I grew up in New Jersey. My best friend lived on the rich side of town. I didn’t care that her house was bigger, her driveway longer and that her dad owned most of the real estate on Main Street. The fact that I lived with a family of seven in a house with one bathroom didn’t matter to her either. What mattered was that we were best friends who would go pool-hopping on summer nights, make up dances for the school talent show and talk about our crushes.
I moved to California during high school. My best friend’s father owned the Hotel Del Coronado. For her 16th birthday, her parents threw her a teddy bear party. I gave her a teddy bear puzzle that you tip to make the tiny silver balls fit into little holes. I think it cost $4. Her parents gave her a mink teddy bear.
I didn’t care that my gift wasn’t expensive, and she didn’t either. What we did care about was how much fun we had putting on make up and crazy outfits during sleepovers, or how we would talk for hours about boys and laugh about the disgusting health shakes her Dad made her drink for breakfast.
Now I am a mother. My husband and I have raised our three children in Marin and they have had all that they need – love, a solid education and enough money to live comfortably. They have rich friends whose homes cover entire blocks of Pacific Heights and friends who live in small houses and apartments with only one bathroom. They don’t care. What they do care about are the friendships they have developed, the unique experiences they have shared and the memories they have made.
My advice for how to raise children in a community of wealth? Don’t worry about it. Focus on celebrating your children. Rally behind their interests, encourage them to make friends, and always be there to listen. A little or a lot of money really doesn’t matter – but they do.