“Children of the Affluent” is an article written by Suniya S. Luthar and Shawn J. Latendresse. The article examines the problems that youth from rich families face, that is, problems touching on their mental health and general well being. For a long time many people have been living with the assumption that the youth from rich and well to do families do not have challenges in their lives and if they have, then they are easily solved because they have the means. But as this article shows, this is not the case; in fact they face far too many challenges in life than the youth from poor families. This essay is, therefore, going to critically look at these challenges.
Challenges Facing the Youth from Rich Families.
The assumption that has existed for long that the youth from rich families are a low risk group necessitated the carrying out of research. Youths from high income regions were grouped in three cohorts named 1 to 3. These cohorts were observed over a period of time and annual assessments done. Sets of questions were allocated to each group. Cohort 1 dealt with substance use and problems related to it. Students from the suburbs were found to have a lot of trouble; they reported excessive use of alcohol, cigarettes, hard drugs and marijuana than their counterparts from the inner city. They also indicated that they experienced higher anxiety and depression. High depression levels were more pronounced in girls found in this cohort. Depression and anxiety are major causes of substance use in many people not just the youth. This is largely found among the rich, who have money and therefore will always look for ways to treat themselves when they feel depressed or anxious. This, when done over a period of time becomes an addiction and the individual finds it hard to detach himself or herself from it even past the teen years. The youth also value popularity a lot especially with their classmates or college mates. This, among the affluent, encourages substance use because they have the money to use in doing what others are doing just to please them (Luthar & Latendresse, 2005)
In cohort two there was no evidence of trouble among the youth in sixth grade, but problems started to show among the seventh graders. Older girls in this group showed high rates of experiencing depression and boys reported using alcohol to intoxication levels and using marijuana at least once a month. The major cause to this was again anxiety and depression and to some extent peer popularity. The trend was the same among the youth in cohort three. One might ask, why should such privileged youth be troubled? And the answer to these as the article shows is that many youth who see the failure to achieve as a personal failure and those whose parents put a lot of emphasis on their accomplishments instead of their personal character get depressed more often. Another thing is that the youth who stay alone or are isolated from the adults for some significant periods of time, lack emotional closeness and therefore are driven to distress and substance use (Luthar & Latendresse, 2005)
Another important aspect considered was family functioning; many assume that high-income youth are more accessible to their parents than the low-income youth which is very contrary to the findings here. Inner city students felt that they were not close to their parents and that eating with their parents was not regular but felt that they were comfortable with meeting parental expectations; this was the other way round as concerns the suburban youth. This report shows that eating together with parents go along way in determining the youth’s self- reported adjustment and improved performance at school. Subsequent observations still showed that the seventh grade students in cohort three were still affected by peer pressure in both the suburbs and in the inner city. Developmental changes among the youth in both socioeconomic extremes seem to dictate, to some extent, how they behave. They seem to like those who rebel against authority, not putting any effort in their academics, disobeying school rules, being aggressive especially among girls and boy and eventually resorting to substance use. All these indicate clearly that the assumptions that the affluent youth are not badly affected by these factors just because they have concerned and capable parents who can provide high quality treatment is not true. Youth in both categories, as was found out, exhibit serious behavioral disturbances and poor grades in school which are big contributors to stress, depression and anxiety among the youth which then bring about substance use. The only striking difference is that these behaviors are observed more in the rich kids whereby it is sustained up to 18 years of age (Luthar & Latendresse, 2005)
The affluent parents are to blame to some extent, for the problems that their youth go true. As much as they will be willing to pay for their treatment when need comes, they seem not to care about those problems that can not be easily observed in their children. It is found out that these parents will sometimes be aware of something wrong in their children, but unless it is affecting them, they do nothing about it for fear of embarrassment or just because of privacy concerns. The nature of the careers of these parents also dictate their way of life, there are those that demand long working hours thereby denying the youth enough time with their parents. The assumption that affluent youth do not have problems in their lives seem to extend to clinicians at school whereby a kid from a poor family having the same problem as that one from a rich family, will receive more attention than the rich one. The end result is that the rich youth end up getting less access to counseling services that would otherwise help in mitigating the problems in their lives (Luthar & Latendresse, 2005).
I totally agree with this report, assumptions and misconceptions that have existed about the affluent youth should not be encouraged any more. These only serve to destroy them the more. As research has shown, the youth from both socioeconomic extremes show near to similar behavioral reactions to the dictates of life. The rich parents on the other hand should pay more attention to the lives of their children, should closely monitor their behavior as they grow over the years and encourage them to have integrity, work hard in school and avoid bad company as peer pressure especially negative peer pressure might just destroy them. Medical practitioners in school should treat all students as equals not on the basis of their economic status as this disadvantage the rich. I strongly believe that if this report is taken up and implemented to its fullest, the affluent youth will live a comfortable life, one without depression, anxiety and therefore no fears of them resorting to substance use which is detrimental to their health. The authors did a good job but it would have been better if they touched a bit on the importance of recreational or co curricular activities in the youth. This eliminates idleness and therefore a youths mind will always be engaged, having no time for stress or substance use.
Because of the many assumptions surrounding the problems that the youth of the rich and the poor face, this research sort to clarify and suggest ways to help especially the affluent youth who apparently seem to be adversely affected by the assumptions. And as it has come out, it is clear that the affluent youth face far too many effects of these negligence, cases of depression, anxiety and substance use are reported to be very high as they seek to treat themselves because their parents mostly are too busy to care about them. Peer pressure also emerged as a big contributor as they seek to win favor in the eyes of their friends who they mingle with most of the time. It should be acknowledged that this is not just a family issue, but one affecting the society because these youths will grow up and become influential members of the society, who if not brought up well, will grow up to be a burden to the same society. This report therefore calls for more research on whether these problems are mere developmental problems that will stop ones the youth have grown or whether they are signs of deep, existing problems that will be hard to correct later. It should also determine whether prolonged isolation of teens from the grown ups and family pressure set them apart carrying these disturbances into adulthood. The risks attached to affluence should be made aware to both practitioners and parents so that they deal with them appropriately for the benefit of all. This article is quite relevant to the current situation and will serve as a constant remind to the general society and the government in particular to take due measure to ensure that youth from the extreme are availed to the correct condition to enable them grow in the proper way.