Wealthier parents talk to their kids about school more often, have more books at home, and are more likely to pay for private school, says a recent study
Here’s another payoff to having rich parents.
Kids from wealthier families feel more in control of their lives, according to a Portland State University study recently released in the journal Society and Mental Health.
Sociology professor Dara Shifrer, who authored the research, wanted to know how influential parents’ wealth is on kids’ perceived “locus of control” — or how much they believe they can determine how events in their lives turn out — and found that the more money the family earns, the more kids feel like they have a say over their futures.
Why? Wealthier parents talk about school more frequently with their kids; they have homes with a greater number of books and resources to read; and they are more likely to send their kids to private school, the report said. What’s more, their kids generally earn higher grades, feel safer at school and have a group of friends who are “more academically oriented.”
“We know income shapes the way people parent, shapes the peers that kids have, shapes the schools they attend,” Shifrer said in a statement. “It’s not just kids’ perception — their lives are a little bit more out of control when they’re poor.”
Shifrer consulted data on 16,450 U.S. eighth grade students compiled in 1998 and 1990. While she conceded that factor could present a limitation to her study, she also pointed out this is one of few datasets that looks at kids’ locus of control.
But research shows a wealthy pedigree can undermine kids’ sense of control, too: Arizona State University psychology professor Suniya Luthar found that the burdensome stress to excel experienced by kids from wealthy households disproportionately manifests in depression and anxiety at levels twice as high as national norms. It can also lead them to abuse substances, disregard the rules and engage in other worrying behaviors, with symptoms first showing up in about seventh grade.
“There is scant time for exploration of who [these kids] are as individuals or for nurturing unique interests,” Luthar wrote in Psychology Today.
Research has also linked wealth in childhood to a greater risk of developing drug addiction later on. Luthar conducted a 2017 study that found more affluent youth had a propensity for overusing substances like alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy at rates two to three times higher than national norms. A possible cause is “the enormous pressure these kids are under trying to get into only the most selective universities,” she suggested.
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