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Marrying into a middle class family

(246 Posts)
derbyshire Sat 13-Jul-13 02:43:09

I'm working class, fairly well educated but sometimes find myself adrift with my MC in-laws. Been married for 15 years, 3 children in primary school. I think most people would say I'm a good mother: BF kids, they're all doing well at school, nice children etc. but often feel I'm just aping the middle-class mores around me.
My ILs don't understand why I'm not more chilled about birthday parties/dinner parties etc but I've never admitted to them that I never had a birthday party when I was young. Certainly no such thing as a dinner party - dinner was something you ate at noon and never in somebody elses's house!
I get so stressed about all those things they find "normal". I've never joined in with the forcing kids to eat veg - my fussy kids eat more veg than my mother! She won't cook for her GC as she said she didn't know how to cook that "stuff" (pasta).
I admit I'm ashamed to admit how much my childhood varies from their upbringing - food really is a class issue!
Strangely enough, educationally I probably outrank them - its all the niceties of life where I'm lacking. Think I'm probably considered "weird" but we never had drinks/socialising at home. I think the gap has become more pronounced as the years have gone on........just find myself struggling more as the years have gone on. Suppose it just feels more and more false.

burberryqueen Wed 17-Jul-13 11:33:01

He = 'Darling Husband
Good God no, my charming brother whom I have not actually seen since his society wedding ten years ago.(at which i was made to feel like a total cunt, so that is the upper classes for you)

springytoto Wed 17-Jul-13 11:39:58

At least you know to say whom, Burberry wink

CatsAndTheirPizza Wed 17-Jul-13 12:16:56

I always forget when 'who' becomes 'whom' am ignorant MC. Is it when it is the object in the sentence?

burberryqueen Wed 17-Jul-13 12:19:57

cheers springy wink
not sure cats - i just do it without thinking - isn't it like he/him? or something...

middleagefrumptynumpty Wed 17-Jul-13 12:22:12

Hmm, downunderdolly I am now thinking of philadelphia cheese sarnies on white bread with salt and vinegar crisp layer between.

I take it you are down under. Do the MC's there eat bread and butter with hundreds and thousands on (fairy bread) there?

middleage - ooh new sandwich combination. I confess to putting extra brown vinegar on mine. To answer your question - EVERYONE eats fairy bread here I think. I'm a bit of a convert TBH and a menace at kids party for hoovering it up (having been a bit horrified when first encountered it). Its funny but I think over here - at least as far as I can see - class is a bit more American - boils down to money. Or perhaps there are nuances that I just don't get but seems more straight forward here.

My family in the UK through parental mixture and their siblings/aunts/uncles/cousins run the gamit of doing 'very well' and 'very badly' from where they were borne so I guess go from council estate to country estate extended cousins include someone who got expelled from top boarding school for growing pot in his dorm to posho psycho conman once on Interpol list...so not very pony club at the 'top end' in any case....

Josie1974 Wed 17-Jul-13 12:39:41

What's with all the negativity towards cake forks?!

Who wants cake all over their fingers?!

Generally I agree with the thrust of the thread OP - your in-laws are rude bullies. Work on your self esteem and do things how you want to and hold your head up high.

Some people will always think their way is the right way, class is maybe a red herring. You have to believe in yourself and be true to how you want to bring up your children.

springytoto Wed 17-Jul-13 12:40:40

Borne? Is that another MC word I have to learn? wink

MmeDefarge Wed 17-Jul-13 13:15:57

I have thought long and hard about matters of class and family and I have come to the conclusion that it matters little what rules you follow so long as you DO NOT try to make someone else feel bad about it.

I am from what I consider a middle class family. My husband is from a working class background. No problem for either of us. We both believe in treating people with respect and kindness no matter what they do with their cutlery.

However, my DH's grown up son from his first marriage has spent a lot of time trying to make out that his family is incredibly upper class.

He is constantly making a fuss about forks and commenting on people wearing the wrong sort of tie. He tries to make out his family is landed gentry when they really are not - his mum once had a part-time job in Gap and his step-dad is manager at a local furniture shop. They live in a converted bungalow not a country estate. confused

There's nothing wrong with that background whatsoever just don't try to make out you are something that you are not. He's like a male Hyacinth Bucket.

Can you tell it really winds me up? grin

I've felt much irritation at his repeated one-upmanship at the expense of me and my family and even DH and his family.

Now I've realised that it doesn't matter to me if not-so-DSS wants to go round wearing a tiara and trying to pass himself off as royalty. What is unacceptable is using social mores to put me and my family down.

It's wrong to put someone else down to make yourself feel good. Using class to do that only highlights your own insecurity.

People with true class don't try to put others down. We know it's all about respect.

FrauMoose Wed 17-Jul-13 13:33:47

Something I struggle with is that the education I had and the life I have led since leaving home means that in some ways I come across as more 'posh' than my parents. More cultured? Different tastes? I don't know quite how to name it. (Though I'm quite scruffy and not very materialistic about things that other people care quite a lot about.)

Now it doesn't bother me if I go and see friends who do different things with cutlery or have different names for rooms in their house. But I feel oddly niggled when I go back to my mother's and the same thing happens. It's as if part of me wants to say, 'Oh if you're offering me coffee it ought to be real coffee not supermarket instant.' I never would actually say that, but I do think it. So I think differences among family members are harder to accommodate than ones with other people you know.

MrsFrederickWentworth Wed 17-Jul-13 19:24:58

I think Frau is right.

But now having hungry thoughts about fairy bread, peanut butter sandwiches, banana sandwiches, marmite sandwiches all on white bread, the springy sort that comes from plastic packages. And a Bacon sarnie on brown is awful.

HollaAtMeBaby Thu 18-Jul-13 00:14:26

How To Get On In Society by John Betjeman

Phone for the fish knives, Norman
As cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
And I must have things daintily served.

Are the requisites all in the toilet?
The frills round the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
And switched on the logs in the grate.

It's ever so close in the lounge dear,
But the vestibule's comfy for tea
And Howard is riding on horseback
So do come and take some with me

Now here is a fork for your pastries
And do use the couch for your feet;
I know that I wanted to ask you-
Is trifle sufficient for sweet?

Milk and then just as it comes dear?
I'm afraid the preserve's full of stones;
Beg pardon, I'm soiling the doileys
With afternoon tea-cakes and scones.

HollaAtMeBaby Thu 18-Jul-13 00:18:57

How To Get On In Society by John Betjeman

Phone for the fish knives, Norman
As cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
And I must have things daintily served.

Are the requisites all in the toilet?
The frills round the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
And switched on the logs in the grate.

It's ever so close in the lounge dear,
But the vestibule's comfy for tea
And Howard is riding on horseback
So do come and take some with me

Now here is a fork for your pastries
And do use the couch for your feet;
I know that I wanted to ask you-
Is trifle sufficient for sweet?

Milk and then just as it comes dear?
I'm afraid the preserve's full of stones;
Beg pardon, I'm soiling the doileys
With afternoon tea-cakes and scones.

middleagefrumptynumpty Thu 18-Jul-13 08:39:40

I have had to put up with a lot of nasty stuff as an expat from snobby people. I deliberately didn't send my kids to the British school because of this. What finally put me off was a friend fed back to me that one of her friends said that they found it hard to get along with the WC mums in her class as they had nothing in common and that in the classrooms there are 2 camps. At my school, even though the English are a minority, I've had mums tell me that if we were back home a lot of the kids wouldn't be there as their parents couldn't afford it. One of them recently asked me if I was brought up on a council estate (nothing wrong with that) and if my Dad and siblings had jobs. I stopped meeting with a group of them because one mum answered nearly every comment I made with "that's because you are working class".

I used to get quite upset about this, but then I realised after a while that these people are actually nothing special. I've been to their houses, know where they work and have heard them talk about which Uni they went to. Despite having had a lot more advantages in life, they have actually slumped down the ladder a few notches from their parents rather than climbed up a very long ladder like some of my friends. Sorry if that sounds a bit bitter, but I have had some very bad experiences. I have often felt that if it was my colour that they sneered at, at least I could do something about it, but there is no such thing as classism, yet! I spend a lot of time with my children and am very focused on their education and they are doing really well at school. One of the reasons why I do this is because I'll be damned if anyone is going to look down their nose at my children when they are older.

springytoto Thu 18-Jul-13 09:10:22

wow, your experiences re expat life are shocking middle shock

...but I'm not surprised in one way. imo that stuff is out there across the board, but shrouded iyswim. Perhaps it takes being in a 'foreign' (in more ways than one) environment to bring it out.

apparently the war was good for debunking the class myth. In one way at least - ie they all slogged away together, got to see they were all chaps under the surface, regardless where they came from. All the toffs got the top jobs though, of course hmm

I couldn't agree more with:
I have often felt that if it was my colour that they sneered at, at least I could do something about it, but there is no such thing as classism, yet!

springytoto Thu 18-Jul-13 09:11:58

Great JB pome, hola smile

MrsFrederickWentworth Sat 20-Jul-13 09:51:01

Middle,

my parents refused to socialise only with the expats when we lived abroad precisely because of attitudes like that. They found the expats looked down on the "natives" and were intensely class conscious.

funnyossity Sat 20-Jul-13 10:02:57

Middle they are being so ridiculous when you think about it but hurtful nonetheless. Expat life does seem to throw attitudes into sharp relief: my neices changed to a local school after finding the British School similar to your experiences. As they were leaving one Dad at school gate said "so you can't afford the fees then" which was far from the truth.
They have had a great education in the local language and are now at UK universities.

(As an aside did you see the fuss over the BBC presenter's Teeside accent, BBC boss had said they hadn't expected someone who spoke like that to be clever, or words to that effect!)

funnyossity Sat 20-Jul-13 10:11:29

nieces - (I used to be able to spell!)

Concentrateonthegood Sat 20-Jul-13 18:18:49

Haven't read the entire thread so forgive me if I'm repeating. OP, these things you mention don't matter. Your past has made you the person you are today so rejoice in that and be comfortable with who you are. I don't recognise class in this day and age and I think people are far less judgemental. Either that or I just stopped caring about stuff and don't notice. We all have the choice to live our lives as we please and your kids sound well balanced, happy and confident. What better start could you give them?? I think that's what you should concentrate on. Whether you call dinner tea or not simply has no relevance on your values and your integrity. That's the real measure of class!

alicetrefusis Sat 20-Jul-13 19:25:10

Holla - that pome was ringing in my ears from the first moment I started reading this thread! Love it.

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