[By Nic Lindh on Tuesday, 22 April 2008]
A practicing psychologist, Madeline Levine wrote The Price of Privilege after noticing an increase in serious problems, such as depression, substance abuse, and cutting, among teenagers from affluent families.
The book’s subtitle, How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids sums it up neatly.
Levine’s basic argument, supported by anecdotes from both her practice and from those of other psychologists, is that the “culture of affluence” and its emphasis on material possessions and perfection, is leading parents into making choices in their child rearing that, while well-meaning, ultimately hurt their children.
These choices include pressuring children into being “perfect” at school and in social occasions—often accomplished by bribery and threats—and by trying to ensure success for children by micromanaging their lives and becoming helicopter parents.
The end result is that these children, while coddled, don’t get the opportunity to develop their inner selves and thus end up “empty.”
It’s pretty bleak reading, but the closing section of the book offers advice on how to avoid the traps and help children grow up to become healthy adults.
The Price of Privilege is one of those unfortunate books that is important and deserves to be read, but probably won’t be by those who need it the most.
Well worth the time and with lots of food for thought.