The Risk of Raising Children in Wealthy Communities Like Boca Raton

Not many people realize that growing up in a wealthy community can have some negative influences on child development and mental health. In the state of Florida, for example, wealthy communities in places like Boca Raton, Miami, and Ft. Lauderdale have above-national average household income and safer environments in terms of crimes rates.

However, the teen addiction epidemic is not better in these affluent neighborhoods. Children growing up in well-to-do families there are becoming increasingly troubled, reckless, and self-sabotaging. In recent years, more and more troubled teenagers from the Boca Raton area are struggling with mental health, behavioral and addiction issues. One might wonder, given all the resources these wealthy families have access to, such as counseling and therapies, why hasn't the situation improved?

The 'Privileged Child' Syndrome

Growing up in a culture or family of affluence offers many opportunities for children to flourish. However, there are also potential psychosocial risks. Research has shown that children from wealthy families tend to experience more anxiety and depression. To the general public, this might first appear as a counterintuitive finding. Why might "privileged" youth be troubled? It turns out that there are many systemic factors behind the "privileged child syndrome."

First, children raised in wealthy communities are expected to show high achievement. Their parents often have higher educational degrees and occupy important career positions. In the families' social circles, parents also succumb to peer pressure to raise children in a certain way to show accomplishments. Children's other aspects of life, such as character and emotional wellbeing, are often devalued. Such high parental pressure can be a constant source of stress and anxiety.

Secondly, children from wealthy families tend to experience more parental neglect when growing up. Parents with important jobs often leave home for business trips, leaving children to hired caregivers. Parents also tend to think this is good for their children's self-sufficiency. However, there is generally a lack of emotional bonding and nurturing. Emotional isolation may lead to distress.

Resistance to Treatment 

Even after children from wealthy families are found to have mental health issues and substance abuse problems, parents are less eager to follow the most standard process of treatment, which requires more parental involvement. Delayed intervention and treatment are very common.

Some may be reluctant to seek professional help because of privacy concerns. They fear that this may become an embarrassment in their social circle. There is a need to always maintain a veneer of wellbeing and family unity. Entering their children into detox treatment or mental health rehab might become known in these children's schools, as their children tend to participate in many activities. In sum, the stake of residential treatment is very high.

Educators in schools that serve wealthy families tend to be less persistent in having students screened, diagnosed, and recommended for treatment. Some counselors, for example, may hesitate to express concerns to parents from a wealthy background, sometimes fearing threats of lawsuits. As a result, wealthy youth may end up having less access to school-based counseling services than students from less well-off family backgrounds.

The Hard Lesson: Parents Need to Change First 

Addressing these systemic problems needs to start with the first step toward more parental involvement. It is time parents examine the true costs of their competitive and overscheduled lifestyles. Maybe those with work addiction need to seek help from mental health professionals first. Otherwise, it would be hard and unsustainable for parents to monitor their children's wellbeing.

Wealth does not protect children from being at risk of harm. Unfortunately, many family dynamics (including abuse and neglect) have already introduced children into a harmful environment. Affluence itself becomes a risk factor in adolescent development. Parents need to re-examine whether they have placed money above values. If a home provides little parental presence but a lot of financial means to get whatever one wants, drugs and alcohol may easily become an adolescent's self-soothing method against isolation.

Emotional nurturing and bonding are of primary importance between parent and child. Parenting practices centered around nurturing assure children that they are loved through words and action. Family members create quality time to have fun together. They listen to each other about what happens in their inner, emotional world. Most importantly, parents are role models in whom children place their trust.

Early and effective intervention for wealthy youth should be a responsible parent's top priority. Denialism can only make things worse. Many families have learned this lesson the hard way. Untreated or ineffectively treated teens may experience more cognitive and mental difficulties in later life. Consult with a professional interventionist, and change can start today.

Do you wonder why mental health issues and substance abuse have been rampant problems among youth from wealthy families? Why don't many seek professional intervention and treatment? There are systemic factors contributing to the lack of care for teens and adolescents of wealthy families. Affluence, stress, and easy access to substances seem to form a vicious cycle. Parents and educators have the power to break this cycle if they work with professional interventionists and health specialists. At South Florida Intervention, our professionally trained interventionists have helped many parents and their teens emerge from this crisis. We know the complexity of the problem and can help ensure your privacy during treatment. Apart from recovery coaching and parent coaching, we also offer detailed case management. We can also provide a sober escort service for people in early sobriety. With our support, your child will have an excellent chance of achieving sobriety and wellness. Call us at (202) 390-2273.