Financial abundance is largely lauded as a good thing, especially in today’s celebrity- and financial-guru-worshiping society. More money means more security, more possessions, more opportunities, and more success, right?
On the contrary—recent research reveals that money may, in fact, mean more problems for the offspring of wealthy parents. The research, published in the Journal of Development and Psychopathology, found that young people whose parents earn a combined income of $160,000 per year or more experience twice the standard national rate of depression and anxiety than those from less well-to-do families.
Professor Suniya Luthar of Arizona State University, the psychologist responsible for the studies, has spent the past decade researching this subject. In her work with financially privileged children, she has seen firsthand that they are under enormous amounts of pressure to succeed. Unfortunately, the impact of this pressure triggers a significant amount of psychological distress, leading to depression, anxiety, stress, eating and food issues, substance abuse, and other self-harming behaviors.
The pressures faced by children and adolescents who fall into this household income range primarily revolve around academic achievements and extracurricular activities and accomplishments. After-school activities like sports, music, and the arts are meant to be enjoyable and fun. Exercise and creativity are known to be excellent stress relievers and healthy emotional outlets, and when the pressure to excel carries over into these otherwise relaxed areas of life, it follows that young people struggle to maintain a sense of well-being.
On top of high expectations in school and extracurriculars, many of them also face significant social pressure. Though teachers, coaches, instructors, and peers play a part in influencing these overwhelming demands, researchers believe that the driving force behind all the stress is overbearing parents with unreasonable expectations.
Luthar, who has also studied the psychological effects of growing up in impoverished families, stresses in her report that children and teenagers who grow up in low-income households remain at the highest risk for developing serious mental health conditions. However, her hope in publishing these most recent findings is to encourage parents in affluent families to back off a bit where their children’s achievements are concerned.
- Del Pozo, M. (2013, November 11). ‘Golden press:’ Teenage mental illness soars in wealthy US, UK families. Reuters. Retrieved from http://rt.com/news/rich-uk-children-psychology-545/
- Narain, J. (2013, November 10). Children from privileged families are more likely to develop mental health problems, reveals new study. DailyMail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2497692/Revealed-How-pushy-parents-driving-privileged-children-crime-drug-abuse-relentless-pressure-succeed.html
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