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bettering oneself

(237 Posts)
etheltbags1 Mon 05-Jan-15 22:14:57

am I being unreasonable or maybe old fashioned when I say I always want to 'better myself'.
I have brought up this subject on several different threads over the last year or so and it always seems to get some members backs up.

Did none of you find that you were brought up to respect your elders, respect and honour your parents and always be on your best behaviour.

I was brought up to do those things and never discuss money, politics or religion. I was taught to look up to those who had done well for themselves (worked hard and achieved a good status in the community) and to 'pick my friends' because being seen with certain people would not do me any favours etc etc.

I have tried to do these things and having married into a snobbish middle class family whom I hated, apart from my late DH, I sometimes questioned these values, however they rubbed off onto me and I have only recently felt I am equal to the other surviving members.

I find it hard to change now, although I don't judge people on money or jobs, I do find it hard to ignore bad behaviour and language.

In 1968 one of my teachers sorted told us that those of us who had parents who owned their own home, a fridge, car and tv were middle class and the rest of us were lower class. This guy was a labour councillor too. this inflamed my desire to better myself and although I have little in the way of money, I do consider myself to be equal to the middle classes of today. Any comments.

durhamjen Mon 05-Jan-15 22:19:44

I find that quite sad, ethel. We brought our kids up to believe that everyone was important to society. They still think that way and so do I.

Marelli Mon 05-Jan-15 22:25:42

Do you think that the teacher who told you these things actually knew what he was talking about, etheltbags1? Why did you find yourself believing him? confused

thatbags Mon 05-Jan-15 22:26:42

I'm still trying to better myself. It's a long job.

Mishap Mon 05-Jan-15 22:29:08

There are lots of ways to better oneself and the ones that matter are not to do with wealth or status.

jinglbellsfrocks Mon 05-Jan-15 22:33:50

Bags grin

I've given up. hmm

annodomini Mon 05-Jan-15 22:50:16

Brought up never to discuss money, politics or religion. So what on earth did you discuss?

Anya Mon 05-Jan-15 23:00:44

I pick my friends because I like them, I find them interesting, or kind, or talented, or funny or a combination of some or all of these.. I don't care what kind of house they live in, or their earning potential, or their social 'class' or anything of that nature.

janerowena Mon 05-Jan-15 23:01:18

I was taught the same thing, but soon realised at dinner parties that they were going to be very boring if I tried to enforce that rule. You were left with schooling, the price of houses, holidays, food, cinema plays and music, books - but most people still wanted to talk politics at the very least! The idea was to keep things light, happy and entertaining, not to get into rows. I had quite a few friends who stuck to the rules until they had had a glass or three.

But the thing is, times have changed and now unless you are living in the sticks and regularly attending dinners with the landed gentry - and even then they must be over 60 - then all of those rules are out of the window. You are free to be yourself.

Deedaa Mon 05-Jan-15 23:34:23

I realise now that my parents were actually quite laid back and bohemian for their time (although managing to be true blue tories at the same time) I was taught that education was the most important thing. But I was also expected to be my own person and not slavishly follow everyone else. They were happy for me to go to Art School instead of UNiversity and didn't mind when I married a lorry driver grin

ninathenana Mon 05-Jan-15 23:42:12

I think at our age that boat has long sailed !

I lived in a council house until the day I got married, my best friend then and now was brought up in a large detached bungalow. Thank goodness her parents didn't try to influence her to only be friends with what they may have considered "their class"

Tresco Mon 05-Jan-15 23:46:14

I have friends who live on benefits and friends who are millionaires. I really don't care what sort of house someone has, or what sort of possessions they have. I just want friends who are interesting, kind, supportive, fun.
I once was out with my daughter, aged about 12, and her school friend who had a very "posh"granny. My daughter did something at the meal (I think it was to break, not cut, her roll) and the other child child commented that his granny did that and would tell people off if they cut theirs. I told him it was the height of bad manners to criticise a guest's table manners to their face at the table. He was a bit shocked.

Anne58 Tue 06-Jan-15 00:05:31

Oh dear!

I'm sure we can all improve things about ourselves by reading, learning new skills etc, but the phrase to better oneself smacks of the worst kind of the Hyacinth Bucket attitude.

Anne58 Tue 06-Jan-15 00:07:09

Sorry, I forgot to answer the question!

Yes, you are. Hope this helps, but doubt if it will, somehow.

Eloethan Tue 06-Jan-15 00:36:28

I do so agree with tresco's last comment. To me, good manners are about being kind and considerate and not trying to make others feel uncomfortable. I think, in the main, the sort of manners that consist of a set of often fairly pointless "rules" (like knowing which item of cutlery to use or how to hold a wine glass) are of little significance in the great scheme of things.

ethelbags Just because someone has a good job and all the material things that go with it, has the "right" accent and what is commonly thought to be "good taste", it does not necessarily make them an agreeable person or particularly good company - as you seem to have discovered with your in-laws. I realise that some of these notions have been drummed into you from childhood but it seems they have only served to confuse you. On the one hand, it appears you have aspired to "better" yourself but on the other it seems like you have often felt unequal to the task and this has sometimes made you feel inadequate.

Perhaps now is the time to discard some of these unhelpful notions of betterment and just start enjoying your life without worrying about what you have achieved or how you appear to others.

loopylou Tue 06-Jan-15 06:22:19

I was also brought up like that Ethelbags, and disappointed my mother ever since-I have finally (almost) stopped it upsetting me.
I think it is very hard not to worry about how you appear to others when as a child it was drummed in to you at home and, to a lesser degree, at school where we were expected to become 'young ladies'.
Very wise words Eloethan, summed up beautifully - thank you.

vampirequeen Tue 06-Jan-15 07:16:48

I, too, am a disappointment to my mother. She judges female success by who they marry. She planned that I should marry a doctor but I ended up married to a hospital porter.

After my divorce she decided it would be better if I stayed single but I remarried. DH was an area manager...hmm not a doctor but still a manager...but then was laid off and became a cleaner hmm

loopylou Tue 06-Jan-15 07:30:38

My mother's the same, she'd decided I was going to be a doctor, or marry a doctor...... At 61 you'd think I'd have got over being a disappointment sad
When I married told me 'you've made your bed, now lie on it', would never turn to her for support or sympathy.

Leticia Tue 06-Jan-15 07:36:02

I thought from the title that it was going to be about educating yourself and learning new things, having new experiences, travelling etc- all things that I do and can't imagine stopping.
It was disappointing to find out that it wasn't about that at all!
I wasn't brought up like that at all and fondly remember discussions around the dinner table about politics, religion etc when young and having strong opinions. I judge everyone by their merits and respect has to be earned.
It was an interesting OP but completely alien to me.
Perhaps now that you feel equal, Ethelbags, you can relax a bit and just have fun.

soontobe Tue 06-Jan-15 08:10:01

I think that we are all brought up by parents who have a range of ideas for us.
But I think that one of my parents' ideas was that eventually I become my own person, able to stand on my own two feet, and hopefully able to do what I think is best.
In other words, become my own person.

Our lives can never be the same as our parents, even if the parents wanted that to happen. Everyone, by definition, always lives in different times to their parents.

Falconbird Tue 06-Jan-15 08:21:48

When I started Comprehensive School in 1958 the history teacher asked each child what their parents did for a living. I was in a sweat because my dad was unemployed (unusual at the time). Luckily the teacher didn't get round to me. In Cookery the teacher would often say (what sort of homes do you girls come from?) the intake was about half council estate, half privately owned. In French we had to describe our homes and how many rooms it had etc., In English in the first year we had to write about our homes and family.

By the time I was 13 I was beginning to think this was all a bit sus, and they were doing some sort of survey about social class. The good thing was by the time I was 16 (I was a council house kid) I had worked out that the important thing in life was what sort of person you were and not where you lived or what your parents did for a living. smile I also met a wonderful range of children and wouldn't have been educated in any other way.

NfkDumpling Tue 06-Jan-15 08:46:57

i was lucky to be brought up by parents who believed that bettering yourself meant mixing with the right people - ie honest, hard working, generous, open sorts. The wrong people were those who criticised you behind your back, stole and swindled and swore a lot. Money didn't come into it. Consequently I have lovely, genuine, interesting friends from all walks of life, religions and political viewpoints.

Yes, I have strived to better myself as my parents, did by saving enough to buy our own home, get a better position at work. But that was in order to live an easier, more comfortable life. Have more adventures. I'd hate to have had to stick to my Station in Life or struggle to Keep Up With the Jones.

chloe1984 Tue 06-Jan-15 09:14:14

My DH has had a massive issue with self esteem over the years I have tried to get him to see that he is a good man ,husband and Father etc. just recently he has told me that whilst at school in the 50s at a school in inner London (his family was still living in slum clearance after the war) his headmaster told all the children that if they continued to drop their H's and speak with a cockney accent they would never amount to anything in life. He then felt so humiliated by that one remark that he never really attended school properly after that and his formal education finished at around 8/9. He has done well in life, never had a ' profession' but has always worked and provided well for us etc etc but that one remark has never left his mind. He is reticent to speak to people he doesn't know as he feels they will judge him from his accent. I sometimes wonder if that headmaster lived long enough to see the acclaim that Eastenders gets from the viewing public.

Soutra Tue 06-Jan-15 09:40:40

I think phoenix has summed it perfectly! I also feel sad ethel that you have striven for these material goals without recognising your own inherent worth. I believe we want our DC and DGC to have happy and fulfilled lives and education plays a huge part in that, but different talents will guide them in different directions and (to mix threads) if members of the royal family are an example of a "better" type, I'd rather be a worser. Value yourself for who and what you are and leave the likes of Hyacinth to her shallow and frankly laughable pretensions.

KatyK Tue 06-Jan-15 09:42:47

Personally I was dragged up as they say! My DH says I have always have difficulty convincing myself that I am as good as the lowest dog in the street. My parents owned their own house which was unusual in our area in the 50s/60s. This was due to hard work on the part of my mother. It certainly didn't make us feel better than the kids in the council flats - I always wanted to be one of them. The house was let go to rack and ruin due to the fact that my father was alcoholic, violent and abusive. We never felt loved or cared for. That sort of thing sticks and I have been left with the 'never feeling good enough' thing. I suppose I have 'bettered myself' although unintentionally, as I survived the childhood, have always worked, married a decent man and brought up a decent daughter. I have a bit of a thing about people who think they are better than the rest of us because they have money or possessions. So what?