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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Suburban Kids Under More Pressure than Ever

Pediatricians and psychologists report more and more affluent kids coming to them stressed out, fatigued, and overwhelmed. The kids are under increasing pressure from their parents to be the perfect child; excelling in school, sports, and other extracurriculars. Divorced from traditional supports such as extended family, religious institutions, and steady jobs, wealthy parents may seek their own sense of identity through their children. Experts say that parents may be over-invested in their children's success, which can cause anxiety for the child. Children can suffer anxiety, anger, and other emotional problems if they feel they're not living up to their parents' expectations. Emotional isolation from parents only adds to the problems. Suniya Luthar found that parental and societal expectations of perfection were driving behavioral problems--including substance abuse--in wealthy suburban children. Luthar says, however, that many parents are just trying to give their children more than they had. "I will not sit in judgment of any parent and say, `You're doing a bad job,'" Luthar said. "For many of us, I don't think we're aware of many of the risks and pressures that can arise, paradoxically, from trying to do the best for our children."

The article, entitled "Parents Turn Up the Heat" appeared in the December 16th edition of the Hartford Courant .previous page