Dear Grandparenting: We raised our daughter to work hard and live within her means. We practiced what we preached. My late husband Nelson and I had one credit card between us. We only really used it for trips out to west to see Nelson’s family.
My daughter’s husband started a little company eight years ago that protects computers against bad guys like hackers. Last month he agreed to sell for seriously big money.
My granddaughter is seven years old. Her brother just turned nine. Both will be set for life and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Who’s to say I don’t wind up with two lazy, materialistic underachievers for grandchildren? Sudden wealth can change people for the worse. Help me keep their little heads on straight. Cecilia Robinson, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Dear Cecilia: Although plenty of families would like to have your problem, coming into big money can indeed create challenges for children. There’s even a name for it — sudden wealth syndrome.
Research has revealed a multitude of troubles that can plague children who may seem to have it all. Wealthy kids are frequently more distressed than peers from lower-income families and at greater risk for anxiety and depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and cheating and stealing.
Issues can stem from pressure to achieve to loss of sense of purpose or self-identity. Some sink into isolation and paranoia, certain everyone is just after their money. Others feel guilt for being so undeservedly blessed or have trouble adapting to new lifestyles and relationships.
Rich kids face envy and resentment from the less fortunate and are often presumed to be “cold” and out of touch. Studies show those of lower socio-economic status are better at reading faces, a key component of empathy. Instead of lavishing goodies galore on your grandchildren, we’re betting your daughter will instill the same values of hard work and moderation that you gave to her.
Grand remark of the week
Brenda Harter from Dayton, Ohio has “T.G.I.F.” inscribed on her bracelet. “It’s not what people think,” she said. “It doesn’t stand for Thank God It’s Friday. It stands for This Grandma Is Fantastic.”