Madeline Levine (Harper, 2006)
Review by Barbara Feinberg:
In The Price of Privilege, Madeline Levine, PhD, examines the issues high net worth families face. Framed in developmental terms, we see how living in extremely competitive successful communities can permeate and undermine healthy relationships. Parents may invest too much in their child’s performance rather than respecting his/her needs and unique personality. Buying an abundance of possessions, expensive schools and lavish vacations cannot replace the necessity of setting appropriate limits and investing “quality time.”
Interestingly enough, these families face a paradox of affluence and deprivation – the profusion of things and the scarcity of genuine understanding, attention and love. The link depicted between adolescent depression and acting out behavior, particularly drug abuse and other dangerous activities, is frightening and accurate.
With great insight and a clear voice, the author provides concrete guidance for parents as they teach their children responsibility, solid values and unconditional love. This advice emphasizes the role of structure and appropriate consequences for misbehavior in shaping self-esteem and character.
Illustrations taken from the author’s therapy practice in Marin County, California anchor the explanation of the role parents play in their child’s emerging personality. Of particular value, the book examines the ways in which parents are unhappy in their own lives may create enmeshed and intrusive relationships with their children to lessen the parent’s own loneliness and frustration.
The pressures on both parents and children of privilege can drive, either directly or indirectly, the decisions parents and grandparents make – about investments, estate planning, education, philanthropy, and other concerns for which clients seek professional advice. Advisors who understand family dynamics, worries and problems are more effective and trusted than those focused only on the their profession’s technical requirements.
In summary, this well-written book should be read and reread by parents, clinicians and other advisors to high net worth clients.
Reviewed by 21/64-trained advisor Barbara Feinberg, LISW-S, IMFT, a life coach and psychotherapist specializing in the emotional impact of wealth on individuals and families.