Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email

I feel awkward about being "posher" than my family

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 01 April 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,
My mother is from a working-class family, but she went to university, got a good job and married my upper-middle-class father. I had a privileged upbringing, which makes me feel awkward around my mum's family.

My cousins are much closer to each other than to me, partly because they all live in the same town while I live 2 hours away. We get on well enough, but I don't really connect with them because our interests and tastes are so different. They make fun of my "posh" accent, hobbies, etc. I'm sure it's meant as a joke, but actually it really upsets me, although I hide it. I worry that they think I consider myself superior. Now when I'm with them I change my accent and keep quiet about my lifestyle.

Is it unhealthy to feel like you have to be a different person around your family? How can I make them stop teasing me without being whiny? I know that I am very privileged compared to them and so I shouldn't complain, but it is really upsetting me.

Patricia Marie says...

Social class prejudice is still very much in evidence today, although perhaps less openly expressed than it used to be. It is an unfortunate fact that society can make sweeping assumptions about people based solely on their accents. Class differences need to be acknowledged and interpreted without judgement, so that these differences can be enjoyed and appreciated.

There may be an element of jealousy from your cousins, or it could just be that they would love to accept you into the family circle, but that your reluctance to share your life experiences and feelings makes you seem unapproachable. If you could open up to them, you might all start to enjoy each other's company and greatly improve the relationship between you.

One of the most common mistakes we can make when we feel we don't belong, is to try and fit in. You are who you are. No more, no less. Counselling could help you establish what specifically triggers your current feelings, and also increase your self esteem, making it easier for you not to take your cousins' comments to heart.

You are unique, and will hopefully in time realise that your acceptance by others should not be the basis of your happiness. I suggest you put more importance on the relationships you do have that enhance your happiness, rather than considering changing yourself to suit others. Embrace who you are, and you should start to feel more joyful and fulfilled in your life.

We may never escape all judgment and discrimination, but we can learn to value ourselves. Remember, nobody can make you feel bad about yourself unless you allow this.

British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) 01455 883300
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