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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.

JustinBsMum Sat 13-Jul-13 10:57:02

The DCs do eat veg.

Chubfuddler Sat 13-Jul-13 10:59:43

Forma have you actually read the thread? Because you don't seem to have done.

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 11:01:24

Because of where I went to university and the job I used to do I spend much of my late teens making friends and dating middle class people . I always felt like a fish out if water and always felt uneasy. I shouldn't have and I think it reflects on me rather than them.

Life with my husband who shares my background was so easy in comparison . I have noticed that my closest friends tend to be working class with a bit of dosh or who went to uni because I can relate to them. Again that is more about me than them.

I often find MN a bit odd for the same reasons.

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 11:05:32

Should say I spent much of my late teens and early twenties making friends with and dating very middle class people.

FormaLurka Sat 13-Jul-13 11:15:19

Chub - I've read the OP' posts and it is those comments that I am responding to as opposed to other people's IL anecdotes.

The OP has been married for 15 years so mid 30s at least. "Fairly well educated" in her own words. I kind of expect these comments to come from some teenage mum.

Treague Sat 13-Jul-13 11:22:23

Really interesting: I grew up in a working class family and never had any exposure to 'the middle classes' because we lived rurally, everyone was like us, and nobody had ever been near a university.

For many reasons I hated my upbringing, partly because I wanted to do certain things like travel independently or learn the cello, and there was just no way this would have been encouraged or accepted in my family. NB I am talking about my family and my experience, there is no such thing as a single working class experience applicable to all.

So when I left home, went off to university, I just did things I wanted to. I was upset for a while that nobody wanted to know back home, I still feel they think I was enthusing about things in order to rub their faces in it in some unsubtle way: but I just really liked the things I was doing and didn't really identify them with 'aping the middle classes' as such. Oh how wrong I apparently was.

Anyway I have made my life as an adult, and I can do Whatever I Want. But what I notice is that with DH and his family - MC all the way - I can't, actually. If I want to eat my tea in front of the telly once in a while....hmm, no. We were asked once, having cooked lunch for the in-laws, where the excellent pasta came from. The silence when we said 'Sainsburys' spoke volumes. MIL is always talking about 'the right clothes'. The 'rules' are many and various, aren't they? I just do not care, beyond despising them a little for not being able to cope socially with pasta that isn't hand-rolled on a Ligurian virgin's thighs and sold for the price of a small car in some poncy deli where they've seen you coming.

bugsaway Sat 13-Jul-13 11:29:36

FormaLurka are you so unhappy with your own life you have to come here and insult people just for the sake of it? what you are projecting onto here is your own unhappiness since you clearly havent red the thread properly.

Go have a good hard look in the mirror

EstelleGetty Sat 13-Jul-13 11:31:55

No, it isn't about class (fucking Britain and its crazy, archaic rules), it's about manners. It's horrendously bad manners to make someone feel out of place or different because of what kind of cutlery they use, etc.

FWIW, that kind of Hyacinth Bucket insistence on particular behaviour just looks desperately old fashioned and parochial to me. There is no need to have dinner parties if you don't want to, or observe any rules of etiquette which don't feel natural or appropriate to you.

CatsAndTheirPizza Sat 13-Jul-13 11:34:03

It's crazy isn't it - I have always been hugely envious of working class people for not having to jump through the ridiculous hoops that the middle classes set themselves. Staid middle class/private school bla-de-bla here and I find it tedious and to a large extent avoid people who get hung up on doing things the 'right way'. I know the middle class rules and regulations, but I think it speaks volumes that some people cling on to these things with such tenacity. I watch my mother and brother trying so hard and think the joke's on them.

OP, be who you are and let the rest of them play their own games.

bugsaway Sat 13-Jul-13 11:34:18

I think they are just picking on you OP. To say to a grown woman - dont you do it this way? is just mean really. You are a mother and a wife and have been for many years so your 'habits' and lifestyle choices are now well established. Don't let their pettiness get you down. You are better than them. I personally hate that type of snobbery where someone looks down on someone else purely because theyve chosen the wrong piece of cutlery. Who do these types of people think they are? Whatever they think its is not real it just imagined ... we are all equal before GOD. Even if you dont believe in God just strip away all your material items, your house, your car and what do you have left? ... exactly

Treague Sat 13-Jul-13 11:36:21

In DH's family it's paint. God save us, we once used B+Q One-Coat. "Ah." Well, you did ask.

twistyfeet Sat 13-Jul-13 11:36:56

They just sound rude. My inlaws did the bullying thing. When we first met they told me they'd never met anyone from a council estate before (said in that pretend sympathy head tilting way) then spend several years trying to split us up. Expressed shock I'd never been to a restaurant/dinner party/drank champage.
I just thought 'fuck' em'. DH and I are still together 25 years on and he now eats ketchup much to their horror. Ignore the, develop a sense of humour and do things the way that works for your family. You are an adult.
But everynow and then sing 'my old man's a dustman' and bang some spoons together. In public. grin

QuintessentialOldDear Sat 13-Jul-13 11:37:09

Poor op, she has gone from having middles class inlaws, to having ill mannered, poorly brought up, rude bullying pretentious inlaws.

What a Victory! grin

Levantine Sat 13-Jul-13 11:40:45

Blimey, are there really people who think ketchup isn't okay? How bizarre

FormaLurka Sat 13-Jul-13 11:41:43

Treague - a lot of my friends, myself included, work so we eat out and order take out a lot. When we do cook its mostly ready prepared stuff. A lot of the STAHMs prefer to spend their time at the gym or doing lunch with their girlfriends.

My point? Food snobs are in the minority, at least in my MC circle.

Treague Sat 13-Jul-13 11:42:45

However, food snobs are the majority in my DH's family, which is who I was writing about.

Chubfuddler Sat 13-Jul-13 11:43:26

I know lots of really, really posh people and the idea that they wouldn't eat ketchup or would sneer at dried pasta is just ridiculous. But then like all my friends, rich, poor and in the middle, they are kind and polite.

This really isn't a class thing.

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 11:45:44

We tend to do quite middle class things, our stepson is going to spend his summer sailing around the med and another son is the local fencing champion ! grin

However DH and I both see that our children are incredibly lucky to to things that other families see as the norm . I also like to be able to return home and relax with someone who knows and understands where I am from.

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 11:47:53

Tbh we don't eat dried pasta that often and we are as common as they come . However I have a job that gives me the flexibility to go home early and make pasta. I also have a daughter who loves making pasta.

But we would never sneer at someone for eating dried pasta. Dried pasta is also sometimes the superior option tbh.

Treague Sat 13-Jul-13 11:51:58

Yes, it's about being kind and polite more than anything.
Also, reasonable and tolerant.
My family couldn't get that nothing bad will happen because I have a few cello lessons.
DH's family can't get that B+Q paint is still paint, and not every wall needs to be a status symbol that we can talk about to gain social capital.
They are both products of some sort of class brainwashing but the silence and unkindness and intolerance is their own.

twistyfeet Sat 13-Jul-13 11:53:01

My inlaws think ketchup and baked beans are food for guttersnipes like me. All my kids put ketchup on everything. We always had to take a bottle when we stayed with them. Nothing like a bit of red sauce.


TimeofChange Sat 13-Jul-13 11:57:32

I know a 90 year old Irish woman who was from a very poor, very large Catholic family in Limerick.

Her DHs very MC, well off, Anglican, English family made her very, very welcome and treated her with great repect.

She had been very worried about meeting them and becoming part of the family.

All those people had class.

CatsAndTheirPizza Sat 13-Jul-13 11:59:26

My mother has a list of things she considers 'infra dig' and is quite comical sometimes. Silly things like putting the cloth used to clean kitchen sides over the tap is 'cottagey' ... calling a grey horse 'white' ... shock

Chubfuddler Sat 13-Jul-13 12:02:02

Oh dear. It sounds exhausting (and expensive) to care so much about things being " inferadig". We should smile kindly at people like this, they must be very unhappy really.

Treague Sat 13-Jul-13 12:12:00

Surely they're perfectly happy with the 'rightness' of their little corner of the world? And have a list of shibboleths that they can use so they don't get stuck with 'boring people' (TM my MIL).

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