Saturday, January 10, 2009

Unhappy teens from privileged families

I recently read The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Madeline Levine. Levine is a clinical psychologist who has spent the past 25 years working with many teens from upper-middle-class families. Although these teens are often smart and talented, meeting their parent’s academic and athletic expectations, they are also often feeling depressed, anxious and empty.

Levine writes that researchers have found that “children of privilege are exhibiting unexpectedly high rates of emotional problems beginning in junior high school and accelerating through adolescence.” She reports “… two factors repeatedly emerge as contributing to their high levels of emotional problems. The first is achievement pressure and the second is isolation from parents. While achievement pressure and isolation from parents appear to be mutually exclusive (somebody has to be putting the pressure on), they are not. In fact, achievement pressure often comes from parents who are overinvolved in how well their children perform and inadequately involved in monitoring these same children in other areas.”

Pulling information from both research and her own clinical cases, Levine does an excellent job supporting her points with real life examples. The Price of Privilege book provides insight and guidance for parents from any economic status who want to support their children in developing into emotionally healthy adults.



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