Gradations of socioeconomic status

While we were talking to DH’s relative about summercamp and college for his fourth kid he mentioned that he had 7 kids in addition to his 4 and the one grandkid living at home over at his house that day.  He said he usually did most days these days.  The kids make friends with his kids and come over and then you find out that they don’t have any place to go to for Thanksgiving because their parents have abandoned or neglected (and maybe abused) them so you invite them over and suddenly you care for them and can’t kick them out because they have nowhere else to go.

DH’s family runs a gamut of socioeconomic status.  We’re wealthy.  His parents are well-off now, though they weren’t always.  His brother’s family is comfortably middle class, his sister’s is lower to middle middle class.  This relative is on the edge of lower middle class, depending on your definition.  They have food and shelter, but they have unpleasant (medical, car, mortgage, etc.) debt levels at high interest rates and frequently they’re overdrawn and they’ve had cars repossessed and there are often worries about their ability to keep the house, for which they owe more than it is worth.  They have terrible credit and often cannot borrow.  Their life is filled with uncertainty and stress about money.  Stress and bouts with poverty have affected their health as well.  They have aged much faster than we have.

But they’re doing better than DH’s relative’s wife’s family.  There’s no drug problems.  There have only been small problems with the law.  They have a house.

And they’re doing better than these other children from DH’s hometown.  The children are loved and cared for and not at all neglected or abused at home.  And he’s sharing some of that privilege with other kids.

I wish that range of how well people doing started closer to where DH’s relative is (only with less stress and uncertainty) and didn’t have so many people doing so much worse.

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Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Gradations of socioeconomic status”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    Although I grew up the poorest of my circle of friends, there were much poorer kids in my neighborhood who were on welfare. Neglect from substance abuse is what I saw most, including in my own experience. Although when I did jury duty, the sexual abuse I heard about was disturbing and I am thankful I never had to endure that.

    You know my much poorer neighbors often felt bad for me because I didn’t have normal clothes or toys or regular kid stuff and could hear me getting beaten when I was bad. My dad was scary and mean. It was culturally a very different experience being an immigrant kid. I wasn’t allowed to go over someone’s house and eat as it was seen as a charity handout and his child wasn’t a beggar. So I was very isolated. Eventually I got to the point where I’d do it anyway and then get beaten with a belt when I came home. I knew the beating was coming but it didn’t deter my actions. It was worth it to have someone in my life I could call a friend and it was nice to escape my home life as well. If anyone still is wondering if spanking works…it doesn’t.

    I have so much to be grateful for. I think it is super helpful to have role models like yourselves though. It shows people that it is possible to have a different outcome. My friend who I was beaten for was rich but her grandparents were immigrants so I reminded her mom of herself and she very much took me under her wing and taught me a lot about what was possible in life. I owe them a lot.

    My last thought was that credit card debt is slavery for low income people. So many of my very poor neighbors were/are stuck in the slums because of easy credit. Sometimes I wish lines of credit were a little harder to get as they are such a trap for so many.

    • Matthew D Healy Says:

      Least-known awful SCOTUS decision: Marquette National Bank of Minneapolis 1978. So much for States’ Rights. It’s the ruling that eviscerated State Usury Laws, thus enabling Subprime lending and all that followed from it. Also why if you still pay your bills with paper checks so many of them go to places like South Dakota.

  2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    Chiming in on 1st Gen’s thought on CC debt as slavery – I share similar feelings about easy to get and ultimately predatory credit. And I think that’s why a lot of my relatives mistakenly believe that buying a house means you’re rich and have made it. Their credit is so often so bad that just qualifying for a mortgage is a big event. It’s also why I won’t tell my family that we own, and don’t rent. “He has a house!” is often used as the proof of some relative being rich.

    Like you, I wish “doing well” started with far better circumstances than they really do.


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