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The Price of Privilege

How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids

Madeline Levine

Sub-title pretty much sums up the whole book. Pushy parents give kids message that all they care about is the grades their kids get, so their sense of worth is tied to that, and not any other qualities. And, because they're busy and short of time to spend with their kids they compensate by dumping material goodies on them.

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Parents try to shield their kids from either challenge or disappointment. Put extremely high demands on kids for academic or extra-curricular achievement, but very low expectations about family responsibilities.

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Parents who persistently intervene for their child, as opposed to supporting their child's attempts to problem-solve, interfere with the most important task of childhood and adolescence: autonomy, the development of a sense of self. In a supportive and respective family, teenager forges a sense of self by learning to manage increasingly complex personal and interpersonal challenges.

Well-meaning parents contribute to problems in self-development by pressuring their children, emphasizing external measures of success, being overly critical, and being alternately intrusive or emotionally unavailable (usually when child has 'failed' some standard)

Need to realize that every child has a different timetable, and most are ahead of the pack in some areas and behind in others. Sometimes a nudge is helpful, but a shove rarely is.

Motivation for anything has to come from inside. When it does, get genuine effort. When it comes from outside, you get lip-service - just enough effort to shut the parent up, but without any real engagement.

Authenticity is not aided when kids have to battle against parents who are trying to implant other, often unrealistic 'selves' - stellar student, outstanding athlete, perfect kid - into a teenager's already crowded psychological landscape.

Adolescents need a lot of support as they go about the task of figuring out their identities. Too often what they get is intrusion. Intrusion and support are two fundamentally different processes. Support is about the needs of the child, intrusion is about the needs of the parent.

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