Question:

My husband and I both come from very underprivileged backgrounds. Thanks to hard work and some incredible mentors, we were the first in our families to graduate from high school. We attended the same Ivy League university, and now have graduate degrees and amazing jobs in our fields.

While we were students, we worked 30-plus hours a week at food-service jobs just to scrape by.

Our problem is this: While we'd both love to start a family, we're terrified to do so. We're now in a position where we could afford to send our children to private schools, to pay for college, to go on vacations, to do all the things we didn't get to do when we were kids. And while it sounds like a dream to be able to give our children the world on a platter, we're terrified our kids would turn out to be the same kind of entitled brats we so resented when we were students.

Answer: Your hardship was genuine. Any ingrate-preventive hardship system you construct for your kids will be artificial, and kids are born with lasers in their eyeballs that make quick work of facades.

How would you have felt those late nights over a pile of dishes had you known your parents were home resting their heads on fluffy pillows of cash?

There are ways besides material deprivation to raise kids who aren't jerks.

Don't make your kids suffer; just make sense. Talk to your husband about what kind of parents your circumstances allow you to be, good and bad, then shoot for the good. (It'll work wonders on your anti-privilege bias.)

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.