Affluent families have it all - troubled children included
In 2005, Columbia University scholars noted that children in households with median incomes ranging from $80,000 to $102,000, smoked, drank, and used marijuana and hard drugs much more than their urban peers, whose households averaged $35,000 in income. The suburban teens also reported greater anxiety and depression.
"Having resources doesn't make parenting easier or harder. It just makes it different," said Crista Martinez, director of Families First Parenting Programs near Boston.
Numbers notwithstanding, I don't consider ours an "affluent" household. But we do struggle with not giving in to Ellie's wants just because we can afford it. The fact that she is an only child complicates matters ever further. These tips from Families First Parenting Programs are good ones - even for those of us without vacation homes:
Praise your child for specific accomplishments. Excessive, generalized praise can sound empty.
Avoid overscheduling. It's hard to limit activities when there are few financial restraints, but too many can hurt a child's ability to become independent and manage his or her own time.
Honor your child's interests. Let your child's talents, not your aspirations, dictate what he or she pursues.
Communicate openly about your wealth. Be honest about parenting dilemmas you face.
Make the connection between work and reward. Families with household help may not need their children to clean their rooms, but contributions build a sense of responsibility.
Step back from the pressure to acquire. Reevaluate the values and priorities you convey to your child.
Spend unstructured time together. Affluent parents can struggle to just "be" with their children. Make time when no one is pressured to perform.
Acknowledge children's feelings. Children are more likely to cooperate when they feel understood.