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Upper & Upper Middle-Class Parents - Essential Knowledge? - Page 17

post #321 of 345

Our family, DH DD and I, are a middle class family.

 

From my own experience, I was raised with both lower class and upper class upbringing, since my parents were divorced and "street" smart is way more important to me than having "class". There are "classy" people that are trashy and vice versa. You can't buy an education or class, it's something you have to want to teach yourself, so unless your traveling to Italy in the near future or your children are curious about the world you live in and what you and your husband choose to do with your personal lives, then let them ask you when they are ready.

 

I plan on raising DD the way I was raised, immersing her in worldly experiences and teaching her how to change the oil in her car. At the end of the day, it's what information that our children retain is what will stay with them for the rest of their lives and if something bad should ever happen in this world, her knowing how to filter water will be more important than her knowing another language she will not use in her daily life. 

post #322 of 345

Its funny -- when I think of "upper class" skills, I think about sports -- the ones the cost lots of money.  So skiing, sailing and, for girls, horse-back riding.  Maybe in some circles or areas of the country shooting as well.

 

 

 

 

post #323 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by pickle18 View Post

I think talking about sports and other things that are helpful in the corporate world/upper class are easily taught to your children as tools in their toolbox, depending on the social situation they are in.  They may or may not need them, and they may grow up to move in those worlds or not, whether by their own choice or not.  But it can't hurt to teach them.  Not to mention, many general social graces have been discussed here, which are helpful to all.

 

They're only easily taught by some people. I would have no idea how to teach a child to talk about sports, for instance. Conversations about sports make my brain shut down.

 

Your child may want to go to an Ivy League school and be a real mover and shaker in the business world - or they might run from that environment.  Still, even if your child grows up to be a starving artist, she may end up needing to sell herself to galleries, art dealers and potential buyers.  I don't think this thread needs to be about making a value judgment on certain circles of society. You never know whom you might need to associate with, or what circles your children may end up in while trying to achieve their dreams - and I think that's something this thread has presented very well.


Learning to sell oneself is one of the most valuable things a person can learn, no matter what they do. At the very least, they're almost certainly going to face job interviews. I suck at it. I always have, and I probably always will. My mom does, too. We both took an aptitude test years ago (not Myers-Briggs, but that kind ot fhing), and we both scored zero on sales ability. We don't have it. We can't learn it. I've been to job interviews. I know how they work. I suck at them. If I could actually sell myself for what I'm worth to a company, I'd own a house, instead of living in a crappy, too-expensive rented townhouse. But, I don't have it. DS1 has it in spades. He could probably get hired for a job he wasn't qualified for, at twice whta I'd get paid for a job I was highly qualified for, because he can sell. So, again...I think this is a very valuable skill to have, but it's not one I can teach, because I don't understand it. Maybe ds1 can give the other three pointers...although I doubt he's ever really thought about it.

 

post #324 of 345

this whole thread makes my head spin.

post #325 of 345

Storm Bride - I don't blame you - sports are not my thing at all!  I guess I wasn't necessarily thinking you could teach your kid the ins and outs of football so much as, let them know that these things are helpful to learn for conversation, and support their interest in learning it or participating in it if they have one.  It doesn't necessarily have to come directly from you - give them access to books, clubs, teams or other opportunities.  If everything I could teach DS was limited by what I'm good at, enjoy, or thoroughly understand - well, that may be a tiny world indeed! smile.gif

 

 

post #326 of 345

I'm about to run out right now but will come back to post something later (subbing so I won't forget.)

post #327 of 345

Wow. I read this entire thread. 

 

I think all of you would be interested in the book by Charles Murray - Coming Apart. (Many of you will probably be offended by what the book has to say, though.)

 

Random thoughts...

A Classical education helps you to understand why our culture is the way it is. It isn't a weird sort of indoctrination or an outdated collection of so-called "important" works. It can give you a really deep understanding of the modern world and also help to prepare you for a modern career.

 

Fancy Colorado Ski resort? Vail? Aspen?

 

 

--------

 

OP's question was a valid one, imo. No one is happy or comfortable thinking that OP's kids might have some special cultural norms in store for them that our children don't because we're not "upper class".  

 

My grandparents were working class, my parents were middle class (white collar), and I went to a public school in a poor area and also to a private school where all the kids seemed to have doctors and lawyers for parents. At the moment I don't know what DH and I are. We're both unemployed at the moment and I bet we'd qualify for public assistance. DH was wealthy as a child and they lost it all. My mom remarried into the upper class and my dad also now qualifies as belonging to the "upper class". There is certainly a different lifestyle when you make more money. You can afford things that are well-made, so they don't need to be replaced as often. You sometimes acquire a taste for what most Americans would consider to be weird or "fancy" foods.

 

(That book I mentioned above talks about this... like how the "new upper class" probably drinks beer from a microbrewery and not bud light, buys green products, doesn't smoke cigarettes, shops at whole foods, etc. There is a whole sub-culture and quite frankly, many of you on MDC are well aware of this sub-culture and may be living it - upper class or not.)

 

Someone in this thread was talking about being "subtle" about wealth... and it is true. I remember reading a research paper along these lines and it talked about how those on the cusp of wealth tended to buy the lower cost designer purses and such that very ostentatiously screamed "I can afford this!" because they want to be seen as a member of the class above them. While the really wealthy people purchased the even more expensive stuff that sometimes didn't even have a logo on it (think Louis Vuitton purses). They surveyed people in different zip codes and the people from very wealthy zip codes knew right away which purses were the most expensive ones, while the people from the lower earning zip codes chose the most ostentatious ones as being the most expensive. That term "cultural capital" that everyone has been throwing around... it is real and it applies to SO much more than just handbags. 

 

(Just found it. Google "Signaling Status with Luxury Goods: The Role of Brand Prominence" to read the PDF if you are interested.)

 

 

I feel like I am straddling two different worlds sometimes, but I don't mind. There are lots of different sub-cultures in this country and we all have some that we feel more comfortable or less comfortable in. OP just wants to ensure her kids feel comfortable in the sub-culture they are being brought up in since she seems to feel unsure about whether or not she can guide them. ---- And these sub-cultures are not just based on money, though as many posters have mentioned, some opportunities do require more money.


Edited by Calliope84 - 3/27/12 at 8:37pm
post #328 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I find this thread fascinating, but some points to clarify -----

 

100K for a family of 4 even in a moderate income area isn't enough to live the way many are describing -- with a Merc and black tie events and frequent trips to Europe. Not by a long shot. 

 

 



No kidding.  LOL!  We make about that each year, and as a family of 5, we in no way eat at fancy restaurants.  Chipotle is pushing it at times. LOL!  Our kids don't take violin lessons or ride horses (or even have access to any!).  I have no idea about wines.  My kids get their clothes from a consignment store for the most part.  We don't even have a minivan!  LOL!

 

However, we are fortunate.  We have a house that meets our needs, eat healthy meals daily, and do not want for necessities.  We are not "upper class" even with our income, but we are very very fortunate.

 

That being said, the things I want my kids to learn are the things I would want them to learn regardless of our income:

 

1) Actions speak a whole lot more than being able to throw money at something.  Get your hands dirty and help out others.

 

2) They are no better than anyone else.  They do not have the right to act better than anyone else.  All people have value and need to be treated with respect and dignity.

 

3) Poverty is real.  Poverty is NOT "I can't afford the latest electronic gadget" or "I can't afford a $100 outfit".  Poverty is real, crushing, and devastating.  Poverty can lead to things like human trafficking, parents not being able to raise their own children, and people starving.  It is important to know this, understand this, and do your best to help ease the burden.

 

4) Education is important.  Learn everything you can and try your hardest.  The name of the school is not as important as how you applied yourself.

 

5) Laziness is not an option.  If you want something, you need to work for it. 

 

6) Treat yourself with respect.  Do not harm yourself with drugs, crappy food, or neglecting your own needs.

 

7) You are privileged simply because you have food to eat, clean water to drink, medical care when you are sick, and a roof over your head.  Not everyone is that lucky.  Be thankful that you have it, but understand that there are others that do not have basic needs met.  It's ok to appreciate what you have, but it's essential that you realize that it's not the case everywhere.

 

8) Learn about other cultures in the world.  Appreciate the food, arts, lifestyles, and people from around the world.  The world is huge beyond your own doors. 

 

9) Above all, treat every person with dignity and respect.  Everyone you meet plays a role in the world.  Every race, gender, age, class, etc. of people are important, and they are all humans.

 

As you can tell, we are very very big on teaching our children that there are children in the world who do not have even the basic of needs met.  We want to instill a heart for others.  This is very very important to our family, especially considering our middle child lost her birth family due to oppression and poverty.

 

I don't have "upper class" and "lower class" lessons.  I just want my children to be good humans.

post #329 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllyRae View Post

 

That being said, the things I want my kids to learn are the things I would want them to learn regardless of our income:

 

1) Actions speak a whole lot more than being able to throw money at something.  Get your hands dirty and help out others.

 

2) They are no better than anyone else.  They do not have the right to act better than anyone else.  All people have value and need to be treated with respect and dignity.

 

3) Poverty is real.  Poverty is NOT "I can't afford the latest electronic gadget" or "I can't afford a $100 outfit".  Poverty is real, crushing, and devastating.  Poverty can lead to things like human trafficking, parents not being able to raise their own children, and people starving.  It is important to know this, understand this, and do your best to help ease the burden.

 

4) Education is important.  Learn everything you can and try your hardest.  The name of the school is not as important as how you applied yourself.

 

5) Laziness is not an option.  If you want something, you need to work for it. 

 

6) Treat yourself with respect.  Do not harm yourself with drugs, crappy food, or neglecting your own needs.

 

7) You are privileged simply because you have food to eat, clean water to drink, medical care when you are sick, and a roof over your head.  Not everyone is that lucky.  Be thankful that you have it, but understand that there are others that do not have basic needs met.  It's ok to appreciate what you have, but it's essential that you realize that it's not the case everywhere.

 

8) Learn about other cultures in the world.  Appreciate the food, arts, lifestyles, and people from around the world.  The world is huge beyond your own doors. 

 

9) Above all, treat every person with dignity and respect.  Everyone you meet plays a role in the world.  Every race, gender, age, class, etc. of people are important, and they are all humans.

 

As you can tell, we are very very big on teaching our children that there are children in the world who do not have even the basic of needs met.  We want to instill a heart for others.  This is very very important to our family, especially considering our middle child lost her birth family due to oppression and poverty.

 

I don't have "upper class" and "lower class" lessons.  I just want my children to be good humans.


I was going to post something long but I don't have to after reading your post.  You pretty much summed it up.

 

I do live in one of the wealthiest towns in the USA.  The basics that kids are expected to know are Tennis and French.  Parents tend to want kids to know how to dine properly (which fork to use for what; manners; placement of utensils/glasses.)  Sports (soccer, lacrosse, skiing.)

 

Even the kids ask each other where they 'summer'.  The majority of people own at least one summer home (either on the Cape/islands or elsewhere in the world.)

 

post #330 of 345

      Quote:

Originally Posted by Calliope84 View Post

OP's question was a valid one, imo. No one is happy or comfortable thinking that OP's kids might have some special cultural norms in store for them that our children don't because we're not "upper class".  

 

It doesn't make me uncomfortable to acknowledge that different groups have different cultural norms. But cultural norms are complex and based on more than simply income, so it doesn't make much sense to me to ask about the norms for certain income brackets. I don't think there's a specific set that apply to those that earn in the low six figures. That seems like a very arbitrary distinction to me. I think that's why it's been difficult to get a consensus on the answer to the OP's question even after seventeen pages. It doesn't appear there's much "class related" knowledge for that income bracket.  
 
Also, low six-figures in a moderate COL area is not what I consider "upper class" or wealthy anyway, although it's certainly a good living. My family has a single income of less than six figures as do many of the people I know. However, many of those in my family's social circle, particularly the dual income families, earn low six figures (I know what they do and where they work, so it's pretty easy to determine...many are probably mid-100's to low 200's). Our lives are definitely more alike than they are different, so I was pretty amused by the implication here that their kids need to know something mine don't.
 
While the people that I know in that higher income bracket might be able to afford more, we all seem to be doing a lot of the same things. We all value education for our children. Some choose private school, but most choose public (and some of the ones I know well that choose private have mentioned they have to make sacrifices in other areas to afford it).  We all seem to be trying to raise our children to be good human beings and good citizens of the world. We all seem to be trying to enrich their lives the best we can. While they might be able to afford more extra-carricular experiences and vacations, they aren't necessarily different ones. They are not vacationing in Vail or hobnobbing with the rich and famous at The Met. To my knowledge, they are not teaching their children how to pair wines or order from menus in various languages (I don't even think there is a restaurant in the area with a menu like that anyway), and I know some would scoff at the idea. We have a lot in common based on our backgrounds, educations, and careers. The income difference just isn't an issue. If we end up in that income bracket, I'm certain I will not be needing to teach my children anything different.   
 
Also, I've never heard any of these people mention taking a cruise or swimming with the dolphins which someone upthread mentioned were standard experiences for children in this income bracket in her area. Those things just don't seem to be priorities for them. I think this is where issues other than income come into play.  
  

Quote:

Originally Posted by Calliope84 View Post

(That book I mentioned above talks about this... like how the "new upper class" probably drinks beer from a microbrewery and not bud light, buys green products, doesn't smoke cigarettes, shops at whole foods, etc. There is a whole sub-culture and quite frankly, many of you on MDC are well aware of this sub-culture and may be living it - upper class or not.)


I'm not quite sure I understand what the author of that book is trying to get at. I mean I do think I know that sub-culture winky.gif, but it has to do with a lot more than income. I know a lot of non-upper class people who fit that description and some high income earners who are much happier with Bud rather than microbrews, who prefer the regular grocery store or Costco over Whole Foods, and who think green products are weird and/or inferior.  

 

post #331 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by pickle18 View Post

Storm Bride - I don't blame you - sports are not my thing at all!  I guess I wasn't necessarily thinking you could teach your kid the ins and outs of football so much as, let them know that these things are helpful to learn for conversation, and support their interest in learning it or participating in it if they have one.  It doesn't necessarily have to come directly from you - give them access to books, clubs, teams or other opportunities.  If everything I could teach DS was limited by what I'm good at, enjoy, or thoroughly understand - well, that may be a tiny world indeed! smile.gif

 

 



Somehow, I missed this post until now.

 

DS2 already knows more about soccer and hockey (the important one around here) than I do, because his friends talk about it. He talks sports with them a little bit, as well. I think some people figure these things out on their own, and some people don't. DS1 has always known what he needs to know to converse with his friends (higher class than we are - and you can take that pretty much any way you want to). I went to the same school, 25 years earlier than ds1 did, when there was a similar split in "class". Like ds1, I was on the low end. I never figured out what to talk about or how to fit. Partly, I think I just didn't care enough, to be honest. I still don't. If I have to talk sports to get along with someone, we're not going to mesh, anyway.

post #332 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyGrant View Post

 
Also, low six-figures in a moderate COL area is not what I consider "upper class" or wealthy anyway, although it's certainly a good living.

 



After dh's most recent raise, we're getting very close to the six figure barrier. It's not a bad living (and I know several of my neighbours make it work on less), but it's far from "upper class" or wealthy. We live in the cheapest rental accommodation available in our municipality. There is no possibility of buying property - not even a one bedroom apartment to rent out. We take fairly minimalist vacations (our most extravagant, by far, was a trip to Disney World, which was a Christmas gift from my in-laws). We order in an occasional pizza, but very rarely dine out, anywhere. I haven't bought new shoes in almost four years (admittedly, that's only partially financial - it's mostly because it's very hard to find shoes that fit my 7EEEE feet - well, they're honestly more like a 6.5EEEEE). Our retirement savings are about a quarter of what we'd like them to be. We're using a dining suite that I got secondhand over 20 years ago...and it's seen better days. We live larger than my family of origin ever did...but we're definitely not wealthy...and nobody would ever consider us to be upper class.

 

My kids do participate in a fair number of activities, but they're partially paid for through our homeschooling program. DS1 is almost entirely on his own for college tuition.

post #333 of 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbyGrant View Post

      Quote:

 

It doesn't make me uncomfortable to acknowledge that different groups have different cultural norms. But cultural norms are complex and based on more than simply income, so it doesn't make much sense to me to ask about the norms for certain income brackets. I don't think there's a specific set that apply to those that earn in the low six figures. That seems like a very arbitrary distinction to me. I think that's why it's been difficult to get a consensus on the answer to the OP's question even after seventeen pages. It doesn't appear there's much "class related" knowledge for that income bracket.  
 
-----
  

I'm not quite sure I understand what the author of that book is trying to get at. I mean I do think I know that sub-culture winky.gif, but it has to do with a lot more than income. I know a lot of non-upper class people who fit that description and some high income earners who are much happier with Bud rather than microbrews, who prefer the regular grocery store or Costco over Whole Foods, and who think green products are weird and/or inferior.  

 

 

Yes. 100k buys a different lifestyle depending on where you live. So it isn't really a useful cut-off.

 

The author is talking about the "new" upper class, which some people also call the "creative class".  I also know people who are in this sub-culture and don't have a high income. And my mom and step-dad are very "mainstream".  What he was getting at was that he felt that people living in this subculture (which largely does consist of highly educated individuals who have a disproportionate influence on how our society is going to evolve) and their children - are becoming increasingly out of touch with what the rest of America lives like. He shows how the wealthier people all live in the same zip codes... like they are segregating themselves. He argues that back the 60's (for instance), the difference between being rich and being poor was not that big of a cultural difference. Everyone still ate the same foods, still entertained in similar ways, and watched the same shows and movies. Rich people just lived in houses valued at double the average joe's house and dined using more expensive china.

 

Then the book takes a turn and becomes...worse / bizarre / rambling / controversial / interesting...

He talks about how, in lower income communities, the rates of births to unwed mothers have skyrocketed and it has become an accepted way to have kids. But that we know there are poor outcomes when children are raised in single parent households. Then he shows that, in the new upper class, people are still getting married before having kids. He talks about other things like work ethic, having a sense of community and trusting other people, and religion (*wince*) and how those have also eroded in lower income communities. He thinks the culture of political correctness and the idea that "all ways are of equal value" is causing our society to go down hill. He thinks the people with the power in our society right now should actually preach what they are practicing.

 

That, by the way, isn't my opinion... I don't even know if I agree with any of his arguments. Many of you may be offended just reading my synopsis... but don't shoot the messenger, please! ;) It was an intriguing book that poked at many of the things we're either uncomfortable with or with certain cultural norms we don't agree exist.

post #334 of 345

I can't believe people actually talk in terms of class... that seems a tad crude.  Why wouldn't it be framed in terms of "what I'd like my kids to know"... you'd like them to be comfortable ordering in Italian. Ok. You'd like them to be able to hold their own on the golf course as a lot of business transactions take place there.  Sure thing.  But why oh why would you presume to make this about class?  It is about life skills that you would like to prioritize.  I would think nearly anyone who has a yearning to impart certain knowledge to their kids can accomplish that despite their income level? 

 

I would like to ensure my kids understand that people are people no matter what kind of house they live in or brand of car they drive.  I've met fascinating people in ALL socio-economic brackets.  Shouldn't we be teaching kids to look at a person's soul?

post #335 of 345
This thread is old it was talked about a lot in a very heated way, if you would like you can read over the many many pages where folks explain their feelings. They certainly have a right to them. Mostly it was about semantics and helped us understand a lot of sensitivities on both sides I think some folks had not thought of. I would encourage you to read the whole thread before responding if you haven't already. If I remember correctly some responses were so much an attack feeling the the lady who started it never came back, no one really deserved that.
post #336 of 345

I also encourage reading the entire thread before responding.

 

I actually enjoyed this thread, but I don't have any desire to rehash the exact same things that have been said.

 

<<Why wouldn't it be framed in terms of "what I'd like my kids to know"...>>

 

The reason this wouldn't work is that the OPer was trying to figure out what those things were for a specific income bracket. She didn't know what the things were, so your solution wouldn't work for her.

I don't know how to phrase the question so that it wouldn't step on toes.
 

post #337 of 345

As far as teaching your kids to talk about sports, I think it would be more just teaching them that if they don't know much/anything about the subject, they get a lot further by not being rude about it or saying they hate it. Kind of a social nicety thing. Not like you have to sit by for hours while people talk about it, but being able to listen to the conversation for a bit isn't bad. And also, if they understand a bit but something comes up that they're confused by, they can potentially ask, because people like explaining things they are interested in. (On the other hand, this may vary for guys. My experience as an adult woman becoming more interested in football has been that guys are more than eager to answer any questions I have, but a boy or man who asked some of the questions I've asked might just get made fun of.)

 

I had a preceptor once in school who told me that I shouldn't tell people I've just met that I don't like the local team, because it doesn't accomplish anything at all in the conversation--it just shuts down conversation and potentially antagonizes people. I think he had a point. This is a huge football town, but now when it comes up I just say that I don't really follow the team and leave out the part where they annoy me and I'm glad when they lose. 

 

So it seems to me that it is less about the specific topic and more about learning to engage with others on a subject you're not terribly interested in. And generally telling people you've just met that you hate something they're a big fan of doesn't win you any friends. 

post #338 of 345

What I do find interesting is how some of the material signifers of class have gone the way of the dodo --

 

For my mom's generation -- there were certain items that a home had to show that it was middle class.  In her childhood and in her area, a middle class home had a piano and an encyclopedia, a radio and maybe a TV.

 

Right now, I can't think of anything specific that a home "has to have" to make it middle class or upper middle class. 

 

Our nanny has a nicer car and i-phone than I do.  Our friends who are scraping by have flat-screen TVs.  Middle class and upper middle class friends who have married recently haven't registered for sterling silverware or fine china.  Does anyone (with the exception of the very upper class or maybe in the South which has always been more traditional) even have (uninherited) fine china anymore?

post #339 of 345

do carpets count? how about a china vase?

post #340 of 345

Oh wow...I remember this thread....hide.gif

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