DEAR HARRIETTE: My son goes to a private school with some very wealthy people. They don’t generally flaunt their wealth, but around the holidays, it becomes apparent. Most of my son’s friends are traveling to different parts of the world for the end of the year. We, on the other hand, live modestly. My son received a generous scholarship to the school, which is why he can even go there.
I want my son to feel good about himself and his life, but that is hard to do when he can’t help but compare himself to his peers. What can I do to remind my son of the value of his own life and family? -- Family Values
DEAR FAMILY VALUES: Exposing your son to experiences beyond his personal background is smart. You are setting him up to understand that the world is filled with all kinds of people and rungs on the socioeconomic ladder. What you have to be mindful of is ensuring that your son understands that the way that you live is OK, too. Rich people do not have the corner on happiness or good health. Be sure to point that out to your son.
Also have him do public service. In this way, he can observe and support people who may have greater needs than he does. This will help him to see that the spectrum of human experience is vast. The more you expose him to, the better off he will be in assessing his own life.
In terms of what he does on holiday breaks, make sure that you create loving gatherings during the holidays that include family, friends and even those in need. He can talk about that as his friends share their experiences.