Growing up rich does not sound like such an awful thing right. Imagine growing up with your parents providing you with everything you wanted; tickets to see any artist you want, a BMW for your 16th birthday, tutors and expensive education so that you can always be at the top, living in a luxurious home, getting to go on all of your families expensive vacation trips. This all sounds amazing right? What if I told you that extreme wealth is an extreme burden, especially growing up with it? Before diving into the heart of the topic, I just want to be clear that this is all generally speaking. Obviously, there are incredibly happy and successful people that grew up rich. My argument is that in general, growing up rich is actually a burden in a lot of ways (still has a lot of advantages obviously). Parents with extreme wealth must navigate raising their kids very carefully for the reasons I discuss below. Feel free to criticize and punch holes in my arguments, I would love to learn more perspectives.
Extreme Wealth Leads to Extreme Pressure
You would be surprised to learn, but kids growing up with extreme wealth have more mental health issues than kids with less financial privilege. These wealthy adolescents grow up with the pressure to live up to their parent’s expectations but also the pressure they put on themselves to one day be as successful as their parents. This results in anxiety in wealthy kids to be 20 to 30 percent higher. They are more prone to chronic depression, substance abuse and low-self esteem due to parental pressures.
Coming from an extraordinarily successful family will lead to an internal and external pressure for you to be extraordinarily successful as well. This pressure existing during childhood, important formulating years, results in many mental health issues being developed and in most cases, leading to substance abuse in their teens and then carrying over to adulthood.
Now this is probably the greatest burden for rich kids. For those that aren’t familiar with the term, Merriam Webster defines it as “the unhealthy and unwelcome psychological and social effects of affluence regarded especially as a widespread societal problem such as: a) feelings of guilt, lack of motivation, and social isolation experienced by wealth people b) extreme materialism and consumerism associated with the pursuit of wealth and success and resulting in life of chronic dissatisfaction, debt, overwork, stress and impaired relationships. This term became popularized around 2016 when Ethan Couch,16, drove under the influence of drugs and alcohol and killed 4 people. Couch ended up only getting 10 years of probation and was ordered to do long-term therapy because his lawyer argued he had affluenza and knew no boundaries because his parents did not give him any. Now this is obviously a ridiculous argument, but that is a different blog post.
Ethan Couch is a prime example of a child that grows up with parents that give no boundaries and give their child whatever they want. The results; an unstable teenager with substance abuse problems and no moral compass of right and wrong. The issue with giving your kids everything is that they do not learn anything. They never learn what its like to be denied something and therefore they never develop a sense of wrong and right, instead they develop a strong sense of entitlement. They never develop any work ethic, sense of purpose, or drive to better their lives. High levels of wealth at older ages has been known to make highly motivated people lazy, and so this effect at a young age is exacerbated.
The Importance of Parenting
With everything I have said above, all of this becomes absolute in the hands of good parents. Obviously, not every child that grows up in a wealthy family has trouble with work ethic, substance abuse and lack of a moral compass. There is a lot of research that shows children who grow up in wealthy families end up better educated, happier, more successful in their careers and relationships etc. This makes sense, growing up with more financial stability, better opportunities and parents that are more engaged in your everyday activities will lead to higher success rates in every aspect of your life.
The crux of my argument is that growing up rich, with parents that don’t teach you the value of money, who don’t encourage you to create your own success, who don’t allow you to define what being successful means to you, who don’t educate you on what’s right and wrong is the true burden here. This is not to say that this problem only exists in wealthy families, as it is very much present in families of all income levels. In our present time kids are given everything from instant gratification through social media, everything you could ever want in the palm of your hand, parents of the generation before us insist on flying around our heads making sure nothing ever goes wrong with our lives and that we get whatever we want. But if nothing every goes wrong, does anything every go right.
My final say on this subject is that money is not the predominant issue, it is the parenting that goes on in today’s age. The constant spoon feeding, over parenting and lack of self awareness that is going on is a pandemic by itself. A generation of “man children” is on the horizon if things continue this way. Evidently, this trend exists in all income families, but I would conclude that this style of parenting mixed with wealth is the ultimate peak of this issue.