When Did You Realize Your Family Is Rich?

For some time I’ve been wondering when kids learn that their family is rich. The reason being, a friend H comes from a well-to-do family. Well enough to be considered rich. When I look at the children in his family and think these children are lucky to be born into a privileged family, I also realized they probably don’t know it. After all, this is the only normal they know. That was also the reason for this post.

I recall a Taiwanese friend Y whom I met when I first came to Japan. To me, her family is rich, but she always says her family is not. The reason I thought so was because, when she decided to pursue her studies in Nagoya for at least another four years, her dad felt that it was a waste of money renting homes and went ahead with purchasing an apartment for her—a relatively new one big enough for a family.

When I was helping Y move from the dormitory to her new home, we went to meet her dad’s friend R to borrow his car. R had just built a new 12-story building and was opening a specialist school for foreigners. We were given a tour around the then-still-under-construction school and I was surprised by the magnitude. Y then told me, R is rich but her family is not. After having seen the school and felt the degree of R’s wealth, hearing Y say R is rich made me realize something: rich is relative.

To me, Y’s family is rich, and R is very rich. But to Y, her family isn’t rich while R is. It makes sense since Y grew up in that normal, and her family probably also hangs around with people of similar status. Thus, she never felt her family was particularly rich. However, I strongly believe at some point, people will realize their family isn’t just the average family and started wondering when and how it happens.

Yesterday, H invited me to dinner and movie and I took the opportunity to ask him that question. By the way, I’ve known H for over 10 years now, so I think that is an acceptable question for me to ask.

When Did You Realize Your Family Is Rich?

H laughed and replied, “I still do not think my family is rich. Do you think we are?” I honestly told him I started to think so only some two years ago and told him my rationale for thinking that way (I’m not sharing the reason to protect H’s privacy). He then nodded and told me he realized his family is different than the average family when he went to junior high school. As an elementary school kid, he went to private school and had thought everyone goes to private schools. When he continued to a private junior high school, he met school mates who went to public elementary schools, and while talking with them, H was told, “Oh, your family is wealthy.”

While he didn’t really understand why that guy told him that, he realized for the first time his family wasn’t the “normal” type of well-to-do.


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