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The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kidsby Madeline Levine
Synopses & Reviews
Madeline Levine has been a practicingpsychologist for twenty-five years, but it was only recently that she began to observe a new breed of unhappy teenager. When a bright, personable fifteen-year-old girl, from a loving and financially comfortable family, came into her office with the word empty carved into her left forearm, Levine was startled. This girl and her message seemed to embody a disturbing pattern Levine had been observing. Her teenage patients were bright, socially skilled, and loved by their affluent parents. But behind a veneer of achievement and charm, many of these teens suffered severe emotional problems. What was going on?
Conversations with educators and clinicians across the country as well as meticulous research confirmed Levine's suspicions that something was terribly amiss. Numerous studies show that privileged adolescents are experiencing epidemic rates of depression, anxietydisorders, and substance abuse—rates that are higherthan those of any other socioeconomic group ofyoung people in this country. The various elements of a perfect storm—materialism, pressure to achieve, perfectionism, disconnection—are combining to create a crisis in America's culture of affluence. This culture is as unmanageable for parents—mothers in particular—as it is for their children. While many privileged kids project confidence and know how to make a goodimpression, alarming numbers lack the basic foundation of psychological development: an authentic sense of self. Even parents often miss the signs of significant emotional problems in their "star" children.
In this controversial look at privileged families, Levine offers thoughtful, practical advice as she explodes one child-rearing myth after another. With empathy and candor, she identifies parenting practices that are toxic to healthy self-development and that have contributed to epidemic levels of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in the most unlikely place—the affluent family.
"A practicing psychologist in Marin County, Calif., Levine counsels troubled teens from affluent families, and finds it paradoxical that wealth — which can open the door to travel and other enriching opportunities — can produce such depressed, anxious, angry and bored teenagers. After comparing notes with colleagues, she concluded that consumerism too often substitutes for the sorts of struggles that produce thoughtful, happy people. If objects satisfy people, then they never get around to working on deeper issues. The teen years are supposed to be a time for character building. Avoiding this hard work with the distraction of consumer toys can produce 'vacant,' 'evacuated' or 'disconnected' teens, Levine believes. She is particularly useful when explaining common parenting dilemmas, like the difference between being intrusive and being involved, between laying down rules and encouraging autonomy. Alas, while Levine pitches to the educated moms, since they do much of the actual child-rearing, she may be preaching to the choir. Those who need her most may be too busy shopping to pick up such a dire-looking volume. Still, school guidance counselors should be happy to have this clear, sensitive volume on their bookshelves. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Levine, a clinical psychologist and lecturer on child and adolescent issues, describes how elements of affluence and the pressure to excel in school affect children in negative ways and hinder them from creating a sense of self. She discusses problems with materialism, what a healthy "self" is, and parenting challenges and strategies for different ages, as well as ways to promote autonomy, work on discipline and control, and what they need to think about in terms of their own lives and selves. The final chapter focuses on what mothers can do.
Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Book News Annotation:
Levine, a clinical psychologist and lecturer on child and adolescent issues, describes how elements of affluence and the pressure to excel in school affect children in negative ways and hinder them from creating a sense of self. She discusses problems with materialism, what a healthy "self" is, and parenting challenges and strategies for different ages, as well as ways to promote autonomy, work on discipline and control, and what they need to think about in terms of their own lives and selves. The final chapter focuses on what mothers can do. Annotation Â©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Madeline Levine, PH.D., has been a practicing clinical psychologist in Marin County for the past twenty-five years. She is the author of Viewing Violence and See No Evil: A Guide to Protecting Our Children from Media Violence. A frequent lecturer on child and adolescent issues, she lives in California with her husband and three sons.
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Health and Self-Help » Child Care and Parenting » General