Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

Class differences/blended families

(28 Posts)
Flaxseed Tue 30-May-17 14:47:50

I hope this is the right place to get views on my dilemma.
Me and my partner are in our 50's and met a couple of years ago. We don't live together.

Both have children of varying ages (late teens to adulthood)
Partner is the nicest person I have ever met and we get on very, very well.
He is down to earth, non judgemental and successful.
I have never met his ex wife (mother of his children) but know she and her family are very well off.
Their children were privately educated and have never wanted for anything. They had/have everything. Horses, cars, a big house with no neighbours, holidays all over the world, speak very well, never had to earn anything for themselves and are now both at prestigious university's.
I have met them and I like them, but feel intimidated by them. Not because they do anything to make me feel intimidated, but just because I never feel 'good enough'

The issue is - the children have never met. And if I'm honest, I don't really want them to but accept that they will have to one day.
I just do not see what on earth they would have in common! They live in totally different worlds.

Myself and my children speak in our local accent, mine went to our local comprehensive. Whilst one of mine was accepted at uni, she decided she didn't want a 'lifetime of debt' so did a home based course and now has a good, well respected job.
My other one struggled at school but managed college and now has a job she loves but is not particularly well paid. She is happily pregnant and looking forward to working part time at the same job.

Both of mine have had paid work as soon as they were old enough and worked whilst studying. We've had 'normal' family holidays and did the normal extra curricular activities and school trips but nothing more.
They are crazy fun loving children who are happy with their lot in life. They have both saved hard to secure their own modest properties recently.
My partners children just seem to want to study forever and travel the world which is great for them and their choice of course!

My worries are, that I feel my partners children will look down on mine and mine will just think his are 'snooty'

My partner does a great job of including me in everything and I try not to show how uncomfortable I feel if we are with his children. But it's like they speak a different language when we are with them!

Has anyone else been in this situation?
How did you handle it?
What happened when the two families met?
Look forward to any answers/ opinions
Thank you

rosesarered Tue 30-May-17 15:03:32

Never feel bad about yourself because of lack of money.It is nice to have advantages in life, but not down to your own hard work/luck after all, if you are simply born into it.It neither does you credit or is your fault, none of us have a choice about the circumstances we were born to.
Your partner is obviously not at all snobbish and the adult children don't seem to be either.Be yourself, they seem to like you ( and tbh why worry even if they didn't)
Tell your own children to just be themselves as well, no need for anyone to put on airs and graces, and no need to be ashamed either.
Be open and pleasant with them and there should be no problems.

Norah Tue 30-May-17 15:06:33

Your partner is lovely, there is no reason to believe his children anything other than lovely. You are good enough, he chose you. Find one thing in common, like you do with a friend, and expand to that.

NanaandGrampy Tue 30-May-17 15:12:26

You might just be surprised Flaxseed getting on with someone is more than about their financial status, the way they speak or where they went to school. Its about liking a person for who they are .

You may think they have nothing in common but you might just be surprised. They live in the same world, experience the same issues , money or status doesn't preclude you from that.

Also , they take their lead from their peers, siblings and parents so if you all make the effort to find that common ground the odds are they will too.

Good luck and enjoy your new blended family x

Elrel Tue 30-May-17 15:24:43

Has your partner met your children? Do he and they get on together? I only ask because I think it would help when the children do meet if he already knows your DDs
His children may not be around much anyway as they are already at university. Students often spend their vacations off with groups of friends.
Equally it sounds as if your DDs are busy with jobs, and the coming baby (congratulations!) will take a lot of time and attention of course.
He likes you, as you are. The best person to tell your doubts to is him.I hope it all goes well for you. 💐

Nannarose Tue 30-May-17 16:40:15

Our extended family, for many reasons, encompasses a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, classes, and financial situations. We get on well across those, our only 'hiccup'is around someone whose unpleasantness has nothing to do with money or education (and those 2 don't go together necessarily!)

First of all, I would say 'Don't borrow tomorrow's problems today'
I am hoping you like your partner (!) so it is fairly likely that his kids will be nice. Our privately educated members are outgoing, pleasant, and interested in their family's news & activities, just like most of the rest of us.

I came from a working class background, but in a solid community that taught me that I was better than no-one, and no-one was better than me, so it never occurred to me to feel inferior or superior. If that doesn't come easily to you, just try thinking about it for a bit.

Elrel has a good point, but I'd add (don't want to put identifiers) that 2 of our family who have developed a 'separate friendship' are from very different backgrounds financially, and do very different jobs - one is what I might called 'skilled working class' and the other 'academic professional'.

Also, the onus isn't on you - the baby will provide a focus of attention!

Riverwalk Tue 30-May-17 17:02:35

You need to chill smile (for want of a better phrase)

Carole Middleton is a working class girl who grew up in a Southall council flat - her grandson is destined to be a king!

Azie09 Tue 30-May-17 17:24:18

Flaxseed I can mirror your situation though my husband didn't have children of his own when we got married, his family are much as you describe and I've always felt a bit awkward with them and with the cousins whose lives are quite different to those of my children.

I think I understand the discomfort you are describing and I would suggest not trying to discuss it with your children but swallowing hard and letting them get on with it when they all meet. My experience is that state school education today scores highly on building self confidence and self esteem and young people are better at mixing with all sorts without letting it bother them.

My kids met numbers of private school educated peers at their comprehensive in the 6th form (because the private school ones wanted a state school on their cv for university entrance!!) and they were perfectly capable of seeing the pluses and minuses of a private school education and well endowed life but were also more accepting than I (privately) was!! I think it's us and our own lives that cause us discomfort and young people today are very different. Don't worry about it, it'll probably be fine.

All the best.

Christinefrance Tue 30-May-17 18:59:43

Flaxseed, I agree with Nannarose, don't anticipate problems. The families are well brought up and will get along with each other regardless of circumstance, think the issues are ones perceived by you and not by the families. No need to for preparation, just relax and enjoy.

trisher Tue 30-May-17 19:37:06

My family varies from very rich and posh to poor unemployed and farmworkers. I'm somewhere in the middle. I have noticed that the very successful family members are always relaxed and friendly and mix well with all of us. Sometimes the poorer ones are a bit prickly but they soon relax. I think the worst thing to cope with are people who pretend to be posher than they are. We have a couple like that (SIL) and it is difficult to get on with them. Just be yourself and let your children be, they will probably get along very well. Young people seem to share so much these days no matter what their background.

Deedaa Tue 30-May-17 22:09:35

Flaxseed remember that you have successfully raised a family who may not be jetting round the world, but are doing quite nicely thank you. Your partner obviously likes you just as you are. Try to relax and not over think things. Treat them all as you would like to be treated and hopefully they will do the same.

Flaxseed Tue 30-May-17 23:03:32

Thanks everyone!

I do tend to anticipate problems blush !

My partner has met my children on a lot of occasions and they all get on well. Things have happened in our family that only our nearest and dearest know about, and I managed to pluck up the courage to confide in him as I didn't want any secrets kept from him.
He made it so easy for me and has totally accepted us all for who we are.
I just hope that his children are as non judgemental as he is.

He's the one that pushes for the children to all meet as I don't think he envisages any issues at all!
But I just keep finding excuses hmm

I do think the arrival of DD's baby might be a good time as it will be something to focus on.
And I will try and think of subjects that they might possibly have in common.

Trisher. Thanks - that has definitely helped put it in perspective. You are so right about those people who think they are 'posher than they are'
Someone immediately springs to my mind and I just know my partners children would never act like her.

I don't think I'll be planning a meet anytime soon, but you have all helped me to see that this is not impossible to overcome.

I'll update after (but you may be waiting a while yet wink )
Thanks again

Lilyflower Wed 31-May-17 11:11:12

My mother was extremely poor and worked all her life at quite humble jobs. I went to college, became a teacher and married a journalist and we sent our children to a private prep school and then a state grammar school. Our children mixed with very rich kids when they were little and then a complete variety of school peers from plutocratic to as poor as church mice.

Their really nice manners and accepting outlook have made them able to mix with absolutely anyone. My son speaks like Bertie Wooster but works for a local charity sending books to poor African schools. My daughter is less overtly 'posh' but mixes in her city PR job with professionals and billionaires. They both love their 'mad' Irish grandmother to bits even though she wouldn't know her napkins from her serviettes.

I shouldn't worry too much about your partner's children. They are just people, after all, and if he is nice so are they likely to be.

radicalnan Wed 31-May-17 11:27:07

I was very intimidated by the thought of meeting my dad's partner's grown up children, who has all been to private schools and very wealthy etc.

The daughter looked like Eddie Izzard and had no personality at all and the son was a wimp who had to ring me late at night f or legal advice.......they had none of their mother's charm or humanitarian qualities and were abominable to my dad, when their mother died......so money makes no difference, not schooling, not wealth. Some people are just gits. I'm sure your partner's kids will be lovely and you will all get on well...but if not, tink of me and the Eddie Izzard munter I had to take on board for while.

HeyHo Wed 31-May-17 12:26:06

All excellent responses to the above post. I just want to add one small thing...

I wonder how Kate Middleton's parents feel when they meet HER in laws? Just a thought smile

Elegran Wed 31-May-17 12:42:32

Just remember that however much money they have, they still have to put one leg into their pants at a time. Remember also that there are nice people and nasty people everywhere. As Burns put it "The rank is but the guinea's stamp, the man's the gold, for all that."

If you have met them and found them easy to get on with, then so will your children, and if your children are great people with jobs they love, they will be interesting for the other family to talk with. Stop worrying and enjoy it!

grandtanteJE65 Wed 31-May-17 13:01:19

I gather that all the children are adults, so invite them to meet each other, presumably they can all be trusted to be polite to each other. Whether or not they find they have anything in common with each other doesn't need to bother you. After all, you are not asking them to live together, are you?
If they don't particularly care for each other, invite the two groups separately, or invite those that are able to get on with each other at the same time.
Most of us find it too tiring as we age to have lots of visitors at once, make that your excuse if you and your partner find spitting the family up into small groups best.
There is no need to feel inferior because you went to a comprehensive school. You have clearly worked all your life and made a living, as your children do.

Irenelily Wed 31-May-17 13:34:45

I was a live-out partner to my (now second husband) for many years before we married as I was bringing up my four children on my own and he had two of his three children living with him. His third younger son used to visit. His family were "better off" - but not to the extent of your partner's family, Flaxseed. When they were all in their teens and early adulthood we had very happy joint Christmases in my partner's larger house. My son and his son were quiet friendly and two of my daughters were friendly with one of his. Now however it is different. They last all met at our 15th wedding anniversary and were polite to each other but had drifted well apart. My children are all quite "comfortable" I suppose you would say, but have had to work hard to achieve their standard of living. My husband's children were left a large inheritance by their mother which was from her mother. My children think they have easy lives, do not visit us often enough and do not bother overmuch about their father who is now disabled. My children think they have easy lives! Maybe Flaxseed as your two families pass into adulthood they will rarely meet and like with mine it will not be a problem. Do not feel inhibited by them, your partner chose you - you are a worthy person, be courteous, let your children follow your lead - you can all hold your heads high! smile

Irenelily Wed 31-May-17 13:36:04

Sorry about repeating the "easy lives" bit !!

Flaxseed Wed 31-May-17 14:23:37

Thanks for all the wonderful responses.

All of the children are polite and well mannered. So, whilst they might not ever be close, I know that meeting each other would not be a disaster. Maybe just a bit awkward at first.

I have been thinking about it a lot since posting and whilst I think there will be things my children may feel slightly uncomfortable about, I can actually think of a few (immaterial) things that his children might find rather appealing in my children.

They all lead such busy lives though, I doubt we will be able to get them all together any time soon!

All the children are pleased that me and my partner are happy together so that's one thing they have in common grin!

M0nica Wed 31-May-17 14:29:13

I think this all says more about Flaxseeds estimation of herself and perhaps she needs to address this first.

Providing the children on both sides have grown up to be well mannered and courteous I am sure they can meet and socialise with mutual respect. There is no need for them to become bosom friends.

There are members of my own family with similar backgrounds to mine whom I have little in common with. My father was an army officer, DH's father worked on the assembly line at Luton, both of us have always got on really well with each others extended family. He still has a regional accent.

It is who yo are not what you are that matters.

MargaretX Wed 31-May-17 15:48:54

I think we can count the Middletons out. They started an on-line business and invested thousands in the schooling of their children with one end in mind. To move up the social ladder. It worked but I don't think I would have done it.

I am sure that your partner's children who have such a nice well-mannered congenial father, are lovely people. That's where children get their own values from just as yours are also nice people.
Give the younger generation a chance.

ajanela Wed 31-May-17 17:52:05

I think a barbecue or picnic would be a good way of getting together. Very informal, everyone helping with the food, a few beers and some light wine to get everyone relaxed. Maybe a game of rounders, cricket or similar. If the children are well brought up they will know they have to be friendly and make an effort,

They will then know who is who bur may only meet up occasionally.

willa45 Wed 31-May-17 17:54:59

You have nothing to apologize for or be ashamed of and neither do your children. Why on earth would you (or them) feel and act as if there is?

The children are mature enough on both sides. It would be anybody's guess if they will 'hit if off' be polite or be put off; the same things that hold true for everyone else in the world regardless of socioeconomic status.

So...if and when that reunion happens, I would just let the chips fall where they may and hope for the best. In the meantime, you have a lovely, solid relationship with your partner which is something for both of you to feel very good about. Best of luck with everything else.

stillaliveandkicking Wed 31-May-17 21:41:17

Flaxseed, we all come into this world the same and all go out the same too. No one is any better than anyone else. Rude behaviour is across the board.