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i've realised my dparents have an intellectual and class inferiority complex and it has rubbed off on me

(15 Posts)
Howdoeshowdoes Fri 15-Jul-16 17:43:48

Dparents live in a nice, sought - after town in which they have owned a small house for the last 40 years. DM was a nurse and DF was a policeman but both are now retired. They have saved for years and a house has come up for sale (privately marketed to them and one other couple) in the town which they have always wanted. It's a stunning house, exactly the location they want, with all the facilities they need, it's historically significant, which my dad loves, because he has interest in local history, and something they have always coveted as a "dream." I remember even from my childhood my dparents pointing it out to me as their dream house.

Ironically they are now in a position to buy it, and initially they were very excited, but they have become strangely hesitant. DH and I even offered to contribute to soften the blow of the cost, in case it was the amount, but they said they could afford it outright with no problems but they just are not sure anymore. I've thought carefully and listened to them speak about their hesitation and it seems to boil down to the unspoken fact they don't think they are the sort of people who should live in a house of that status/size. Not that they can't handle the size or handle the maintenance, just that they always saw it as a well to do person's house and they obviously do not see themselves that way. They feel they are too working class (they have not said this but I am 95% sure this is what is going on)

Despite having the resources to buy it, having no emotional attachment to their current house of 40 years and this place being their dream home, they seem somehow intimidated or that it is wrong somehow for them to buy and live in a house like this.

What has made matters worse is that an ambitious, "well-to-do" couple in the town who are social acquaintances of my parents and privy to the private sale, have also made their wishes known that they would like to buy this house but have privately told my parents and the sellers they cannot afford it at the moment. And they are currently buying time to raise the funds and trying to get my parents to hold off on making an offer. Meanwhile they seem to recognise and be playing on my dparents' feelings of being subordinate to others or not deserving of this being their home by telling my dparents how connected they are to the history of the place, how their family and family history is more suited to what the house offers. Mr Well To Do has a collection of first edition books and antiques, for example, and has commented that the main reception room would be perfect to house them. Then peered rather patronisingly at my ddad's shelves and commented that he would not have much to add to the library there, would he, and what a waste it would be. Mrs Well-to-do went as far as saying she has done philanthropic work her entire life without a proper job (this is also the reason they give for not being able to buy the house right now) and surely my dparents can see that the dinners and fundraisers she could hold in a house like that would be returning it to the way it was meant to be used rather than "just joe bloggs' house." Almost trying to influence my parents that by not presenting competition for the house, that they can somehow bask in the reflective glory of Mrs Well To Do's charity work and connections too.

From stories my parents have told me, they are also name dropping and bamboozling them with references to aspects of the house and land that my parents don't know about or don't know the meaning of. Things like special techniques essential for landscaping the garden, smallholding, organic farming, listed building consents and horse dressage references (there is a delapidated stables on the land.) My dmum is also now saying she thinks the things they will do to the garden and interior will be in greater taste than she'll ever be capable of, and so on. This is after initially being thrilled and excited at the prospect of decorating it and planting the garden.

It's like they have been treated to an onslaught of intellectual and class snobbery to remind them of their place and to stop them buying the house. And even worse my parents are susceptible to this and seem to accept this on some level, which makes me very sad. There have been a series of coffees and drinks at each other's houses arranged by Mr and Mrs Well To Do where my parents have come away downcast and not wanting to buy the house anymore but not really understanding or being able to articulate why.

This whole debacle got me thinking and I realised that to some extent I have also inherited this trait - or rather been conditioned to feel this way. There are so many jobs and opportunities and people I have unconsciously moved away from because I simply do not feel that I am the 'sort of person' who would or should have these things. That they are not for "people like me," despite having the smarts, the resources, the experience, or the offers themselves. These have not been conscious decisions, but like my dparents, I've allowed myself to be talked out of something or affected by a vague self-doubt which I have mistaken for not actually wanting these things, which has meant I sabotage opportunities for myself. It's just now I see it playing out so obviously with my parents in this situation that I can see that I do it too.

I don't want to feel like this anymore and I do not want my dparents to feel like this. Do you think this is common for people who would consider themselves "working class?" Is it possible to change?

MadisonMontgomery Fri 15-Jul-16 17:47:29

I don't really know the answer to your question - but the other couple sound foul and I hope they don't get the house!

Backintheday2016 Fri 15-Jul-16 17:49:36

Well it's all relative isn't it? Compared to my parents (left school at 14, manual workers) yours are very middle class. Your parents did professional jobs with decent earnings and now have savings. I can't really see why they feel inferior tbh.

MadisonMontgomery Fri 15-Jul-16 17:51:32

I would just keep saying that it isn't your parents fault the other couple are too poor to afford the house - and how on earth will they manage to maintain it if they are struggling to get the money together to buy it.

Howdoeshowdoes Fri 15-Jul-16 17:55:06

This is not a competition of who is more working class because whatever working class is, is relative like you say. My parents also started the same way as yours and they seem to still perceive themselves like that - IE they do not see themselves as middle class, and automatically perceive those they consider middle class to be superior to them, which is a viewpoint I find very sad.

IWillTalkToYouLater Fri 15-Jul-16 17:56:07

I get it op, but I don't the answer. I am however, sitting here willing your parents on to buy the house and cut contact with this other couple, possibly after winding them up a bit about all the ghastly plans they have for decorating and furnishing it. wink

princessmi12 Fri 15-Jul-16 18:07:43

Completely agree with PP

Wolpertinger Fri 15-Jul-16 18:13:49

Mr and Mrs Well-to-do sound utterly vile and I would also like to add my voice to those wishing your parents to buy this house. I will put a tenner into the fund grin

You are right in having identified that some elements of class are to do with a state of mind. Yes you can't change how much money you have (barring lottery wins), or what school you went to or what university you did or didn't go to. But there is a certain mindset of turning up with an assumption that 'I deserve to be here' or 'I'm sure I can have a bash at it' that is hard to define but you can see some people -Boris Johnson is the perfect example- have in spades, despite an evident lack of talent or hardwork.

I really hope your parents do buy the house but also can be persuaded that Mr and Mrs Well-to-do are not their friends, very far from it. All they are bringing is identikit money/dressage/bla-bla-bla when your parents are bringing local history knowledge and a personal dream.

On the other hand if it is a Listed Building I feel duty bound as a Listed Building owner to warn your parents it will be a fucking nightmare

achildsjoy Fri 15-Jul-16 18:21:54

Please persuade them to buy the house!

ScrambledSmegs Fri 15-Jul-16 18:34:17

I can totally relate to how your parents feel actually - we bought a house that feels like it has a higher social status than we do and we did feel a bit odd about it for a while. Even now I do cringe slightly at the fact that it has a name as it's so old.

But - it's our home. It was built to be a home, and has been a home for a long time. Your parents are a far better fit for that house because it's their dream home, and not just the right 'fit' for fundraisers and displaying antiques.

Btw ours is grade II listed and it's not a nightmare. Can I ask what makes them a nightmare?

Wolpertinger Fri 15-Jul-16 18:48:57

Mine's Grade II listed - depends if you want to have work done and how much. And in what state of repair it was when you bought it.

I love mine but it's often love/hate grin for example when listed building permission takes months, endless emails to planning officers, everything more expensive because of course it has to be lime plaster everywhere not cement plaster, finding someone who does lime plaster and so on and so forth. Love it, wouldn't buy another one.

KickAssAngel Fri 15-Jul-16 19:19:09

I get what you mean OP and I think it's a generational thing. Nowadays there's an expectation of social mobility, but it used to be expected/accepted that people would 'know their place' and keep to their own social spheres. Comments about social climbers, gold diggers etc. abound even now. Think about how Kate Middleton's family have been written about to see and extreme example.

Any chance you can have your own coffee/drink time with your parents and have a laugh at Mr & Mrs Not So Well To Do and their out of date notion that some people are better than others? Get your parents talking about where their things could go, what plants they'd put in the garden, and say how great it sounds? Try to give them some of that confidence? Point out that their money is just as good as the money that the other people DO NOT have. Also - point out that if the other couple keep stalling, the house is likely to go to the open market and your parents will see it go to anybody, even a developer who might completely ruin it. It's your parents' duty to buy that house and make it their much loved home. Even tell them how much happier you'll be to visit them there, take grand-kids there etc.

Toocold Fri 15-Jul-16 19:24:50

Could you convince them that as a nurse and police officer they have contributed so much more to society than the other couple and therefore deserve the house so much more and as someone up thread said how would The Well to do's afford the upkeep if they can't afford the house? My mum is like this, thinks others are more important, it drives me nuts!

Somerville Fri 15-Jul-16 19:29:50

The 'developer ruining it' line is a good one.

Can you get an invite to a social occasion where the other couple will also be in attendance? Afterwards you could say something to your parents like 'they're clearly insecure that you have larger financial resources than they do, and keep making digs at you about their greater taste/knowledge to try to make themselves feel better. How sad for them.'

I would also highlight to them that a house like that does take time and love and resources, and if the other couple scrape the money together they won't be able to look after it as it should be looked after.

If you become 100% sure that your parents want it but think they don't deserve it, you could try working on them individually. Them both feeling an insecurity probably makes them feed off each other and amplifies it all.
Also (and this is a low blow), highlight the advantages for the next generations. 'Think of the family Christmasses you could host there!'
'The grandchildren would adore visiting and playing in those gardens - would you consider converting the stables into a play house?'
That kind of thing. grin

BMacklin Fri 15-Jul-16 19:37:17

What KickAssAngel said sounds sensible.

I understand and have felt similar myself. It's heartbreaking to feel like this over something so intangible. I really hope you can persuade them to follow their hearts and buy their dream house -maybe show them this post and the words of encouragement here from others may help? They will likely regret it otherwise.

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