08:56:40 AM »
We've never lived in an extremely poor area- yes- there was some drug use ( I may be naive but not by my kids) as others pointed out rich kids have more $$$ to spend on drugs. I trusted that my kids would be the good influence- I know that sounds crazy- but it seems to have worked.

marion10

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2017, 08:59:39 AM »
Rambling here- I suppose it is whether you see the world as something your child needs to be protected from or something for them to embrace.

Rubic

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2017, 09:59:53 AM »
Book recommendation:

Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century
https://www.amazon.com/Americans-Against-City-Anti-Urbanism-Twentieth/dp/0199973660/

Laura33

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #25 on: November 01, 2017, 10:09:40 AM »
we had never anticipated college for the kids, in part because of what we saw as the liberal anti-Christian influence there

Quote
Here's a question - how did you feel that it positively impacted you to interact with those of lower socio-economic classes, as you were growing up (say, before college age)?  Did you feel that there were disadvantages or negatives associated with those interactions?  I can pretty easily see the benefits of being exposed to other cultures, and I know some differences in socio-economic class will naturally go along with that, but  coming from where I am, I can't imagine any benefit to any of your children, say, being exposed to the typical kid in our town.  I see nothing but downside from that, sad to say.  I like the idea of traveling with our children to other cultures, and letting them see first hand the poverty that other nations and cultures face, etc, but I do not like the idea of them going to school or social groups with kids like we have here - 3rd and 4th generation drug families, welfare as an accepted way of life, teen pregnancy with multiple fathers as the norm, etc.  After growing up here myself, and now seeing my kids growing up here, I can't for the life of me see any benefit in living around this, or even being exposed to it part-time, like in sports teams, or summer daycamps. 

AARGH -- I just lost an entire post, so I will try to re-create.  Advance warning that you are kinda pushing my buttons here, so if some of this comes across as crotchety, I apologize, as that is truly not my intent.

1.  Your analysis is based on a false assumption: that controlling/limiting your kids to parentally-sanctioned experiences now will protect them from falling into temptation.  This is precisely wrong.  You know the stereotype of the preacher's daughter?  Yeah, I went to law school with her.  And she slept around more than anyone I have ever met (except when daddy was visiting, of course, when the makeup and short skirts magically disappeared).  Kids learn how to deal with temptation by being exposed to it, a little at a time -- while they are still under parental supervision and influence, so they don't get the chance to mess up too bad.

2.  And why would you assume that your rural existence is more protective anyway?  Look at your own story: I assume you were raised by parents who tried to impart the same morals you value -- but as soon as you got your driver's license, you were off.  You are currently setting your kids up to make that exact same choice.

3.  I think your view of the "lower socioeconomic classes" is so limited as to be off-base, and I suspect that comes from your own circumscribed experience.  It sounds like you see the world as binary:  there are the "good" people, who work hard and go to church and have good morals; and then you have the "lower socioeconomic classes," who rely on disability/welfare, who sleep around, and who blow all their money on beer and meth.  I think this world view would benefit from getting out of your rural bubble.  Not that people who fit that stereotype don't exist -- of course they do -- but in my area, they are the small minority, and the "lower" and "middle" classes reflect a hundred shades of grey in-between those extremes. 

My neighborhood, for ex., ranges from families getting by on $20-30K/yr* (or less) in retail/education/nonprofit jobs, to people making high-six-figures in professional careers/their own businesses -- because there are jobs in the area that pay everywhere across that range, and opportunities for people to start new businesses (a/k/a customers with sufficient disposable income to buy the products/services).  And those families are overwhelmingly good, decent people who just want what's best for their kids -- they get up and go to work in the morning to pay for a house in a decent, safe neighborhood with decent, safe schools, so they can give their kids the chance to learn what they will need to to do better than the parents did.

3.a.  And some of them are even Democrats.  Or athiests.  Or gay.  Or [insert scary "other" here].

4.  That is a feature, not a bug.  You want your kids exposed to a wide variety of people so they can see both the differences and the similarities; so they can understand that some are born with more and some with less, and yet some of the former crash and burn and some of the latter succeed beyond anyone's expectations; so they can see, up close and personal, the different choices people make, and how those different choices over time lead to different results; so they can see the human being inside the big scary "other"; so they develop empathy and respect for their fellow humans. 

My DD is smart and has the resources to go to a good college.  She hangs around with (i) a teacher's kid who is whip-smart but who worries about how to afford college; (ii) a major athletic talent who is both extremely smart and works her butt off and sets a phenomenal example, and who desperately needs an athletic scholarship because dad works a public service job, but who has a potentially life-threatening physical condition that may prevent that option; (iii) a girl who is struggling to pull Cs in average classes and is worrying about how to support herself at 18 since she likely can't get into college and sure won't qualify for the scholarships she'd need to afford it; and (iv) a girl whose parents probably make less than us but who throw around money to impress people.**  And that is teaching my DD to see and judge by the person inside, not the external trappings -- and to really understand, at a deeper level, how privileged she is to be smart, healthy, and have parents who can afford to send her to college. 

4.a.  This day-to-day experience is especially critical for introverts who would prefer to hole up in their safe zone (like, say, me).  Social skills and connections with other people did not come easily to me; I could learn about what drove different people, and how different daily choices led to different results, only by living and interacting with all of those different people on a daily basis.

5.  From a purely pragmatic perspective, your kids are likely to have jobs where they have to work with people who are different from them.  And if you want your kids to be in the MC/UMC, they are likely going to need to manage kids from those lower socioeconomic classes.  The most effective managers figure out what drives their employees and manage around that.  Ergo, experience with different kinds of people, and a highly-developed sense of empathy, improve the ability to succeed on the job.

6.  Please skip the poverty tourism.  Travel to foreign countries is good to experience the full breadth of human existence, to see and understand how different-yet-similar people can be, to understand how each culture developed and the unique set of challenges and privileges each society presents.  But those other countries are fully-fledged cultures in their own right; they do not exist to provide either a target of first-world pity or an object lesson to your kids about how lucky and privileged they are not to live there.

*Medium-to-high COLA.

** I knew I had done something right when, on the way to the local country club for the girl's sweet sixteen party, my DD said, "boy, X is going to be screwed when she gets out of school, because her parents never make her work for anything."

[Edited for typos]
« Last Edit: November 01, 2017, 11:10:37 AM by Laura33 »
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

merula

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #26 on: November 01, 2017, 10:19:53 AM »
I have to admit, I was a bit taken aback by your description of rural areas as moral when compared to urban ones, while at the same time describing the drug issues there. I think you may want to take some time to consider what you mean, and how stereotypes might play into your perceptions.

Regarding your question on childhood interaction with those of different classes, I grew up in upper-middle-class areas. My parents were a "bootstrap" generation; my dad's family was suburban middle-class, my mom's was rural lower-middle class. Three of four sets of great-grandparents were farmers; one was a union factory worker. My upbringing was a weird mish-mash. My mom is an obsessive couponer, repairs clothing over and over, saves anything that might be useful, etc. My dad is more about showy wealth, so we lived in a house that was far too large.

I went to top-rated suburban public schools in rich areas, but I never fit in. So I would befriend others who didn't fit in, and my friends were primarily lower-middle class. Which meant that as soon as they saw my house, that became a barrier between us. It became easier to just not show people my house; which was pretty easy because I had other friend who also wouldn't show anyone their houses.

At my friends' houses, I was exposed to a lot of things my parents wouldn't approve of, and that I wouldn't approve of for my kids. My friends wore more revealing clothing than my parents would permit, they were sexually active far earlier, there was far less parental involvement in children's lives. I remember one time spending the night at a friend's house and her parents and all their friends got drunk and passed out by 9pm. At their daughter's 14th birthday party. After giving her a card that said "time to get a job". (I feel compelled to mention that these were people I knew from church.)

I think it was valuable to have that experience; it helped me understand that there are people different than me, and allowed me the opportunity to examine those differences and adopt those that I liked. For example, my parents were big on "everyone needs to have their own space"; in effect that meant that I never had to interact with my family if I didn't want to. My friends had to learn to get along with their families (and anyone that a family member invited over) in smaller spaces.

That said, I don't think I would have been able to "take away the parts I like and leave the rest" had I not had a solid foundation of middle-class values. My friends who were raised believing that they were a burden to their parents now post on facebook about how much of a burden their children are. If you're raised in a household where your parents' primary recreation is getting drunk and passing out, it's hard to believe that that's not what all adults do.

StarBright

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #27 on: November 01, 2017, 10:28:08 AM »
I love the forum for these sorts of parenting conversations. I think they are incredible and important conversations to have and I think they all help us to embrace the world a little more :)

My family are suburb/city folks but I relate to your wariness of the upper classes. And I've shared this on the board at least once before but it was a long time ago so I'll share it again.

My parents grew up lower middle class. Dad put himself through college and my parents were the first couple in their families to be able to move up the class ladder.

Before my brother and I were born my parents made the decision to raise us in the same blue collar neighborhood they were raised in. It was very important to them that we understand the hard work and living situations of where we had come from.  It worked out fine for me and it didn't really work for my brother. My parents stressed education, but our schools and surrounding community did not. Growing up in a lower income environment WAS NOT GOOD for my sibling.

My brother decided not to go to college because none of his friends were and kept trying to land (now disappearing) union jobs and taking community college courses here and there. He lives on the same street we grew up on, has had more than one friend that has died from overdoses (though he himself does not do any illegal drugs), and his life is hard. My brother was just notified last week that layoffs will start at the end of December - this will be his 5th layoff and he is in his early 30s. He has not gotten married or had children because he has never felt financially stable enough.

I lucked out and was into schooling and got myself into a big fancy university in the NE. I had been raised in a distinctly blue collar/lower middle class environment and all of the sudden I was in a dorm with girls who rowed crew for Miss Porters' and had summer homes in Rhode Island and Long Island. But also a girl who grew up in a commune in upstate new york and a few other midwesterners (as well as random arab royalty). I didn't know how to operate, but I learned, and the old money girls were actually way nicer than the "new" money girls (probably because the had actually run up against real old money in Europe and knew they were trashy in comparison :))

Going off to college and mixing with other (mostly higher) social classes made my world bigger and more wonderful and also helped me appreciate what I had come from. My life has been better for it. I have had incredible experiences that my family and high school friends will likely never experience and I want that for my children and not the kind of lives my brother and high school friends have. I'm not rolling the dice like my parents did (though I'm sure they did not realize it at the time).

When my husband and I were looking for a town to live with our two children, I ended up choosing a town that is a higher social class. I want college to be an expectation and I want my children to be exposed to the world. But we also chose the best school district that also met our other needs, ethnic and religious diversity, environmentally conscious, etc. So we're not in the "BEST", highest class, town - but a really good town that aligns with our personal values.

Other Points:
Also fwiw- rich kids don't do more drugs than poor/rural kids (I'm talking about regular rich kids, not the Paris Hiltons of the world), they just do different drugs.

I was raised Christian, went off to the most liberal of liberal cities and schools and am still a Christian. Seeing more of the world only led me to embrace my faith more (not less) - but other's mileage may vary on this one.

Long Story Short (too late!): My parents raised us in a purposefully lower class situation and it worked out 50/50 for their two children. I will not be making the same choice as them. 50/50 odds are not good enough for me :)

StarBright

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #28 on: November 01, 2017, 10:35:36 AM »
AARGH -- I just lost an entire post, so I will try to re-create.  Advance warning that you are kinda pushing my buttons here, so if some of this comes across as crotchety, I apologize, as that is truly not my intent.
 . . . . . .

Thank you for taking the time to re-type all of that because it was a WONDERFUL post!

jezebel

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #29 on: November 01, 2017, 11:21:23 AM »
...
4.  That is a feature, not a bug.  You want your kids exposed to a wide variety of people so they can see both the differences and the similarities; so they can understand that some are born with more and some with less, and yet some of the former crash and burn and some of the latter succeed beyond anyone's expectations; so they can see, up close and personal, the different choices people make, and how those different choices over time lead to different results; so they can see the human being inside the big scary "other"; so they develop empathy and respect for their fellow humans. 
...

I also like this whole post.   All lot of what you've said (homeschooling, wanting to keep your kids safe by not exposing them to things, etc) strikes me as an attempt to keep your kids in a bubble, thinking that if you control the environment, you can control the outcome. 

My children go to a relatively poor, urban elementary school.  So they go to school with a lot of poor kids, some who have been exposed to some unpleasant, age-inappropriate, and/or criminal things.  They are still good kids, who have good things to offer. 


ketchup

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #30 on: November 01, 2017, 11:22:49 AM »
Here's a question - how did you feel that it positively impacted you to interact with those of lower socio-economic classes, as you were growing up (say, before college age)?  Did you feel that there were disadvantages or negatives associated with those interactions?  I can pretty easily see the benefits of being exposed to other cultures, and I know some differences in socio-economic class will naturally go along with that, but  coming from where I am, I can't imagine any benefit to any of your children, say, being exposed to the typical kid in our town.  I see nothing but downside from that, sad to say.  I like the idea of traveling with our children to other cultures, and letting them see first hand the poverty that other nations and cultures face, etc, but I do not like the idea of them going to school or social groups with kids like we have here - 3rd and 4th generation drug families, welfare as an accepted way of life, teen pregnancy with multiple fathers as the norm, etc.  After growing up here myself, and now seeing my kids growing up here, I can't for the life of me see any benefit in living around this, or even being exposed to it part-time, like in sports teams, or summer daycamps. 
My background growing up was 90%-white upper-middle-class suburbia.

I met my now-girlfriend online (not a dating site) and visited her for the first time at age 20.  She... did not live in the bubble of 90%-white upper-middle-class suburbia.  Her family was (bluntly) lower-lower-middle-class, broken (multiple divorces and half-siblings), most very heavily into cigarettes, alcohol, or pot (some later got into worse), some on SSI, some welfare, free lunches at school, the works.

It was eye-opening.  I had never known anybody at all like that.  GF knew where she was, and wanted to get out (her siblings and half-siblings did the same).  They knew they weren't getting help or positive influences, and would have to do it themselves.  Some of her family (grandma) were good people.  Some were scumbags (her mom was and is the cartoonish welfare queen caricature that almost doesn't exist outside of her).  Some were just coasting on life and drugs.  Either way, it was all-around toxic.  This was in a "bad part" of a major city.

From her perspective, I'm sure she would have rather not grown up in "the ghetto" but from my perspective, I'm very glad I was exposed to that when I was.  It helped me be ready for Real Life.  It helped me be able to empathize with people in that environment; they were no longer an "other" as another poster put it, but real people I had actually met.

we had never anticipated college for the kids, in part because of what we saw as the liberal anti-Christian influence there
I'd be careful with how many adult decisions you're making on behalf of your children there.

mm1970

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #31 on: November 01, 2017, 12:05:42 PM »
Quote
4.  That is a feature, not a bug.  You want your kids exposed to a wide variety of people so they can see both the differences and the similarities; so they can understand that some are born with more and some with less, and yet some of the former crash and burn and some of the latter succeed beyond anyone's expectations; so they can see, up close and personal, the different choices people make, and how those different choices over time lead to different results; so they can see the human being inside the big scary "other"; so they develop empathy and respect for their fellow humans. 

My DD is smart and has the resources to go to a good college.  She hangs around with (i) a teacher's kid who is whip-smart but who worries about how to afford college; (ii) a major athletic talent who is both extremely smart and works her butt off and sets a phenomenal example, and who desperately needs an athletic scholarship because dad works a public service job, but who has a potentially life-threatening physical condition that may prevent that option; (iii) a girl who is struggling to pull Cs in average classes and is worrying about how to support herself at 18 since she likely can't get into college and sure won't qualify for the scholarships she'd need to afford it; and (iv) a girl whose parents probably make less than us but who throw around money to impress people.**  And that is teaching my DD to see and judge by the person inside, not the external trappings -- and to really understand, at a deeper level, how privileged she is to be smart, healthy, and have parents who can afford to send her to college. 

I liked Laura's whole post, but this point in particular is dead on.  The whole idea of sheltering your kids from other "undesirables", and the idea that rural is better or more moral, is just crazy.

There's so much variety everywhere - being poor is not a moral failing, you know.  Being rich does not make you moral, obv.

My kids are exposed to everything - so that they can see that making bad choices is often associated with bad outcomes - no matter what your social status.  Making good choices is the opposite.  Have empathy for others.

When it comes to homeschooling - I can see why people do it - there are a variety of groups that do, but in my group of friends it's *mostly* the hard core Christians who want to limit their kids' exposure to others.  In some cases, it's uber educated people who don't like the "lower class people" or feel they can give their kids a better education.  And in some cases, kids are special - either highly gifted or disabled and it's hard to provide them the individual attention they need at a school.  Even the hard-core Christians cannot limit their kids' exposure completely, because come on - they are my friends, my kids are their kids' friends, and we are atheist (raised Catholic).  And I'm not uncommon.  It wasn't "college" or "cities" that changed me - to be honest, I remember being in church and in Sunday school at age 10, 11, and 12 and thinking "wow, people actually believe this, huh?"

The bubble is going to burst eventually.  When it comes to the kids, you want them to be SAFE. Sure, there are schools, areas, situations that are "lower class" that aren't SAFE.  But there are others that are just fine with good people there.

thesvenster

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #32 on: November 01, 2017, 12:19:31 PM »
I see Paul Fussell's hilarious book: Class: A guide to the American Caste System hasn't been mentioned yet.

Navigating through the landscape of the American class system is very important.

Mostly, teach your kids how to talk to people (a dying art). Teach your kids that a class system does very much exist in America, as much as we deny it. Get them out of their comfort zone once in a while, take them on a road trip to a different place. Make a point to strike up conversations with a variety of people in every day life. Make sure your kids know how to interact with a variety of age groups, because there's an unhealthy that people now excessively segregate by age group. Most of all, make sure your kids are well read.

And all of the home school haters can buzz off. Homeschooling doesn't have to equal social isolation (as if schools approximate society in any real sense).

thesvenster

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #33 on: November 01, 2017, 12:28:36 PM »
One other thing I'll throw out: as a parent it is absolutely your duty to help your children understand that drug addictions and other dysfunctions exist in the wide world.

However, there's no need to throw your kids into the middle of dysfunctional people. I've seen that argument before, "Drug addictions/pornography/violence on TV/etc are out there! Kids are going to see it sooner or later, don't shelter them!" It's possible to guide kids through these things with out throwing them in the deep end so to speak.

Strive to teach discernment and discretion in a golden mean between letting them fend for themselves and sheltering them.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #34 on: November 01, 2017, 12:42:24 PM »
we had never anticipated college for the kids, in part because of what we saw as the liberal anti-Christian influence there

Quote
1.  Your analysis is based on a false assumption: that controlling/limiting your kids to parentally-sanctioned experiences now will protect them from falling into temptation.  This is precisely wrong.  You know the stereotype of the preacher's daughter?  Yeah, I went to law school with her.  And she slept around more than anyone I have ever met (except when daddy was visiting, of course, when the makeup and short skirts magically disappeared).  Kids learn how to deal with temptation by being exposed to it, a little at a time -- while they are still under parental supervision and influence, so they don't get the chance to mess up too bad.

Huge +1 to this. Your children are going to have to handle the world one day. Much better to do it a little at a time when they're still young enough to be taught by you.

Lucky Girl

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #35 on: November 01, 2017, 12:55:44 PM »
I think you've gotten a lot of great thoughts here.  My story is very similar to many of the above, especially merula.  I have a cousin who was arrested, and cannot relate to most of my relatives because they are living in a somewhat uneducated, lower opportunity bubble.  My parents were the first to go to college, and lifted us out of the lower class.  My siblings and I are all highly successful--probably beyond what my parents could have imagined.  All of us will be able to choose our retirement date by age 50 or before.

A word on private schools--they can be good and bad, and some of both. My parents had some misunderstanding of child rearing and child development which they passed on to me, simply because they did not know better, and because really no one knew better in the 70's.  Some private schools can help correct those bad, typically class-based behaviors that you will never understand are an issue until you are exposed to it.  Soft skills like communication and emotional regulation aren't taught in public schools, so if the parents don't know how to deal with it private schools can really help.  And not all the private school parents are in the country club--some are just looking for the best opportunity for their kids, and stretching to make the money work.  I won't keep my kids in private school forever, definitely not for high school.  But it can be useful under the right circumstances.

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #36 on: November 01, 2017, 02:50:16 PM »
This is a really interesting discussion. OP, seems like you have a few concerns here. Some of them are about economic status, and some of them are about religion/culture.

On religion and culture: I'll echo others in opining that you're doing your kids a disservice by not preparing them for college because you fear a potential liberal bias. You can't protect them from points of view that you don't like forever.  If they're never exposed to other points of view, they'll just be swimming in Christian faith because it's part of their culture, because they've never known anything else, not because they've evaluated it and experienced it in a different context. I'm not saying you have to throw them into unfamiliar waters right away or that you need to send them to public school if you prefer homeschooling. Just don't discount college off the bat.

ETA: on reading more carefully, I see that you're starting to be open to it, and this whole post is inspired by your desire to expand your kids' horizons in every possible way. Kudos to you for starting this discussion. It's a tough one.

Of all stratifications in American society, socioeconomic class is one of the most difficult to discuss. I've found that even among people who are totally comfortable talking about race, class can shut down conversation almost immediately. It's something that we don't even have good language to talk about--immediately, people assume you're making value judgements. I think it's in part because class is so intrinsic to that core American story: good morals and a strong worth ethic will bring you monetary rewards and upward mobility. And when it doesn't work that way, it must be a personal failure.

We also have a traditional narrative of rural areas as somehow more pure and more moral than cities, where different kinds of people get all mixed together. And it fractures along racial lines, too--even though many rural communities are plagued by drug epidemics and lack of opportunities/mobility in the same way that many inner cities are, people often resist comparing the two.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2017, 03:07:53 PM by tyrannostache »

Kathryn K.

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #37 on: November 01, 2017, 03:10:17 PM »
I've thought a lot about the urban vs. rural perspective because of my own city mouse/country mouse family background: my dad grew up on a dairy farm, so needless to say his family was hardworking and poor but 11 of the 12 of the siblings including my dad got 4 year college degrees.  My mom grew up in a wealthy suburb of a major city but despite having a good relationship with her family was always was more attracted to the lifestyle of the area around her family's vacation home (the same area my dad was from and where they met.) Both families were equally "moral".

Then after my dad had an unsuccessful go at farming when I was a young kid, I mostly grew up on an acreage outside a small town that was on the outer edges of a major metro area.  So to my husband who grew up in a very rural area, my hometown area is suburbia, while to my city relatives it's the boondocks/outer limit of the known world :-)

So I did 4-H growing up but also got things like AP Calc and field trips to museums and theater performances through the local public schools (although the public schools were by no means great, they were fine and had enough resources and enough other smart/middle class kids for there to be opportunities if you wanted to take them).  Currently I do professional work remotely so one day I might have traveled for a business meeting with a major tech company and the next day I'm back home surrounded by corn fields and have cow sh*t on my boots from checking our cows.

For me it was beneficial to grow up and now live in relatively small towns (=<10K people) since I feel you get more diversity, at least economically, when there's one school in town so that's where everyone goes and everyone feels "in it together" in the community.  But as I mentioned above you do need a critical mass of desirable peers for your kids. In my high school, there were a decent amount of kids who didn't go on to college and got into trouble but I was on the honors/advanced track so 90% of the time was only around the other kids also in those classes who all planned to go onto college, etc.  And despite being small, my town growing up and current town both have decent resources compared to very remote or economically depressed areas due to proximity to a major metro in one case  and special  circumstances like  being home to a small college and having a couple other large companies headquartered there in the other case.

Long story short, is to realize all areas and classes have pluses and minuses to them and to be open-minded to appreciate and take advantage of the good and leave the rest.  And a lot of it just comes down to your personal preference.  Some things you might think are "high class" or "low class" are more about how you approach them and what you make of them. There was a reference above to horseback riding being elite but it's something I did growing up and recently got back into because i enjoyed it and found ways financially to make it work (I worked cleaning stalls, all of our family travel was to horse shows, etc.).  On the other hand, I would rather stick a fork in my eye rather than play golf since it's just not something I enjoy.

I have a 6 year old daughter and I want her to be comfortable in a wide variety of environments and with a wide variety of people.  I want her to have the grit and practicality that my cousins who grew up in the city seem to lack to a degree but also have a little bit more sophistication and knowledge of the wider world that sometimes rural/country kids are missing...This was super long, but hopefully some of it's helpful to you, OP.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2017, 03:14:04 PM by Kathryn K. »

mm1970

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #38 on: November 02, 2017, 11:41:22 AM »
One other thing I'll throw out: as a parent it is absolutely your duty to help your children understand that drug addictions and other dysfunctions exist in the wide world.

However, there's no need to throw your kids into the middle of dysfunctional people. I've seen that argument before, "Drug addictions/pornography/violence on TV/etc are out there! Kids are going to see it sooner or later, don't shelter them!" It's possible to guide kids through these things with out throwing them in the deep end so to speak.

Strive to teach discernment and discretion in a golden mean between letting them fend for themselves and sheltering them.
It's absolutely important to shelter your children until they are mature enough to understand it.  It's why there is parental guidance on TV and movies, and why I harp on my husband about things he will occasionally try to watch.


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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #39 on: November 02, 2017, 12:23:29 PM »
Absolutely- it is harder now but one of the best parenting decisions we ever made (this is before wi-fi was common), is to have one TV and it was in a common area. Very little solo TV viewing.

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #40 on: November 03, 2017, 01:22:18 AM »
Quote
I guess I'm looking for your experiences and input into how much your families social class impacted your adult life, financial stability, and opportunities, as well as your overall happiness and satisfaction with life. 

Being upper-middle class made me an eligible marriage partner for others from that class.  Stable marriages and good incomes are prevalent in this slice of society.  It makes for a nice life.  (Though someone outside this class can certainly marry into it, people tend to marry within or near to their own class.  And if you're already part of this class your values, sensibilities, expectations, and life already pretty much "fit in" with your spouse's family, social, and professional circles, and you are fully accepted.)

BeanCounter

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #41 on: November 03, 2017, 04:16:52 AM »
We homeschool them, and certainly in our area, that is the only option I would consider, and it's definitely what I'd prefer for their entire schooling.  However, I look at the examples I see of people who gratuated from private schools, prep schools, and I see that their connections, experiences, and expectations in the social circles of those schools seems hugely beneficial, and miles above what I've experienced. 

How important do you think these social circles are to a child's future?  Obviously, we are currently in the "dregs of society" circle, lol.  How far "up" does one need to go before you can be reasonably sure that you're providing enough social advantage for your kids?  And when does it become, say, inefficient investment?  Like a very good town, homeschool, and social clubs, versus expensive prep school and exclusive social groups? 

It matters unfortunately. I think you want them to be in a social circle where secondary education or training are more the norm. Where education and careers (not jobs) are talked about. I think it's preferable to have a bit of diversity with in that range, but not a strong majority of only "upper class" or "lower class". While the networking benefits are good, if you didn't grow up in the country club and prep school lifestyle, you'll likely always feel like an outsider and so will your kids. You don't want them to feel like the "poor kids". On the other hand, if you live in a town where the strong majority of folks are working in a factory, coal mine or service industry, and that's all your kids see, it can be limiting and certainly a tougher hill to climb. I think it's preferable if in addition to a great education, you have a network that includes managers and directors at some larger corporations or small business owners. These folks will help your kids explore career options, and maybe provide them internships or jobs.

BeanCounter

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #42 on: November 03, 2017, 04:26:38 AM »
we had never anticipated college for the kids, in part because of what we saw as the liberal anti-Christian influence there

Quote
1.  Your analysis is based on a false assumption: that controlling/limiting your kids to parentally-sanctioned experiences now will protect them from falling into temptation.  This is precisely wrong.  You know the stereotype of the preacher's daughter?  Yeah, I went to law school with her.  And she slept around more than anyone I have ever met (except when daddy was visiting, of course, when the makeup and short skirts magically disappeared).  Kids learn how to deal with temptation by being exposed to it, a little at a time -- while they are still under parental supervision and influence, so they don't get the chance to mess up too bad.

Huge +1 to this. Your children are going to have to handle the world one day. Much better to do it a little at a time when they're still young enough to be taught by you.
+1
I just read the whole thread and now I don't even know what to say. You don't want your kids to go to college and be educated because your afraid they'll be influenced by liberals? That is crazy to me. Especially since I went to a huge Midwestern state school and was regularly approached by church groups in the student union wanting me to come to bible study.

mm1970

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #43 on: November 03, 2017, 10:40:02 AM »
We homeschool them, and certainly in our area, that is the only option I would consider, and it's definitely what I'd prefer for their entire schooling.  However, I look at the examples I see of people who gratuated from private schools, prep schools, and I see that their connections, experiences, and expectations in the social circles of those schools seems hugely beneficial, and miles above what I've experienced. 

How important do you think these social circles are to a child's future?  Obviously, we are currently in the "dregs of society" circle, lol.  How far "up" does one need to go before you can be reasonably sure that you're providing enough social advantage for your kids?  And when does it become, say, inefficient investment?  Like a very good town, homeschool, and social clubs, versus expensive prep school and exclusive social groups? 

It matters unfortunately. I think you want them to be in a social circle where secondary education or training are more the norm. Where education and careers (not jobs) are talked about. I think it's preferable to have a bit of diversity with in that range, but not a strong majority of only "upper class" or "lower class". While the networking benefits are good, if you didn't grow up in the country club and prep school lifestyle, you'll likely always feel like an outsider and so will your kids. You don't want them to feel like the "poor kids". On the other hand, if you live in a town where the strong majority of folks are working in a factory, coal mine or service industry, and that's all your kids see, it can be limiting and certainly a tougher hill to climb. I think it's preferable if in addition to a great education, you have a network that includes managers and directors at some larger corporations or small business owners. These folks will help your kids explore career options, and maybe provide them internships or jobs.
This is so weird to me.

I don't feel like an outsider.  (grew up poor in a rural area, now live in a wealthy town)

My kids don't feel like outsiders.

Is it because we are engineers and DGAF?

I mean, country club?  For real?

bogart

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #44 on: November 03, 2017, 07:37:18 PM »

This is so weird to me.

I don't feel like an outsider.  (grew up poor in a rural area, now live in a wealthy town)

My kids don't feel like outsiders.

Is it because we are engineers and DGAF?

I mean, country club?  For real?

I had the same reaction to this and various other bits of this thread (I'm not an engineer, but I do have the DGAF bit down).  I mean really, someone else caring how much money I have or how I spend it simply by definition makes them someone whose opinion I am not interested in.  If my car (for example -- but can just as easily be which country club I belong to) isn't fancy enough for you, then your values (at least in that regard) are such that I am indifferent to your opinion of my car/country club.  And if my car/country club shapes your opinion of me, then I am indifferent to it as well. 

And honestly, simply by definition (in terms of how I was raised and what I now feel), caring about that stuff is itself lower class.  Treating people kindly and managing one's life and one's behavior with an eye to their impact on others and on the future (mine, yours, the planet) are the opposite.  And no, you don't have to be a saint or anything (it's OK to, say, drive a vehicle with an engine...), but you have to at least grasp these ideas as a concept, if not a guiding principle.     

shelivesthedream

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #45 on: November 04, 2017, 03:08:20 AM »
I grew up stretched upper middle class. My grandmother grew up borderline upper class (tennis parties and Swiss maids). Clearly the family has come down in the world since then. If you want to fit in, you don't have to BE IN the country club but you have to know how to behave there. That's free, but requires a bit of effort.

My parents have done absolutely zero fancy socialising during my life, but the manners and habits handed down have come down to me. I know how to sit properly, which knife to use, which words are vulgar, how to wear black tie... It helps. I do not use these skills in my daily life but every so often I've been able to whip out my 'best behaviour' and to have it seem natural and comfortable. I have the 'right' accent when need be, though I normally slop it about. People have mistaken me for being really significantly wealthy.

Knowing this stuff matters if you want to hang out with 'those people'. You can get it for free if you find a reliable etiquette book and practice. And it is mostly about being neat and being thoughtful, but in particular socially-constructed ways. But if someone invites you to their country club, you want to know you're behaving the 'right' way.

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #46 on: November 04, 2017, 08:00:22 AM »

This is so weird to me.

I don't feel like an outsider.  (grew up poor in a rural area, now live in a wealthy town)

My kids don't feel like outsiders.

Is it because we are engineers and DGAF?

I mean, country club?  For real?

I had the same reaction to this and various other bits of this thread (I'm not an engineer, but I do have the DGAF bit down).  I mean really, someone else caring how much money I have or how I spend it simply by definition makes them someone whose opinion I am not interested in.  If my car (for example -- but can just as easily be which country club I belong to) isn't fancy enough for you, then your values (at least in that regard) are such that I am indifferent to your opinion of my car/country club.  And if my car/country club shapes your opinion of me, then I am indifferent to it as well. 

And honestly, simply by definition (in terms of how I was raised and what I now feel), caring about that stuff is itself lower class.  Treating people kindly and managing one's life and one's behavior with an eye to their impact on others and on the future (mine, yours, the planet) are the opposite.  And no, you don't have to be a saint or anything (it's OK to, say, drive a vehicle with an engine...), but you have to at least grasp these ideas as a concept, if not a guiding principle.     

I used to think like that but then I started dating and am now married to someone who grew up rural working class.  His dad was a construction worker and mother a SAHM to 4 kids.  I grew up big city upper middle class.  Anyway, seeing things from my now DH's perspective, I realize how important markers of social class can be.  My DH got a scholarship and went to university - he is the only person in his family to have done so - but felt like a total outsider in his university town with his hick accent, lack of manners and social graces, lack of money and lack of clothes (even now he feels extremely uncomfortable in a suit and refuses to wear one which cuts out a lot of careers and social events).  His parents were very poor so they grew/hunted a lot of their own food.  He had never eaten most of the foods that the kids ate in his university town - for example, he'd never eaten Asian food or rice.  He still has the strong country accent but he's learnt to modify himself so that people from other areas can understand him and he now speaks multiple languages (he has an innate talent for them and just picks them up).  But even after all that he's still really intimidated by "upper class" people and feels really out of his depth in certain social circles.

I, on the other hand, am never intimated by people who I perceive to be my 'social betters'.  I went to public school in a large city - and have never been near a country club but, with educated parents like mine and growing up in a big city where I interacted with all types I just don't get intimidated like my DH does.  But, as I said, I never thought about this until I got to know my DH and saw things from his (and his family's) perspective.  I guess the main thing about being middle class is that you don't perceive anyone (no matter how wealthy) as being 'better' than you.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2017, 08:03:14 AM by Hula Hoop »

mm1970

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #47 on: November 04, 2017, 04:15:38 PM »
Quote
I used to think like that but then I started dating and am now married to someone who grew up rural working class.  His dad was a construction worker and mother a SAHM to 4 kids.  I grew up big city upper middle class.  Anyway, seeing things from my now DH's perspective, I realize how important markers of social class can be.  My DH got a scholarship and went to university - he is the only person in his family to have done so - but felt like a total outsider in his university town with his hick accent, lack of manners and social graces, lack of money and lack of clothes (even now he feels extremely uncomfortable in a suit and refuses to wear one which cuts out a lot of careers and social events).  His parents were very poor so they grew/hunted a lot of their own food.  He had never eaten most of the foods that the kids ate in his university town - for example, he'd never eaten Asian food or rice.  He still has the strong country accent but he's learnt to modify himself so that people from other areas can understand him and he now speaks multiple languages (he has an innate talent for them and just picks them up).  But even after all that he's still really intimidated by "upper class" people and feels really out of his depth in certain social circles.

The fascinating part of this to me is that...I could be your dh (except, ya know, female).  That's basically my upbringing to a T, including the university scholarship, and the first one to go (and I'm the 8th of 9 children...).

But I never really felt out of place.  I lost the accent pretty easily.  No Asian food or any ethnic food (unless you count sauerkraut!) as a kid.  My high school was all white, poor, rural.

I'd guess maybe it's a combination of having older siblings, college, and joining the Navy through ROTC that made me feel...less intimidated?  Or maybe it's just me?

I got picked on constantly as a kid for being smart.  I was so glad to leave town.  I grew a thick skin when my parents divorced and I moved after 10th grade.  So in college, when the son of the doctor made snide comments about "oh poor you, getting a military job and crap for wages while we all make twice that!" - I just shrugged and said "hey, I'm just damn lucky to be here."  (I really felt that way but ALSO what I really thought was "dude, you have a 2.0 and I have a 3.7.  Fuck off rich boy."

I do think I need to get my kid in cotillion.  The 11 year  old has horrible table manners.

tralfamadorian

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #48 on: November 04, 2017, 05:05:26 PM »
...I mean, country club?  For real?

I had the same reaction to this and various other bits of this thread...

I had the same reaction as you all. In my experience, only new-money newly elevated UMC care about how much money you have or what social clubs you belong to. 

The country clubs in my area (a relatively wealthy, affluent one) are dying. We've been subtly approached independently from two verbally offering to reduce their six figure joining fee to a low five figures.  Wow, what a bargain! /s

BeanCounter

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Re: Social class, kids, and future opportunities
« Reply #49 on: November 04, 2017, 07:22:00 PM »
...I mean, country club?  For real?

I had the same reaction to this and various other bits of this thread...

I had the same reaction as you all. In my experience, only new-money newly elevated UMC care about how much money you have or what social clubs you belong to. 

The country clubs in my area (a relatively wealthy, affluent one) are dying. We've been subtly approached independently from two verbally offering to reduce their six figure joining fee to a low five figures.  Wow, what a bargain! /s
I did not explain this well. This was my DH's life experience. He went to a somewhat elite boys school. He got in because he is really smart. His parents, a teacher and a social worker believed in getting their child the best education they could but they did not have much money. My DH cleaned the lunchroom after school to help pay for his HIGH SCHOOL education. His classmates parents were physicians, attorneys and business owners (including a local sports team). A few kids came from families where their parents were third generation of money and didn't work at all.
These folks have ALL the connections. Need a college recommendation? Need a job? Someone always knows someone. My DH can walk the walk and talk the talk. He can and does fit in. But he doesn't feel like that's him, that those are his people. He got a great education, and tons of college money because he went to a fantastic school. And he has used those connections to get jobs. But despite all that he doesn't want to put our kids through that feeling of not really fitting in. We have chosen a more middle class/ maybe upper middle class lifestyle for them.