Life’s Little Frustrations

One of the problems with having a lot of money is that children of the wealthy do not have to overcome many of life’s challenges and frustrations.

Wealthy kids may not tolerate frustration well.

Because they don’t have the chance to experience and overcome difficulty, some wealthy children don’t build competence bit by bit and don’t learn that failure can be instructive.

According to Jessie O’Neill in The Golden Ghetto the Psychology of Affluence, their low tolerance for frustration is a major concern for adult children of affluent homes. It impairs their ability to pursue life goals – they don’t have to do the task at hand, so once they get frustrated, they walk away. This in turn feeds their negative self image. She says:

 “Because children of affluence experience so little healthy frustration while living the ‘good life’, the never develop the tolerance for frustration that is necessary to live a balanced, fulfilling life.”

Often, wealthy parents are busy earning or managing the wealth and sometimes substitute money for their time – or the child’s time. How much easier is it (if you have the money) to pay someone to clean your kid’s room rather than to work with the child to help them learn how to do it (and get them to do it consistently)?

In Richistan – A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich, Robert Frank quotes Ellen Perry, the Wealthbridge founder as saying:

“When you have someone there to do virtually every chore, that really changes the life of a kid, you don’t learn basic skills that are fundamental building blocks for the rest of your life. The privilege gets in the way of healthy maturation. Money gives people the ability to buy their way out of life experiences. The parents may think they’re helping their child, but they’re actually robbing them.”

Jesse O’Neill confirms this in Golden Ghetto when she says:

“Parents also need to allow their children to feel the consequences of their behavior; don’t buy their way out of their mistakes. Being held accountable for one’s actions is an important step toward learning what the acceptable boundaries are within our society.”

Even if the parents don’t buy the child’s way out of an experience, sometimes wealthy parents are intent on certain outcomes for the activities of their child and are strong minded enough to force the outcome.

In Children of Paradise – Successful Parenting for Prosperous Families, Lee Hausner says:

“ In spite of their advantages, affluent children are often at risk in the area of competency. Living with strong, capable and concerned – sometimes to the point of intrusiveness- parents who frequently tell them exactly what to do and how to do it, and being attended to by doting hired help, these children can easily become handicapped in their development of independence and self-discipline.”

Let your child meet and overcome challenges.

Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are taking away an opportunity from our child to rise to a challenge. How many of us, to save time in our busy day, will just do something for our child instead of taking the time to teach or spending the effort to deal with the frustrated child trying to do something new?

Finally, how often are we tempted to do something for our child, instead of letting them learn, because we are in public and a frustrated child draws attention?

In the below video, the toddler is wanting a drink from the fountain but has not learned to press the bar and lean forward to drink all at the same time. Listen to the Dad – how many of us would have the patience to let the child try several times before diving in to assist?

The Dad allowed the child to be frustrated, at least enough to try the activity several times – but knew when to step in and support the child (learning to trust in that support is also a key to developing healthy self-esteem).

Allow your child to fail.

So, what should you do? Let your child experience life so he or she can develop the skills, competency and attitudes needed to be self-reliant and successful.

In Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth – A Life Guide for Inheritors,Thayer Cheatham Willis says:

“ Parents, therefore, can help their children’s inner growth by allowing for failure, frustration, and striving in their young lives because these experiences lead to emotional maturity and a deepening sense of personal satisfaction. “

This is confirmed by Mark Haynes Daniell in Strategy for the Wealthy Family – Seven Principles to Assure Riches to Riches Across Generations when he says:

“Many parents and family patriarchs believe that it is their responsibility to provide an ideal life for the children or grandchildren, protecting them from painful or difficult experiences, even when it is exactly these types of experiences that gave the founders and leaders of the family the strength to succeed.”


Children of Paradise – Successful Parenting for Prosperous Familiesp 42, by Lee Hausner, copyright 1990, published by St. Martins Press

A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich  p. 223 by Robert Frank, copyright 2007, published by Three Rivers Press

Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth – A Life Guide for Inheritorsp. 84 by Thayer Cheatham Willis, copyright 2003, published by New Concord Press

Strategy for the Wealthy Family – Seven Principles to Assure Riches to Riches Across Generationsp. 87 by Mark Haynes Daniell, copyright 2008, published by John Wiley & Sons

The Golden Ghetto the Psychology of Affluence p. 173 by Jessie O’Neill p90, copyright 1997, published by Stanton Publication Services


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