Upper & Upper Middle-Class Parents - Essential Knowledge? - Page 7 - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-21-2012, 03:52 PM
 
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Can someone PLEASE tell me what working class is, and why it's so different than what we're talking about here? The  OP didn't specify that only those who are independently wealthy need reply. My dad would have met her qualifications for answering this thread, and like many of you, wouldn't have had much to say about whether the kids should know their wines (he didn't), play cricket or rugby or do crew (none of the above), or speak a foreign language (he doesn't). So he made the income we're talking about, but he had a JOB. He WORKED. We weren't poor, so do we not qualify to be working class? We certainly don't qualify to be wealthy...

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Old 02-21-2012, 04:08 PM
 
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I agree mostly with Jolly.  I live in a high COL area of the country and we live comfortably here.  We also have "old" middle class cars, and live in a "middle class" neighborhood, in a 4 BR house with about 2200 sf, which is way smaller than all the McMansions around us.  We spend a LOT of money on music education, because that is important to us (we just estimated how much and it is a lot); our kids attend public schools and are doing fine.

 

The things that are important to me have to do with feeling "comfortable" wherever you are--not to be intimidated.  Part of my motivation for buying this house was for my dad not to be intimidated here--because he is quite intimidated by "McMansions."  (2nd story entryways, etc.).  But I want my children to be able to visit a friend at their "country manor" (good friends) or at their 2 br apt. (good friends as well).  I want my kids to be able to change their tire, balance their checkbook, sew a straight seam with a sewing machine, sew on a button, use a drill, cook 5 kinds of dinner by the time they leave home, budget their money, and learn to save up for something big.  I insisted I would NOT buy American Girl dolls, FE, but my children saved their little allowances for several months and were able to save up for beautiful dolls.  They value them so much.  I want my kids to learn CPR and to learn about true poverty (like someone else said).  Our family does not drink any alcohol for religious reasons, so they will not develop "refined" taste in coffee or wines, but I would always probably recommend the "house" wine or ask the server for a recommendation.

 

We would like to travel a bit, hopefully to Australia and Europe (separate trips), but it is expensive and many years in the future, so this year we will drive to Colorado and camp with my family.

 

We highly value learning, and we always want to retain that excitement and curiosity in our children.  We also have 5 children, so that in and of itself is a bigger commitment of resources.  :)  We want our children to be able to support themselves and not rely on anyone else financially, even the girls.  (Just have to say it...  a couple of my sisters didn't get that message growing up even though I was in the same family as them...).
 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JollyGG View Post

I'm middle middle class but I'm actually more worried about my kids learning things they might miss from living a comfortable lifestyle then in wanting them to learn the social niceties of being an upper income earner.

 

I worry that if I pay for my kids college they won't value it as much and work as hard (I payed my own way and am still working on the loans, but I knew the cost and value of what I was paying for each semester as I payed my tuition).

My kids don't see us making a lot of sacrifices to meet our budget and I wonder if they appreciate the value of an economical menu, few extras, ect. and if they ever do need to cut back to make ends meet will they know how to do it having never seen it.

 

I guess I worry more about them learning the value of hard work, how to make frugal decisions, how to live on a budget and those sorts of things.



 

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Old 02-21-2012, 04:11 PM
 
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working class- generally refers to blue collar workers.


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Old 02-21-2012, 04:17 PM
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My son is interested in languages so he takes Mandarin lessons. I'm often looked at like I have two heads when I talk about these things. It's not because I'm sitting in the wrong economic class it's because I'm sitting with people who I have nothing in common with and don't share interests with.
Actually, Mandarin lessons for kids is a pretty hot thing among parents with, yes, high incomes.... it's even trickling down to the middle class. Your son is actually trendy...
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50k a year isn't much, and people making $50k are most certainly poor in some parts of the country.

Okay... so then what do you call the people making 25K a year and living in your city? Those would probably be the ones using daycare with indoor chickens and sharing a bedroom with their kids and perhaps another couple of relatives, just in case you can't picture them.

 
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Old 02-21-2012, 04:28 PM
 
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This is a very interesting thread.  I think I tend to dilude myself into thinking that class doesn't matter anymore.  I guess I am wrong.

 

While I meet OPs "cut-off", the things that I hope to teach DS have nothing to do with income level and the circles he will or may roll in some day.  They are the things that make you successful no matter what life has in store.

 

- a hard work ethic

- respect for others, no matter who they are or what they do

- being thankful for what you have and finding the joy in every day life

- being a good listener and asking thoughtful questions

- have a positive outlook on life

 

Honestly I think if DS has these skills, his life will be "successful" in all the ways that matter, no matter his income bracket or that of those he socializes with.  This is how I was raised, and it was confirmed for me by an experience I had in university.

 

I had a classmate who's family has more money than probably all the posters on this thread combined, without exageration.  We went to school together for 3 years and I had no idea he was wealthy.  He was just "S".  "S" is one of the greatest people I'd ever met.  He was smart, thoughtful, a gentleman, fun to be around.  He worked hard in school, but was always up for a beer at the pub too.  He's one of those people you just instantly like. He is a loving husband to his wife and dad to his kids.  His family is his life.  He wore regular clothes and drove a regular car. I didn't even know about his family's "status" until we ended up working at the same firm together after school, and then only because a co-worker informed me of "who he is". 

 

What I see is that he was raised with the values that I listed above and I know that he will earn his success and not have it handed to him on a silver platter even though his parents could have ensured he would never have to work.  He just wasn't raised that way.  And "S" would have been successful with those skills even without his great advantage of having parents who could help him start out without debt, etc. 


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Old 02-21-2012, 04:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post



50k a year isn't much, and people making $50k are most certainly poor in some parts of the country. I make $48k/year, and my ds and I would not make it if it weren't for child support. Literally. We could not make it. Not in my city. My rent is $1500/mo (which considering ALL of my utilities are included, I have a washer and dryer and dishwasher in the unit, most places you have to use coin operated laundry, I have a GREAT deal on a sweet place). Daycare? $1400/mo. and its the cheapest option that doesn't have chickens running around in the kitchen (yes, literally, I looked).

 

 

I live in Los Angeles, CA and I have about $10,000 a year coming in for my daughter and I.  Me and just about everyone I know could do pretty darn ok on $50k a year...especially compared to how we are living now.  50k might not be much by American standards (I have no idea really)...but I don't consider it even close to "poor".

 

 

(I realize this isn't the point to the thread, and sorry for that.  I just couldn't help but say something).


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Old 02-21-2012, 05:02 PM
 
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Realistically, though, it is much easier if you are dealing with the same currency as your buyers. Playing the naif only works if you're young and cute. Of course being a good sales person is important. And part of that is being on the same playing field, being able to talk about things your buyer understands and is interested in. I think you'll agree with that. 



I don't think that's true at all. Sales ability, ime, has very little to do with one's playing field. I've seen salespeople with blue collar backgrounds who could sell anything to anyone. I've seen "upper crust" people attempt sales to their own class, with laughable results. I'm working class, edging into middle class (my own family background is blue collar, and my own work background is mostly what used to be called "pink collar", although I haven't heard the term in a long time...clerical, mostly...operations and accounting, with some reception thrown into the mix, but dh is solidly middle class, with a white collar/professional background). I have no sales ability whatsoever. My mom, who grew up in a solidly middle-class family (but with pretensions - my maternal grandmother had a fair bit in common with Hyacinth from Keeping Up Appearances), and worked her way back "up" into something approaching upper middle class, has no sales ability. My ex-husband, and his father, whose backgrounds blue collar, alternating with unemployed poverty, could sell anything to anyone.

 

The natural sales people don't need to be on the same playing field, because they're generally very good at managing chit chat, by learning tidbits about whatever they may need to sell to the people they want to sell to. They don't have to learn it on a lifestyle level, or down in the bone, because their innate "sales gift" just doesn't work that way.


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Old 02-21-2012, 05:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Dar View Post

Okay... so then what do you call the people making 25K a year and living in your city? Those would probably be the ones using daycare with indoor chickens and sharing a bedroom with their kids and perhaps another couple of relatives, just in case you can't picture them.


I'm sorry, but I have to defend Super-Single-Mama here because I know exactly what she is talking (she used to live in NYC, where I currently reside) and I can say with confidence that an income of $50k here with a family is really pushing the limits.  I know a little about DC and its environs so I can speak with confidence about that area too.  I don't care if you're homeschooling, growing chickens on your balcony or are television-free, 50K here is BARELY making it.  I know because my brother lived in Queens with four kids and it was a complete struggle on his salary.  Food overall is cheaper (in my experience) but rents and cost of housing are insane.

 

FYI:  DH and I make a salary that qualifies us for the so-called 25% in this country (in terms of averages), yet, we live in a one bedroom apartment because (a) we have other priorities for the way we spend our money; and (b) it is the norm here in the city to live in close quarters.  I have a neighbor (family of six) next door who lives in a two-bedroom apartment.  No big deal.  Everyone here does this sort of thing.  Bedrooms, thus, aren't a good marker.  I think it is easy to speak in terms of McMansions from a suburban point of view, but that discounts the millions of people of don't live in suburbia.  

 

People making half of $50k in my town (with a family) ARE probably counting on other resources for survival:  family living arrangements; pooling of resources; public assistance.  Those with families who don't have these resources are doing without (and I don't mean deciding whether or not to have cable or Game Boy, I mean doing without).  

 

The reason I say this is that I know that Super-Single comes from the same background and demographic (in terms of city life) as myself.  I think it goes to OP's original post and requirement of $100k plus people:  the income is insignificant in terms of riches or upper society where I live.  


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Old 02-21-2012, 05:09 PM
 
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OP - maybe it would help to understand what you are wanting them to be prepared for? For a profession or for social reasons? I guess that's why I'm so confused. Art history is well covered in college. Surely as adults they will mingle with people from many backgrounds and there are so many valuable, esteemed professions that require zero knowledge of a proper table setting. What scenarios are you envisioning? 

 

My ds studied English and philosophy and works in theatre and has many friends from what would be called "old money". He or his friends very rarely spout Beckett or Kant at any dinner table. I work with mostly wealthy people but my profession is also dominated by liberals. So in my circle it is more impressive to know about, say, sustainability practices or small villages in Oaxaca than it is to know wine. I would say as one of the few people at my company coming from a poor family, what I notice I lack most is travel experience. 

 

So as I said, I think a love of art, music, and multiculturalism in the home is the most beneficial. And manners and etiquette. 

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Old 02-21-2012, 05:13 PM
 
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A lot of people seem to be taking this really personally... do you not think that there is a certain body of cultural knowledge that upper and upper-middle class people generally learn while people in other classes often don't? Really, each social class has its own sphere of cultural knowledge, but if you're interested in becoming upper-middle class then it helps to know that cultural currency. Some of it is as simple as knowing how to navigate going to college or grad school, or what to wear to an interview, or how and when to write a thank you letter. Part of it is feeling comfortable at cocktail or dinner parties, and most people feel more comfortable when they know something about the topics being discussed and understand some of the social graces and manners expected (Which fork do you use? What is the 4:20 position? Where should you leave your napkin when you're finished?). No one will hunt you down if you make a faux pas, but it still feels uncomfortable, and I'm not seeing why it's wrong to acknowledge that. Making social connections is important for many careers, whether we like to think it is or not.
A lot of this stuff has more to do with the person than their cultural milieu. DS1 will be comfortable almost anywhere he's dropped and has the social intelligence to navigate unfamiliar situations with grace. He probably learned fewer of the social niceties as he was growing up than I did, and he was certainly in a lower financial bracket. But, he slid into the atmosphere of his high school peers (mostly upper middle class, and many making well into the six figures, and having the asset base that results from making such money for a couple of decades) with little or no effort. I went to the same school, and I never fit in at all. But, I wouldn't have fit into a working class school any better than I did in the one I attended. And, I'll never be comfortable at a cocktail or dinner party, unless I know pretty well everyone there. It has nothing to do with my class.
Of course everyone wants their kids to be good, kind, caring people. That's a given.
Maybe in your world. I don't think it's a given at all. It might be a given on MDC, but it's not a given, in general. Lots of people want their kids to grow up "tough", and if tough means bullying, they're okay with that. To be fair, though, this trancends class issues. When I was younger, I thought it was only teh upper classes that taught their kids to look down on others, but I did eventually realized I just noticed it more, because those were the ones who targeted me.
And it really isn't about money - it's about class, and as another poster said before, they're different things but often related. The U.S. is widely seen as having more class mobility than most other countries but it's still not always easy to change classes, in part because of not having the cultural capital.
In this particular thread, at least, "class" seems to be definted as income level.


 


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Old 02-21-2012, 05:34 PM
 
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Can someone PLEASE tell me what working class is, and why it's so different than what we're talking about here? The  OP didn't specify that only those who are independently wealthy need reply. My dad would have met her qualifications for answering this thread, and like many of you, wouldn't have had much to say about whether the kids should know their wines (he didn't), play cricket or rugby or do crew (none of the above), or speak a foreign language (he doesn't). So he made the income we're talking about, but he had a JOB. He WORKED. We weren't poor, so do we not qualify to be working class? We certainly don't qualify to be wealthy...



The middle class works. "Working class" usually refers to lower income, and mostly blue collar, families. My dad was a furniture mover. I like "working class" better than saying I grew up "lower (or low) class', but I'm okay with that, too, if it clarifies things.


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Old 02-21-2012, 05:54 PM
 
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This is pretty much the American kind of wealth, isn't it?  

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Old 02-21-2012, 06:20 PM
 
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Quote: Originally Posted by Dar Okay... so then what do you call the people making 25K a year and living in your city? Those would probably be the ones using daycare with indoor chickens and sharing a bedroom with their kids and perhaps another couple of relatives, just in case you can't picture them. I'm sorry, but I have to defend Super-Single-Mama here because I know exactly what she is talking (she used to live in NYC, where I currently reside) and I can say with confidence that an income of $50k here with a family is really pushing the limits. I know a little about DC and its environs so I can speak with confidence about that area too. I don't care if you're homeschooling, growing chickens on your balcony or are television-free, 50K here is BARELY making it. I know because my brother lived in Queens with four kids and it was a complete struggle on his salary. Food overall is cheaper (in my experience) but rents and cost of housing are insane. FYI: DH and I make a salary that qualifies us for the so-called 25% in this country (in terms of averages), yet, we live in a one bedroom apartment because (a) we have other priorities for the way we spend our money; and (b) it is the norm here in the city to live in close quarters. I have a neighbor (family of six) next door who lives in a two-bedroom apartment. No big deal. Everyone here does this sort of thing. Bedrooms, thus, aren't a good marker. I think it is easy to speak in terms of McMansions from a suburban point of view, but that discounts the millions of people of don't live in suburbia. People making half of $50k in my town (with a family) ARE probably counting on other resources for survival: family living arrangements; pooling of resources; public assistance. Those with families who don't have these resources are doing without (and I don't mean deciding whether or not to have cable or Game Boy, I mean doing without). The reason I say this is that I know that Super-Single comes from the same background and demographic (in terms of city life) as myself. I think it goes to OP's original post and requirement of $100k plus people: the income is insignificant in terms of riches or upper society where I live.

Thanks for backing me up. We survive, and have some extra - but that is because I have good benefits thru work, and because I get $500/ mo in child support, plus my ex pays for half daycare. If he didn't? Or it wasn't reliable? We'd be living with family, which we did for 3mo while I saved up for an apartment. And DC groceries are about 30% more than NYC groceries - no joke. It's tough. We don't eat out, I take lunch to work every day. We can afford to eat decently in part because DS eats breakfast and lunch at school. And, we live in a 1BR apartment. We share a room. My ds is going to get his own bed for the first time (at my house) in a few weeks. We don't have tons of space, but it helps that we are a family of 2. If I had another child it would be financially devastating.

We are doing OK - ds will not go without. But my income is supplemented by child support, without child support we'd be in BIG trouble, and would be quite dependent on family.

Oh yeah, and that daycare with chickens? It was $900/mo and no food was provided. To send lunches to school with my son, the way groceries are here, would put me at least at $1100/mo. Not only that, they didn't have space. They had a wait list.
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:21 PM
 
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this is so strange... my background is middle class, my friend[s too, and we all can speak at least one other language, been to many restaurants and eat and replicate the cooking at home, can talk about art, books, cinema, have traveled....im from south america, these things are pretty normal. has nothing to do with money. maybe the country i grew up in values culture more than the us exet for the wealthy...but doesn't have to do with money.

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Old 02-21-2012, 07:06 PM
 
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I GREW UP WORKING CLASS. I do know exactly what life looks like in a working class and a middle class family. I'm not making assumptions. Unless my family was wildly different (and we are Southern, which I realize also matters culturally), no one brought up Copernicus or the local Rembrandt exhibit at dinner - not at my house and not at the houses of my friends. We played backyard football, not lacrosse. Short of people who grew up in immigrant households, I don't think that learning a second language is a priority in many working-class households. The reason that I addressed my comments to upper-middle and upper class families specifically was because of a thread here about a year ago. A number of parents said that they don't feed their children things like lobster because they cannot really afford to eat it and don't want to give their children a taste for something out of range. Quite a few people said that thank-you cards were outdated and not something their friends did; also most people agreed that teaching things like how properly to spoon soup and use multiple forks were not useful lessons. Many an MDC-er "lol"ed at the notion of eating at "such fancy places." So, yes, if you're working class and do those things, by all means share, but the general consensus (on a thread that also went pages and pages and pages) was that most people do not need to teach their children such esoteric skills because they would be unlikely to use them.

I'm sure that there are some working-class parents who teach those things to their children, but I'm confident in saying that they aren't the majority - or even a sizable minority. My mother - who was young and single when I was born - insisted that I learn to play golf and tennis because her outsider view was that making important business deals happened after such sporty outings. She pushed very hard (and I listened) for me to take French in high school because she viewed it as a more sophisticated language choice than Spanish. Those lessons, along with a lifelong push for college & grad school and a keen understanding of how professional women should present themselves, were actually pretty odd where I grew up. Other people went to college, of course, but their parents hadn't pushed it the way my mother did. No one played golf (no courses around). People didn't drink wine (strictly a beer and tequila kind of place). They didn't go to art museums. I'm not making up the differences that I can see between my childhood and my adulthood. 

I grew up well under poverty level until I was ten then working class after my mom married, a level I am still at now. I don't know what it is like growing up in the south but the way you grew up and the way I grew up sound very different because I did have a lot of opportunity, we did a lot of enriching things, attended classes and private music lessons, and I was surrounded by the people who saw college as the norm.
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:30 PM
 
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I grew up lower-middle class or working class (I don't know really, I know we were on welfare for a while and money was always tight but I wouldn't have called myself poor) and had many friends in the same income bracket or lower. We played tennis and learned instruments (public school). We went to museums (free days & library passes). I learned 3 foreign languages and most of my friends learned at least 1 besides English (public school). Our parents drank wine (yes, usually cheap, and yes, beer, too, but they would appreciate a good wine). We wrote and received thank you cards. We were expected to use proper manners and always sit up straight. We went to college (on scholarships/financial aid). We could carry on an educated conversation. These things are about interests & ideals, not money. Sure, money helps meet those ideals more easily, but those of us who never make it to the upper middle class aren't all sitting around on our torn-up couches drinking beer and blubbering on about nothing while our uneducated, impolite, never-set-foot-in-a-museum kids are using spoons instead of forks and wiping their dirty hands on their clothes.

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Old 02-21-2012, 07:35 PM
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Thanks for backing me up. We survive, and have some extra - but that is because I have good benefits thru work, and because I get $500/ mo in child support, plus my ex pays for half daycare..

The fact that you see 50K as poor in your city (also where my daughter lives, btw) I think demonstrates one of the problems with this conversation. One in five households in DC live below the federal poverty line - about 20K a year for a family of 4. Last semester, my daughter worked for an after school program with kids from some of those families. That's poor. CrazyCatLady and her daughter are poor.

 
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:46 PM
 
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Statistically speaking, the more money you make and the more education you have, the more likely your child is to go to college, and the more likely he is to go to a selective or highly selective university. I attend one of the top 20 universities in the U.S. as a grad student, and less than 5% of our undergrads even qualify for Pell grants - which families are eligible for if they make up to 50K a year, in some cases, so not really even poor. Going to college - again, especially a selective college, more so than a community of state college - takes know-how and time, and it also takes seeing going to college as an option.... which many families still don't.


I'm guessing the reason the percentage of people that qualify for a Pell grant is low at your school is because people who qualify for a Pell grant probably wouldn't be too interested in a private university that costs over $40,000 a year. There's a pretty low cap on Pell grants. One wouldn't even put a dent in that tuition. 

 

I certainly couldn't have afforded a school like that, but I don't think that's a bad thing.  I went to a community college for two years and then transferred to a highly selective public university, or in your words a "state school," which is routinely ranked as one of the top public universities in the country (think public ivy).  I got a Pell grant and other aid.  It was by far a more sensible decision than if I had tried to go to the highly selective private university down the road that would have cost ten times as much. Private universities are not better or more selective.

 

 


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I live in the city of St. Louis.I know poor people - really poor, not just grad student poor like me. Multigenerationally poor... and generally no, they don't travel internationally, or visit art museums, or speak a foreign language (unless their parents are immigrants). How would they be able to do those things? Those things take time, money, and knowledge, and really, why would they be relevant? Generally they aren't, especially when it's hard enough to ensure that kids are well-fed, clean, safe, doing well in school, etc.

 

I'm truly dumbfounded.  I'll give you the international travel because that takes money, but public museums usually don't require admission, and it doesn't take any special knowledge to appreciate art.  And learning Spanish at least on a conversational level could be done for free and in many parts of the country could prove invaluable.  And sometimes those not in the upper class or upper middle class like to do things just to enrich their lives. 

 

I'm wondering if we substituted race for class if people would still think it acceptable to make these kinds of generalizations. 

 

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As far as manners, there are different manners for different social settings. Do your kids know an oyster fork from a fish fork from a salad fork? Have they ever needed to? Not that I think it's something everyone should go right out and teach their kids - one can always watch someone else, and failing that, outside to inside is a good general rule- but it's an example of manners that generally aren't relevant unless you're of a certain class.

 

Good table manners and basic etiquette are relevant to people outside the upper class. Non-upper class people might actually be invited to functions where knowing a formal place setting or at least how to pass as you mentioned might come in handy.  Or if they're like my very traditional southern MIL, they might actually have this stuff and break it out on special occasions.

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Allright nobody answered my question but here's my 2 cents.

 

I was born into a wealthy family in Switzerland, I attended a public school which I suppose they are entirely different from the ones in the States or here in Australia for that matter, we were wealthy, I grew up multilingual not really because Switzerland is a multilingual country, but because my parents are from different countries ( different languages culture, etc). I was rich growing up really, my mother (Lebanese born in Mexico) also belongs to a wealthy family. I do specify the countries in which I grew up and frequented because being "rich" in a certain place is different from another. 

 

When I moved to Australia, I was not receiving any help from my family, my parents thought it was important from me to do everything on my own,so yes I was poor, or lower class, and yes being lower class, after I had a my DD1 still I was "lower" class, I was a single, young and a working mom. When I was struggling financially my DD was very young but I seriously doubt that I would've given a thought on enrolling my DD on an expensive sport or telling her to learn another language because its classier than the other ( I actually think it's ridiculous), just to fit in with the rest of my family. 

 

Right now, I will say yes we are wealthy, not wealthy as I was growing up or how wealthy my DH was growing up for that matter, but we have more than enough. My husband who is probably the wealthiest person I've known ( well his parents at least) would rather eat a cheeseburger and drink beer ( oh because beer is soo low class) and walk around in jeans and sneakers all the time , oh and he is monolingual aswell. 

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Thanks for backing me up. We survive, and have some extra - but that is because I have good benefits thru work, and because I get $500/ mo in child support, plus my ex pays for half daycare..

The fact that you see 50K as poor in your city (also where my daughter lives, btw) I think demonstrates one of the problems with this conversation. One in five households in DC live below the federal poverty line - about 20K a year for a family of 4. Last semester, my daughter worked for an after school program with kids from some of those families. That's poor. CrazyCatLady and her daughter are poor.

My ds and I are FAR from being middle class. Yes, there are MANY that have much LESS than I do. I realize how fortunate I am that I have this salary (I have a law degree, so I do have some upward mobility as well). I also know that on my salary, my reality is that I would not be able to afford daycare and an apartment. Without my ex's reliable child support, we would be largely dependent on family (meaning we would live with family rent free - not that they would pay for everything). That's MY reality. If you want to come pay my bills, and live in my reality for a year, and then tell me what I'm doing wrong, be my guest.

It is important to note that I'm also in that somewhat awkward income bracket where I do not qualify for any assistance whatsoever, and have to pay nearly the max on any sliding scale fees. Without including child support (since it is not considered income). Again, I realize that there are people with less. I'm just sharing my reality, and if I am so tight (on what you say should be plenty) then I don't know how anyone manages on 10k per year. I don't think it's possible.
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Old 02-21-2012, 08:49 PM
 
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When I was with xh we made between 30,000 and 60,000 a year. It was enough for me to stay home if we lived frugally and would have been a lot more comfy if we did not have debt. Which he did have quite a bit and it took us years to pay off...

We bought an 80,000 dollar house, drove a newer car, of course if I worked daycare would have knocked out what I made since I don't have a degree - so it made little sense for me to work.

In our area- it was considered middle class and we lived in a nice subdivsion... 3 br 1 bath ranch house

I dont know- I know living with less like I do now- is different than when I was with him... now I make way less than half of that- and that is including cs and assistance I get...

but I drive an older paid off car, and don't get to do anything- and anything- I mean drive twenty min to go hiking- is not in the budget.

 


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Interesting twist this conversation has taken.  Everyone has been just about everywhere in life.  These are the kind of people I want my kids to know.  REAL people.  People who understand how to be.  I think I've said this before, but I'm blessed.  I'm blessed because all my hard work is paying off.  I'm blessed because I have what I need.  I'm blessed with a peaceful life.  And when I started making decent money again, I was  and have been blessed by all the people that money has touched.  I know what it's like to struggle and I know what's it's like to have more than I need.  And I refuse to find people less important than how I appear to my peers. 

 

I don't need to fit into with the right crowd and I don't need to follow the "class" rules.  I need to teach my girls to be gracious, kind and responsible.  Not just responsible for themselves but to all around them.  To me that means High Class. 

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Old 02-21-2012, 09:15 PM
 
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Maybe we should discuss (again) what constitutes middle class, upper class, low class, etc. 

 

Of course, there's the whole family size and COL factor.  $50K might be decent for a single person in Ohio, but a family of four in California may be around the poverty level and qualify for assistance.  

 

Clearly, the OP has decided $100k is Upper/upper-middle class for parents.  Not everyone would agree.  Plenty of families on that income aren't worried about making sure their kids know wines and such; whereas, I'm sure there are families making $30k who happen to give their kids the experience of horse back riding lessons or fancy dining etiquette, or whatever.  


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Old 02-21-2012, 10:34 PM
 
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I'm sure there are families making $30k who happen to give their kids the experience of horse back riding lessons


 

Where I live, horse back riding lessons are $50 per lesson per child. Seriously. And they have to have equipment. I don't see how any body making 30K a year could pay for that

 

BUT I do know a teen girl (with a single mom who is a student) who trades for lessons. She spends time mucking out stalls in exchange for lessons. She also attends the same private school my kids do. She's on a scholarship.

 

I think that parents with tight incomes can make very cool things happen for their kids, but it's a lot more work for them to make it happen.

 

The more money you have, the easier it is to make the cool things happen.

 

I know a lot of people who make over 100K, and I only know 1 wine snob. She isn't employed and her DH doesn't earn nearly the kind of money that some of the people I know do. (her youngest child is 17 and she doesn't volunteer at school, so I don't think she counts as a SAHM any more. Realistically, at some point, it's not about spending time with your kids anymore.)

 

It's sort of odd -- in my circle, the more money and real accomplishments someone has, the less they care about status symbols.

 

 


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Old 02-21-2012, 11:42 PM
 
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OK, maybe the class division isn't so much income level as education level. I teach at an "urban" university. What that means practically is: We get a lot of 1st generation college students. We get a lot of students who are working 2 jobs to be able to pay rent and tuition, because their financial aid (most of it in the form of loans) just doesn't cover their costs. Our students are, by and large, incredibly motivated because many of them have spent years at physically hard jobs or really boring ones.

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I think it is so funny that you think those things are upper class skills. Most of the skills you list are common to all social class. I think what people are offended about is the assumption that lower middle class and poor people don't teach their kids to use manners, write thank you notes, speak another language, go to college, teach them about art, visit museums, travel, etc... I am sure there are some actual differences, but the one I am picking up on is that upper middle class and upper class people make a lot of inaccurate assumptions about other classes. Not that it is all sunshine and roses down on the other end but some of the assumptions are insulting, especially the college one.

 

People who didn't go to college do value college, for the most part. They do teach manners, etc. But first generation college students are at a much higher risk for failing or dropping out (yes, I have numbers to back this up). Why? Because they don't have anyone to help them navigate the system. I had one very earnest undergraduate in my office a couple of years ago. He was going to school, working night shift, living in a 2 bedroom apartment with his wife, 2 kids, and his parents (who were unemployed). He was failing my course because he didn't know how to write the kind of paper I was requesting. I basically cornered him and dragged him to my office because I didn't want to see him fail. He was in his last year of college and this was the first time he'd ever been in a professor's office! He'd failed a number of courses, not because he was dumb, but because he didn't understand that it was OK to go to someone's office and say "Help, I really don't understand this assignment." I need to teach that lesson to 2-3 students every single quarter I teach. And some of them don't believe me. And, alas, many of them don't come in until it's hopeless (if you've failed the first 6 assignments, it's too late. If you come in after the 1st one, we can work on it.)

 

Now, some students pick this up how to navigate the system on their own. But it's a lot easier with someone who knows the system to help you. When my brother (son of two teachers, one a Ph.D.) needed to get into an algebra course that was a prerequisite for the degree he wanted, he knew enough to contact the professor when he didn't get in, go to class on the first day and keep hanging around until enough people dropped that he could get in. He then knew how to petition to add the course after the registration period had closed. I've had students who have tried to register for a required 3 quarters in a row, but couldn't get in. They couldn't get in because they registered late because they had a financial hold on their records. Because they couldn't pay their bill (because their families couldn't help) and because they didn't know enough to contact me early on in the registration process, they graduated late.

 

The problem isn't that these students don't value education -- they don't know that there's a whole set of unwritten rules about how to get into classes that are full. Thus, they're at a disadvantage. They can't ask the right questions because they don't realize that there is another possibility. THAT is cultural capital. We have, in our department, started teaching some of these things overtly to both our undergraduates and our graduate students. Why? Because a majority of us believe it's unfair to students who come in without that cultural capital not to have the rules spelled out for them. Teaching them overtly levels the playing field. A couple of my colleagues don't agree however. Their opinion is "I figured it out on my own, why can't they?" (Interestingly enough, they come from more high income/highly educated families.)
 

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Originally Posted by mambera View Post


Good Lord.  Thanks for saving me the Google.  I do meet the 'income requirement' for this thread eyesroll.gif and all that sprung to mind on this one was marijuana.

 


OK -- so here's a type of cultural knowledge that I missed completely because I'm an nerdy academic who just didn't care to party. And my parents were no help either. I know very little slang related to marijuana or other drugs. I just don't. And I really don't care to learn. Just like I really don't care enough about wine to learn. But, it does leave me out of a whole bunch of conversations!

 

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I'm truly dumbfounded.  I'll give you the international travel because that takes money, but public museums usually don't require admission, and it doesn't take any special knowledge to appreciate art.  And learning Spanish at least on a conversational level could be done for free and in many parts of the country could prove invaluable.  And sometimes those not in the upper class or upper middle class like to do things just to enrich their lives.


True, but if no one in your family has ever done them, if no one in your community knows about these things, how are you going to learn? You certainly aren't going to get this knowledge in the public schools any more because art, music and that sort of thing has been completely cut from most budgets, especially in really poor districts. In addition, at least where I live, public museums do charge admission -- up to $8 per person. There are free nights and there are passes you can get from the library. But, again, you have to know this, and you have to know how to navigate the public library system to reserve these (it's not easy). Even then, you're still going to need to have the time to take the bus to the museum (plus money for the bus fair for you and your kids).

 

My kids go to a school with 80% free and reduced lunch. We have a lot of parents who would love to help out at school, but they can't because they work odd shift hours or they can't get transportation to the school. It's that kind of life circumstance that prevents people from taking advantage of opportunities. You need to know the opportunities exist, have the time to take advantage of them, and the means to take advantage of them. I have spent a number of years beating my head against a wall with the middle class parents in our school because they keep saying things like "those parents just don't care". They do care, but the system is not set up for them, they don't know how to navigate it (many are immigrants), and even if they do, few have the time or resources to do so. And the few who do try are often put off because they don't know the unwritten rules.

 


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Old 02-21-2012, 11:46 PM
 
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VisionaryMom: Personally, I think if your kids have good manners, the ability to converse on a range of subjects (sports being a good one), strong self-confidence, the ability to observe carefully what others are doing around them, and the willingness to ask questions to learn, they'll have what they need. You can't teach them all they need to know -- not because you grew up working class but because you can't predict what they're going to need to know in the future. What they will need to know really depends not only on class/income, but also on where you live, and who your associates are. My in-depth knowledge of sports that I got from my family of origin is pretty worthless in academic circles. But if I were in business, it'd be a boon.

 

Thus, if they know how to learn, observe and ask, doing all of these things politely, they'll most likely learn to get along, no matter where they end up.

 

 


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Old 02-22-2012, 12:36 AM
 
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This is a very interesting thread. Thanks to the OP for asking the question. Not sure why people are getting angry as we all have valid experiences to share--except that I think that "class" in terms of financial capital and "class" in terms of education/cultural capital seem to be easily confused. "Lower class" is not necessarily an insult (although it can be depending on context), just a description of where one might be in our income-stratified society. I also agree with the idea that part of this whole question has to do with moving between subcultures, and that moving "down" can be as socially unsettling as moving up. 

 

I started out economically poor, but with some cultural capital. We always had enough to eat, but clothes were all hand-me-downs and I got free lunches at school. I went to a top college and I did have some playing catchup to do, particularly in terms of understanding my post-college options and the impact my undergraduate career would have. There have been some social norms that I have gained a better understanding of since growing up.

 

Now, in a much better place financially, I also understand what a frugal childhood taught me, and I hope to somehow pass those lessons on to my children. I think they will grow up feeling much less financially precarious than I did, much more comfortable being around people who are used to financial security. I still feel a little out of place sometimes, mostly because of an assumption of comfort that other people seem to have. And of course I want my kids to feel comfortable...but I also want them to not be overly entitled. It is difficult (impossible?) to find a balance between providing them with security and having them understand exactly how fortunate they are. I'm not sure they can fully understand their good fortune without experiencing the opposite. I have been asking sort of the opposite question from the OP: how can I get them to understand what it's like to not have enough or just barely?

 

Here's my response to the OP's question:

 

I think that certain broad skills will help your kids more than specific knowledge about wine, etc. Broad skills will help them "know what they don't know" and know how to find the answers.  

 

-They should be avid readers, because that will expose them to all kinds of worlds and ways of thinking beyond their immediate surroundings. They will absorb all kinds of vocabulary that would be helpful for say, reading restaurant menus.

-They should take a good survey course in the humanities at least once in high school and once in college.

-They should understand scientific principles enough to talk to a scientist at a comfortable layperson level. 

-Make sure they take at least one foreign language and gain proficiency in it as much as possible. 

-They should be informed about current events, from multiple sources.

-They should know that part of being polite is being genuinely interested in other people. 

-They should know basic etiquette rules without being overly formal. Know when to be formal/informal. 

-Spelling. Seriously, the written communication will get you every time, particularly misspelling words that sound the same but have different meanings (e.g. "piqued" and "peeked.")

-Have the self respect to know that as long as they are gracious, polite, etc., if someone treats them snobbily it reflects on the other person not on them. 

-Learn a musical instrument. We didn't have the cash for this when I grew up and I still regret it. 

-General understanding of what makes something high quality, whether it is clothing or food or whatever. Even if you can't afford it it is still nice to know.

-Travel and get out of their comfort zones. 

-Wine--Just drink some and find out what you like!  :)  Then order with confidence. 

 

 

 

 

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Old 02-22-2012, 12:59 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post

Maybe we should discuss (again) what constitutes middle class, upper class, low class, etc. 

 

Of course, there's the whole family size and COL factor.  $50K might be decent for a single person in Ohio, but a family of four in California may be around the poverty level and qualify for assistance.  

 

Clearly, the OP has decided $100k is Upper/upper-middle class for parents.  Not everyone would agree.  Plenty of families on that income aren't worried about making sure their kids know wines and such; whereas, I'm sure there are families making $30k who happen to give their kids the experience of horse back riding lessons or fancy dining etiquette, or whatever.  



I have no idea where to draw the lines, but I read not long ago that median household income for my municipality is $88K. That doesn't suggest to me that $100K would be considered to be a very high income.


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Old 02-22-2012, 04:36 AM
 
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True, but if no one in your family has ever done them, if no one in your community knows about these things, how are you going to learn? You certainly aren't going to get this knowledge in the public schools any more because art, music and that sort of thing has been completely cut from most budgets, especially in really poor districts. In addition, at least where I live, public museums do charge admission -- up to $8 per person. There are free nights and there are passes you can get from the library. But, again, you have to know this, and you have to know how to navigate the public library system to reserve these (it's not easy). Even then, you're still going to need to have the time to take the bus to the museum (plus money for the bus fair for you and your kids).


We could talk all day about how life can be a struggle financially and otherwise for the poor and the effects of generational poverty. But that doesn't erase the suggestion that certain things like art and language have no relevance to the non-grad student kind of poor.

 

Also, where I live, the admission price to the state art museum is a recommended amount but not required. I've seen the same at other public museums.  It's the same at The Met (the art one in case mtiger is still reading) in New York, although I've never pushed it there. I've been plenty of times to the art museum here and donated little to nothing when I didn't have much. Plus I went to museums here all the time as a kid on free public school field trips. I was in New York City recently with my aunt who is very low income, and she got past the "suggested admission" at the American Museum of Natural History. Poor folks can be resourceful.  

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Old 02-22-2012, 04:37 AM
 
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ooos! double post.

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