Classism amongst kids

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Most nights my daughter and I have a bedtime routine that she crawls into my bed at seven pm. We discuss whatever is on her mind while snuggling and most often watching Chopped on the Food Network.
Last week what was on her mind broke my heart. What she told me shocked me and then had my heart breaking. Two girls in her class were picking on her about living in a trailer. That she was poor and where did she get her clothes anyway. I tried to think and recover at the same time. I told her there are people that are much poorer than we are. I told her we have a house and food and clothes which is more than some people. She said yeah like those homeless people in the parking lots. Then I told her there are some people who live in big houses and more food then they know what to do with. They drive big fancy cars and wear fancy clothes but they are poor. I told her poor doesn’t always just mean money. We have had many discussions that money is not everything and happiness is much more important than money. We discussed that she doesn’t get her clothes anywhere different than most of the other kids in her class. I know for a fact many get their clothes from Target,we do to. We also like to go to Goodwill. I told her going to Goodwill doesn’t mean you are poor. It means you are smart. You know that clothes get outgrown and instead of spending lots of money on clothes you won’t wear long you go to Goodwill. She immediately said her favorite dress comes from Goodwill. Yes, yes it does.
The next morning I still could not get it out of my head. My heart broke for her that she was having to experience this. My husband and I both come from similar backgrounds and this was a huge issue for us growing up. I emailed her teacher. I didn’t tell her I was going to and I was kind of nervous about what her reaction was going to be. He assured me he would address it immediately.
When she got in the car we talked about it and she said she was glad he talked about it. She was happy I emailed him. I didn’t necessarily agree with what was said but I also am taking into consideration that it was filtered down through the mind of a nine and a half year old.
It kills me that this is even still an issue amongst our kids today. Why? WHY can’t we get it through our heads that this kind of thing gets us nowhere. All it does is hurt.

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16 responses »

  1. “. . . going to Goodwill doesn’t mean you are poor. It means you are smart.” You can tell your daughter that I agree with you. She is learning as a child what it means to budget and use her resources wisely. That will be a huge advantage to her when she is on her own. It doesn’t seem to matter how much money one has. What matters is whether or not one can manage it.
    (And thrift store shopping doesn’t have to be limited to clothes, or to the poor. Much of my house has been furnished and decorated with second-hand items, even though the federal government would not define our household as poor.)
    I’m sorry that children can be cruel. Your daughter is lucky to have you to help her navigate through the rude comments.

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  2. Heartbreaking, Erin. It is so hard to hear your child has been bullied and decide how to react. I agree with everything you said. And, you know, we also shop at thrift stores, and I think we’re smart, too! I’m sorry your daughter is experiencing this. It warms my hear, though, that the two of you have such a close relationship. How wonderful that she came to you and didn’t just stew on it.

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    • It is and you know I hear the Doctor saying We are better than this. So much better than this. I love that she tells me these little things and I hesitate to interfere because she is nine almost ten and she does have to figure out some of this on her own but also I just want to protect her at the same time.

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  3. It’s so hard on them sometimes when they don’t understand why others have more. A happy family is much more than any “thing” you can buy your kids. You love your daughter so much and give her so much, she really has a rich life.

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  4. I know exactly how you feel. When my son comes home with concerns about bullies, we talk about how he reacted – and if he should do it differently next time. Because there’s always a next time. Hugs!!

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  5. What bugs the heck out of me, reading this, Erin, is how the parents of these kids – for it has to be them from whom they acquire this garbage – are thoughtlessly passing on some stupid prejudices. If they lack the whit to keep such thoughts to themselves then it’s them who should be at school, receiving an education and not their offspring.

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    • This is true to an extent but I have been digging, with the help from some friends, and it has come to my attention it is not likely the parents in this case. When kids are nine and ten and upwards they are exposed to so much and not every parent has such honest and open communication with their children for a myriad of reasons.

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      • I stand corrected, though I do feel at that age parents have most responsibility, which includes for those who might be influencing their children. Perhaps I’m odd fashioned in that thinking…

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      • It is not old fashioned. It should be that way. It just isn’t always. So many “good solid” organizations have a few that cause harm, no one is immune…. priests, girl scouts, even library classes. Where I grew up we had an afterschool place for kids and man the stereotypes and things that were thrown around that place….and it was highly rated and many attended through scholarships. Just another thing to keep on our toes about.

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      • All so true Erin. I was being simplistic, I see that now. I suppose I have seen a few where the parents abdicate responsibility but of course any adult in loco parentis has a responsibility to be mindful.

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  6. Pingback: Seeing the light through Ten Things of Thankful | chronicallysickmanicmother

  7. My friend is a millionaire who likes to go thrifting to reuse things in kindness to the earth. Your conversation with your daughter about happiness does to equal materialistic things was beautiful. I know how you must hurt for your daughter. These things we can see clearly, our nine-year-olds may not be able to.

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  8. We shop at thrift stores, second hand furniture stores and I repurpose all the jars I can because it’s kinder to the environment! I am so very sorry your daughter has faced this, mine has experienced similar tactics recently, but I am deeply thankful she talked to me, as yours talked to you. It’s a very fraught few years with children/tweens trying to figure out who they are, and unfortunately, I think herd mentality rules, which means anyone outside the ‘norm’ in any way is a target.

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  9. This is an absolutely heartwarming article and I so admire you for posting it. Your daughter is so lucky to have you for a mom. When my son was 8 yrs old, we were on a trip and getting ready to go out to dinner and I asked him to change his clothes. He said:”Ma, it’s not what you look like on the outside that is important, it’s how you are on the inside that matters.” A wise soul! He looked just fine in the clothes he was wearing and I just melted. It’s OK to be living lightly on this earth. In fact it is GOOD! You are raising a wonderful family. Thanks for your inspiring post.

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