Consequences Of Growing Up Privileged
Recently, the United States has experienced an expansion in its upper-income societies. From the year 2000 to 2014, the number of adults living in upper-income households increased by 76 percent in observed metropolitan areas. (America’s Shrinking Middle Class) Children of these upper-income families are exposed to greater opportunities and receive many benefits such as better health care treatment and education due to the resources available to them. On average, children raised in these households are less likely to suffer from obesity and more likely graduate with a college degree in comparison to children of lower-income families. (Ed Cara) At first glance, this lifestyle appears to be ideal. However, being born and raised in an upper-income household can have negative effects on children.
Growing up in gated communities secludes children from society as a whole and can lead to them developing distorted views of the world. By growing up surrounded by people with similar lifestyles, wealthy children see their way of living as “normal” when in fact majority of the population does not live like them. In Washington, a group of students from an upper-class district traveled to work on homes for the less-privileged and the experience was eye-opening. As one student, Zach Hannan, recalled, “I don’t usually encounter people who aren’t like [me]. I’m not used to seeing small houses”. (qtd. in Washington: A World Apart) Another student, Breanna LaTondre, added that “it was the first time [she’d] seen anyone who lived [in poverty] merely because they couldn’t afford better. [Where she lives], if your house doesn’t have a garage, you’re considered poor”. (qtd. in Washington: A World Apart) Children today, like Zach and Breanna, are too far removed from the way a lot of people live. According to Stanford sociologist Sean Reardon, “We ought to worry about what this means for society when kids who are the most advantaged don’t grow up with much experience or understanding of how the other 95 percent live, particularly the bottom half”. (qtd. in Washington: A World Apart) Their perspective of reality is like a horse wearing blinders. Wealth has narrowed their focus, inhibiting them from seeing the bigger picture.
Another consequence of growing up privileged is the potential development of a lack of appreciation for the lifestyle these children have. Without personal investment, as some might call ‘skin in the game’, there is no sense of ownership, which can lead to children’s lack of appreciation for what they have. By having a sense of ownership, there is pride that something was earned and not just given. That sense of ownership and responsibility is now being replaced in today’s world of privileged children with that of entitlement. This is a growing concern of parents whose children are being raised in an affluent environment. They fear that their children will never come to appreciate or even understand the effort that goes into making the lifestyle they live in now a possibility. According to Robin Taub, a chartered professional accountant, “For affluent parents, it’s a concern – educating their kids about money. Most parents want their kids to be financially responsible and independent. ” (Kira Vermond) By being able to have almost any desire within arm’s reach, privileged children can potentially develop the mindset of being entitled to whatever they want and fail to see the hard work and effort that goes into achieving and maintaining the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.
Privileged children also face many battles with mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. According to research findings by psychology professor, Suniya Luthar, “on average, serious levels of depression, anxiety or somatic [physical] symptoms occur twice as often among these [wealthier] boys and girls compared to national rates. ” (qtd. in Children of Rich Parents Suffering Increased Mental Health Problems) Aside from mental illnesses, privileged children are also at higher risk for drug addiction and alcohol abuse than children in lower income families. On average, approximately 78 percent of children living in high income households reported abusing drugs and alcohol compared to only 45 percent of children in lower income families. (Cristina Utti)
Although having these substances readily available is a contributing factor, the primary reason behind these mental illnesses and substance abuse stems from the immense pressure that is placed on children starting at a young age. Where as parents from economically challenged families are focused on issues such as bill payments and making sure there is food on the table every night, parents from affluent families turn their concern to the success of their children and hold them to exceptionally high standards. Parents, however, aren’t the only source of pressure. Children also face pressures from school and even coaches, as there is competition to see who will be accepted into the top-ranking universities or who will be the best athlete. (Children of Rich Parents Suffering Increased Mental Health Problems) All these factors combined create a stressful environment for children who then find temporary relief in drugs and alcohol. Although living in an upper-income family has its benefits, children growing up in these households face numerous challenges that have a negative impact on their lives.
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