Being Raised in a Wealthy Family: a Blessing or a Curse?

I’ve been playing with this question for a long time.

Probably, the answer seems obvious for most of you: “Off course, being raised in a rich family is a blessing, what would you think?”

But is it really like that?

Let’s find out together.


I was listening to an audiobook today, called: “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell

In his book, Malcolm talks about how talent, training and luck play their role in the achievements of the most successful people on this planet.

Anyway,

There was a section that really grabbed my attention. The author started talking about the difference between analytical intelligence and practical intelligence.

Analytical intelligence is the type of intelligence that is measured in IQ-tests and — to a large extent — comes with your genes. It is your ability to successfully complete academic tasks, solve analogies and process information.

Practical intelligence refers to a set of skills that have to be learned. It includes ‘social savviness’: knowing what to do or say, when and how.

But where does practical intelligence then come from?

Right. Our families are the first source of passing these attitudes and skills over to us.

But then came the really interesting part:

The author referred to a longitudinal study in which sociologists analyzed how children were raised, both in poor and wealthy families.

What they found was 2 totally different parenting philosophies. The wealthy parents raised their kids one way and the poor parents raised their kids another way.

So what were the differences?

  • The wealthier parents were heavily involved in their children’s free time, bringing them from one activity to the next. The poor parents didn’t have that luxury: they let their children make up games in the neighborhood with sibling or friends. For the poor parents, what a child did was something totally different from the adult world and they we’re totally free to make their own play.
  • The wealthier parents tended to talk a lot more things through with their children, reasoning with them while at the same time expecting the children to talk back to them. Therefore, these children often learned how to negotiate and question persons in authority pretty soon in life. The poor parents, by contrast, are intimidated by authority. They act rather passively and stay in the background.
  • The wealthier parents were continuously on the look-out to foster and assess their children’s talents, opinions and skills. The poor parents let their children grow more naturally: they see their responsibility to care for their children, but to let them develop and grow on their own.

So which parenting style is better?

The answer: none of them.

Both parenting styles simply have their advantages and disadvantages.

Children from wealthy families are not necessarily more ‘blessed’ than children from poor families.

In fact, studies show that poor children typically are less weepy, more creative and hold a more developed sense of independence.

In addition to that, children from wealthy families tend to feel more ‘entitled’ to things than poor children. This means that they feel like they deserve things, even when they don’t. Let that be the reason why a lot of ‘rich kids’ get frustrated when things don’t play out the way they wanted, causing them to quit early or find out-ways in external substances such as drugs, alcohol, etc.

When you assume you’re entitled to something, the more likely it is you’ll stop working to get it and let it come to you. This of course, is often a sure-fire way to failure.

Lastly, children from wealthy families often perceive more ‘pressure’ from their parents to perform well. Since they are given all the resources to study at the best schools and own the things they want, they often feel obliged to do a great job. This can potentially make them anxious and afraid to fail, which can lead to inertia.

Do you start to see a pattern?

Now, let’s not get too black-white here.

Being raised in a wealthy family has its advantages too. Entitlement can turn out positively as well: it often grants rich children the right to go after their own individual preferences and actively manage their relations in institutional settings.

Therefore, rich children are typically better in raising their voice in social settings, often shifting the interactions in accordance with their personal preferences and desires. They do this by negotiation and speaking up for themselves, something they learned from their parents early on.

Lastly, being raised in a wealthy family can simply give you access to a large range of opportunities. Wealthy people typically have a larger network than poor people, allowing their children to find future in whatever it is they like.


Most people would prefer to be raised in a wealthy family, but as we’ve seen: there are downsides to it.

The goal of this message was to give you a more balanced view on this topic. I still often hear comments like: ‘That person is just lucky, he has rich parents”.

Well, fine.

Now think of the benefits YOU have, and try to leverage them. Never forget that you have advantages too.

Cheers,

Anthony.