Recognizing privilege and its effects on children

Privilege: rocket vs running

Remember that you are a product of your circumstances and so your children will be too. A lot of the circumstances that shaped you as a person were not by your doing, take for example the school you went to. It was chosen by your parents based on the fee they could afford, the location you lived in and a variety of other factors. Do you see how little control you had in these major decisions about yourself? It’s how the world works.

Certain people are privileged and certain others are not. Being privileged is not something to be ashamed of, in fact, it is a blessing. The schools you attended, the street your house was on, whether you took the bus or were chauffeured, the atmosphere at home, none of it was up to you. A person simply grows up privileged, never realizing the impact it actually has on their life.

Remember that not everybody has a privileged life. Most people trade off on a few things even if they get certain others. Some might live in mansions but are never able to spend time with their parents. Others might live in dark allies but are always showered with their parents’ love. Each factor shapes the adult you eventually become.

If you’re a highly skilled professional that speaks 7 languages and are highly sought after by every large company, do you believe all of that was solely earned by your dedicated work? Do you think that the kid from the alley downtown who lived in the house with the tin roof did not make it to where you are because they did not try as hard as you did?

Do you concede that privilege provides a whole set of opportunities that others are denied? That large university you attended that you didn’t pay for. The night school the other kid attended because he couldn’t afford university charges. All of it made you the man or woman you are today.

Privilege is a huge advantage and it’s also a scale. Each person is dealt a different hand and receives less or more than you did per category some lack love, others lack money, some lack friendship, others lack respect. It’s not an easily quantifiable measure and I suppose it never will be.

I’m finally getting to the point I want to make here. Whether you were born privileged or not, what you did with your advantages or disadvantages contribute to how productive a person you’ve become, if you abused your privileges and partied every night or figured education wasn’t important because you never saw the need for a job (perhaps because you stood to inherit quite a sum) then you’ve quite possibly wasted the advantage you were handed. If you believe you are superior to a person that’s underprivileged solely because you possess more money than them, then you have wasted your privilege. If you were dealt a bad hand and fell into the underprivileged category and chose to resign yourself to the belief that the universe and all the powers in the skies are against you, you’ve done it wrong.

It’s all random chance, the universe cares not who receives an advantage and who does not. It makes your goal easier to attain or more difficult. It never makes the goal impossible to achieve.

Recognizing that your life was easier because you were born privileged is the first step to setting yourself on the path of realization that each person is handed a different deck and that you should do what you can to level the playing field because, for the 100th time, you didn’t achieve everything you did all by yourself.

A few privileged parents sometimes tend to look down on underprivileged people and treat them as though they’re inferior. Keep in mind that your kids watch everything you do and learn from your actions and now your kid also believes that, though he may not have achieved a single thing in his life, he is better than the 10-year-old server that manages to feed his family of five.

So parents, since most of us have lived privileged lives, let’s give ourselves a reality check and notice all those advantages we were automatically handed that so many others missed out on. Let’s not treat anyone that was dealt a worse hand than ours as though they’re less than us because they really are not.

Most importantly we must teach our kids that the privileges they have were not earned but were handed to them and that they must not believe they are superior to another because of their financial standing, race or any circumstantial cause. Remind them that in this world of random chance, they could have been born in the position of the person they’re judging and ask them how they would feel about being looked down on because of factors that are not in their control?

Teach children to be fair to every person they meet and to make the world just a little better by their actions.

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