Poor kids, rich kids

I saw a bumper sticker on a Rolls Royce which read ’F@$k the poor’. Initially I thought, liewe hemel, that’s hectic, but then I found myself agreeing with the sentiment wholeheartedly.

My kids have no concept of rich or poor, they just know what they’ve got and what they don’t have. Getting them to do things by telling them that there are starving masses of kids out there is about the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

I remember my grandma telling me to eat my vegetables because there were starving kids in Ethiopia. And at age 5 I distinctly remember thinking ‘WTF, so why don’t you put the food in an envelope and send it to them?’

There will always be poor and there will always be rich, that is the way of the world. I grew up in an impoverished community and sometimes literally had to make do with porridge for supper, or wear old football shoes to school (I thought this was so cool) because my parents couldn’t afford to buy new ones just yet.

But, and here’s the point, I overcame my surroundings like so many of us who come from impoverished backgrounds. I believed - and worked my butt off - to now be in a position to give my kids a comfortable life. Yet there are many, many friends and family still stuck in the mire and poverty. Some of them had better opportunities as kids than I did.

The point is, being poor or rich has got nothing to do with success or failure. Look how many rich celebrity kids are living in a haze of mental hell because they don’t know shit from shinola. Can you imagine the absolute hell Britney was going through during the saga of her kids? And all her millions were scant consolation.

There are many kids who come from poor families, but they are raised to believe in themselves. Their parents continually praise them for their meagre achievements, and call them brilliant when they barely scraped through a maths exam, or something similar. That is their reality and that is all that matters.

Like those kids, I believed I was brilliant, and it was that belief that got me out of the trappings of the Cape Flats.

Telling your kid to be glad they have clothes and food and if they don’t appreciate it they’ll end up poor and homeless is not just stupid, it’s disempowering. It perpetuates the cycle of poverty added with fear.

It’s the rich of mind and heart that will always prosper. I chose to use positive reinforcement and praise to get my kids to understand that they are the absolute best thing since sliced cheese and they deserve the life they have.

Should comfortably off children be made aware of other people’s poverty?

Read more by Marlon Abrahams
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