Advice

On redneck in-laws

Dear Coquette,

I’ve been dating a guy for about two years now.  We’re both 24.

Anyway, I went back home with him a few weeks ago to spend the weekend with his family for the first time. They’re nice people, but I was immediately struck by what I guess you might call class differences. My house is filled with books, instruments, art, etc. I was raised by two Ph.D.-earned university professors. I grew up in an extremely intellectual and pretentious environment.

His parents barely graduated from high school. They hunt for recreation, and their entire house is camouflage-themed and there is taxidermy all over the place. There’s no books anywhere in the whole house.

I love my boyfriend, and I know we’re intellectual equals. For God’s sake, we both went to the same really prestigious university and majored in the same thing. 

The only problem: He and I are really serious, and when I think about having kids with him, I feel great — but then I think about raising our kids with his family environment, whose activities are more geared towards drinking Busch Light in front of the TV than reading Euclid in its original Greek, like my family.

Is it stupid to be worried about my boyfriend’s family and how it might affect the future intellectual stimulation/class of our kids?

Any advice on dating someone who seems to come from a lower caste?

Be blunt. As you usually are.

You do know that ‘pretentious’ is meant to be a pejorative, don’t you? Not that you don’t sound pretentious, because you certainly do. Quite frankly, you sound like an arrogant little twit. That’s fine, I suppose. It’s clearly how you were raised, what with all those Ph.D.s laying around the house in their original Greek.

It’s a shame Euclid never wrote about American socioeconomic stratification, because then you’d realize how tacky it is to refer to your boyfriend’s “lower caste.” We don’t have a caste system, and to imply otherwise is to demonstrate either ignorance or insensitivity to the nature of class structure in this country.

You are not a member of an elite caste. Your boyfriend is not an untouchable. He just comes from a family of bookless, beer-swilling hunters, and you come from a family of pretentious, Ph.D.-earning professors. Aside from its potential as a cheesy sitcom premise, there’s nothing all that remarkable about your circumstances.

You are way too focused on class here. I promise, your kids will not be born with little baby mullets. They will merely have two hilariously different sets of grandparents, and that’s a good thing. The real source of friction over the years will be your arrogance toward the in-laws.

You’ve got to get it out of your head that they are lower than you. Are they less educated? Sure. Are they less sophisticated? Sounds like it. Does that make them somehow beneath you? Hell no. Don’t forget that whatever their faults, they managed to raise a son whose upbringing led him to the same prestigious university as you.

When it comes to your potential in-laws, there are only two questions that you need to ask yourself. Are they good people, and is their son someone with whom you are genuinely compatible? If so, you’ll be fine.

Read “The Coquette” Sundays and Wednesdays in The Daily.

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