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Golden Privilege (33.10)

November 6, 2014

The more parenting that I do, the more I am aware of just how goddamned privileged I was as a child and how much that privilege has followed me into adulthood, impacting my daily and long-term decision making.

My privilege causes me to make a number of assumptions every single day.

I assume how others will act in a given situation; I assume which situations are safe and which are unsafe; I assume what and how we as parents will provide for our kids; I assume that I will be able to continue in the manner to which I have become accustomed.

I don't even recognize my assumptions until they contradict someone else's - usually Steve's. That's when we both wrinkle our eyebrows at each other and really work through it together. Which is hard.

Some recent milestones in my household have made me dig up memories of my childhood and reframe them from the perspective of a parent. A lot of this reframing has raised more than a few questions that can be summed up in one giant looming question:

How did my parents do everything they did to provide for 6 kids on a single salary?

I remember one conversation with my mom in my early teens when I made some snide offhanded comment that we were poor. She quickly and firmly set me straight: that we had everything we ever needed or wanted; we were rich.

I probably rolled my eyes in that snotty teen way, assuming she was talking in the spiritual and family-love sense of rich. Which, yes, was definitely true. But it was true in the economic sense as well.

Another aspect of my privilege is that I never even noticed.

Buzzfeed has this interesting quiz on How Privileged Are You (and I'm usually not keen on any of their quizzes), and I can check off most of those boxes that do not have to do with gender:

I have never been discriminated against because of my skin color.
I feel comfortable in the gender I was born as.
I have never skipped a meal to save money.
I've never had a roommate.
I have had a car since I was 16.
I do not have any physical, learning or social disabilities.
I have never considered suicide.
I have never been shamed for my religious beliefs.
I have never lied about my ethnicity, gender, sexuality, economic standing, or religion as self-defense.

I'd like to, on a daily basis, better recognize which of my decisions are coming from a place of privilege. I'm not sure how exactly to go about doing that, but checking my assumptions is the best first step.

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Hi, I'm Valette

I'm a photographer based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I've recently become a wife, a stepmother, and a homeowner. Life is pretty awesome. You can email me anytime. Learn more...

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