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Rich Kids, Jaded Kids
Rich kids may not need to worry about making a living. But, they still need to know how to make a life. And often it’s harder for them than for other kids.
Why should it be harder? After all, they have every advantage in life. That’s true. But money doesn’t buy happiness. It doesn’t buy motivation. It doesn’t buy values. And it doesn’t buy your way out of the human condition.
You may own the best of the best and still feel inadequate. You may have an abundance of experiences and still feel empty. You may have been raised on praise and still feel unworthy. You may have every luxury, yet lack empathy for others. This is true not only for the heirs of the “One Percent” but also for those families with enough wealth to give “everything” to their kids.
When kids are born into wealthy families, here are some of the issues they face:
- What is there to achieve? My dad - or mom - is top dog already. Where can I go from here? How can I make a difference? Whatever I do, can it ever be enough?
- What is there to get motivated about? When you have so much, you appreciate less. Been there, done that. Oh hum, another trip to Europe. Another BMW - after totaling the last one. When you have everything, what matters? Why work hard? What’s the payoff?
- Why should I strike out on my own when I have everything I ever wanted right here at home? Indeed, why even grow up? The adolescent stage of partying, drugging, pissing people off, reveling in existential angst may last way past the teen years.
- Do people like me for me or because I come with perks? If I invite a friend on a family vacation - all expenses paid, is that why he’s my friend? When I’m dating, is the main attraction me or my money?
Parents, it’s not an easy job to raise kids no matter what your finances are. If you’re wealthy, you may find it’s far easier to pass down money than to pass down motivation or to pass on values. Though your kids may not have to concern themselves with how to make a living, they still need to figure out how make a life. To do so, they need to:
- Discover what matters to them other than their narcissistic pleasures;
- Learn how to tolerate frustration without having a melt-down;
- Appreciate giving as well as getting;
- Immerse their time and energy in worthwhile activity.
As much as you’d like, you can’t do any of this for them. What you can do, however, is to listen to what they’re thinking, encourage productive activity and suggest paths to living a good life.
As Winston Churchill proclaimed, “You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.”
Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist and success coach who specializes in helping people overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. If your life is one long disconnect between what you intend to do and what you actually get around to doing, check out my new book, How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age.