Sometimes I catch a headline that literally makes me stop and scratch my head in total confusion. Like when you hear about rich celebs getting showered in free stuff, while us middle class folks have to pay for everything at full price plus interest, especially if you have lousy credit, then you pay even more than full price. But this week, Matt Damon restored my faith in humanity a little, when he opened up a bit about just how hard he and his wife, Luciana Barroso, try to give their four daughters — Alexia, 19, Isabella, 11, Gia, 9, and Stella, 7 — some much-needed “perspective”.
Speaking with TODAY, Damon got real honest about a strange-but-true fact about the world we live in: The richer — and more famous — a person is, the less they have to actually pay for stuff. Seriously. And to illuminate that fact, he shared a story that is equal parts infuriating to hear as a person with little means, and also incredible bizarre when you really think about it.
“It was 20 years ago, when Good Will Hunting came out, that people started sending me stuff,” he shared. “I went into Calvin Klein here, a few blocks away. My girlfriend in college bought me a pair of boxer briefs. They were my favorite pair of underwear. I remember thinking, ‘If I ever make it, I’m going to have all boxer briefs.’ They were like $20 for each pair,” Damon told TODAY. “I went to Calvin Klein right after Good Will Hunting came out. I walked in and picked out 10 pairs. I got them in white, in black, and in gray. I had these boxes. It was a moment for me.”
As a mother of three kids who recently lost both my job and my family’s healthcare, let me tell you — I can totally appreciate the value of a dollar. But more than that, I can lament the stress and fear that comes with the territory of trying to impart that appreciation onto your kids. In our home we tend to say, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” This saying has helped us to get through rough times, but also through the basic trials of childhood like fighting over snacks and toys.
For Damon, though, things get tricky when you’re already raising kids in a world filled with privilege. You want them to have so much, and yet, you want them to know what it’s like to do without.
“They don’t need anything, so we send everything on to people who need it,” Damon told TODAY. “When people send stuff to my kids, my kids have everything they need so we pass it right on. This is the life we’re giving them. It’s hard to figure out how to try to give them perspective. It’s a source of tension in the family at times.”
Damon is no stranger to trying to teach his four girls to be humble. Back in 2015, he told ABC News that he goes to great lengths to make sure they grow up aware of their privilege — and willing to give back.
“It is difficult not to see my four daughters in the eyes of the many young girls I’ve met in my travels through poverty stricken communities around the world,” Damon said at the time. “It’s an ongoing education just like it is for me, but I’m bringing them along as best I can. They’ve been born into a lot more privilege than I was and a lot of emotional capital as well. They’ve got a great mom and I like to think a pretty good dad too, and I expect them to do a lot. I expect that kids like that should do a lot, and they will have to if there’s any hope for our world.’”
Raising kids is HARD work, and Damon gets it. How do you raise a kid to be responsible, ethical, moral, and kind, but also fun, free-spirited, and independent? I tend to think there are no real answers on that one, but there are some great role models out there. And Matt Damon is clearly one of them.