Old Money: In Their Own Words – Part 3

An Old Money Gal shares some of the memories and rules of behavior she grew up with.

  1. You do not praise yourself. Ever. If you are good, “everyone” knows. (It’s a small world.) If you are not, it’s embarrassing. Do not draw attention to yourself. You are there as a resource, and if people need you, they will ask.
  2. You do serve the community. At least in my family, there was a deep concept of leadership. You establish your leadership role in the community usually by being a professional (doctor, attorney, academic, and POSSIBLY businessperson, though that was gauche) or if not working, by establishing non-profits and serving in the community directly. In my family, it was thought leadership. My father did groundbreaking work in the rights of children as a psychoanalyst, and my mother was a feminist artist. By the time I was 8 I was experiencing solidarity with the downtrodden (the teacher hated boys). Really, being protective was so deeply ingrained as to feel instinctive.
  3. There are high expectations of success. As my mother used to say when I whined, “Oh, you’re so deprived!” My father used to say “Who told you life would be fair?” I really don’t recall anyone so much as asking if I had homework. The expectation was that I would do what needed to be done, get A’s, and attention only went to the exceptional.
  4. Social expectations of privacy. You do not take more than your own space; you do not intrude on others. This covers all areas of aesthetics.
  5. Money is never a factor in parenting decisions; character development is. You study what you study because it’s important, or you enjoy it. You do not study it because you’re going to make a living at it. You study music and art because you are developing a sense of aesthetic, not because it makes you smarter or perform better on tests.
  6. Also since money is never a factor in decisions, you manage risk tightly: you have all the insurance you could possibly want or need, even if it’s stupidly priced. You choose the best schools. 

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