Listen to this article
Rich kid-itis. That affliction that affects the 1 per cent. It’s one thing to read about it in the papers, but who among us has come in personal contact?
In the comments below the recent story “ How to stop your children catching ‘rich kid-itis’”, cases began to trickle in.
“At a family lunch, my teenage godson was asked by granny what he wanted to do when he grew up,” wrote FT commenter Messenger Featured. “He took his time, wistfully gazing into the distance, then looked his father straight in the eye and answered, ‘inherit’.”
On the other hand, Titan12 shared the story of the one that got away: “A guy I know’s dad owned and built a large landscaping business, and did very well for himself. He made his kid work with no special treatment alongside [his] Mexican [employees] in the Texas summers on landscaping jobs, and that’s how he earned money. Kid built and sold a business (not a lemonade stand) while at university. Down to earth as hell. So that’s my plan.”
As it turns out, FT readers know rich kid-itis well: they have their own personal stories; advice on how to immunise your children; and theories about what causes it to begin with. Read on for the best of them.
Money corrupts us
“This article reminds me of a Dickensian solicitor who said: “There has been many a child ruined by his inheritance!” — Paul Munton’s Potimarron
“There are no right answers. Unfortunately, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. The rich have the advantage that to get into the top prep schools and universities (at least in the US) your parents can pay for coaching [to give you] a leg up. Also, daddy can donate enough to have a residential wing named after the family, and future generations can all have an Ivy League degree. Family contacts can get you a job with a top financial institution or a multinational. With the increase of the super-rich (let’s say over $100m) the number of advantaged kids will keep increasing. Not all of them will make it, but the odds are certainly in their favour. The poor will have to work harder to migrate into the upper-middle class or elite.” — Sapien
Blame your parents
“What a dreadful existence, what a dreadful legacy. Poor little rich kid! Where I live they drive their Mercedes sports car to school, pay for their lunch with credit cards and so on. Dreadful. [They are] poor in other ways. I had super parents, and when I reached age of majority, I was on my own. My father wanted to see if his son had guts. I have guts and had a great time. Poverty, yes, but experiences I would not give up for any wealth. If you were raised well, taking care of yourself comes naturally. So what I read in this article is that if we wish to take care of the next generation, we should legislate for a more equal society; and raise inheritance tax so our delightful offspring and their children learn to look after themselves.” -OR68
“There are many children of successful lawyers, bankers, politicians and business people who turn out OK in life because both parents are high-achieving, driven and well-educated. The problems arise when one parent works hard and long hours, and the other — who is actually around the kids — is spending [and] allows said kids to do anything they want. Even if the kids get a good education, if they are not under pressure they will not work.” -F.c.p.
Lessons worth learning
“These days, it’s important that kids understand modern money thinking: negative interest rates (how money vanishes if you save it), quantitative easing (how free money can be handed out to favoured parties), fiscal stimulus (how money can be spent now and earned later), etc. Come to think of it, maybe it’s not only children that need to be educated about the value of money.” — RiskAdjustedReturn
“Those I know from wealthy backgrounds that ended up OK:
1. Strong parental involvement: small things like having dinner as a family are irreplaceable. And never back down or buy them stuff to smooth over disagreements. Families are love, but shouldn’t be democracies. You are the parent; act like it.
2. Parents approve of peers based on character and not class: one guy I know was clearly wealthy, but his parents approved of all friends of good character and self-ambition and he never developed the haughty attitude and spoilt mentality that so many others have.
3. Neighbourhood: rich kids that grow up in middle-class neighbourhoods seem to relate more easily than people [living] in a gated community.
4. Instil a sense of responsibility: few things are “a right” or “a need” and most are a privilege.
5. It is useless to teach your kids sensible spending habits if you and your spouse don’t practice them.
6. Don’t let a “top school” raise your kid. The nanny and the $30,000-per-year school aren’t going to give your kid values and direction. I went to public school but had friends in top-tier private and boarding schools. We had our share of drugs, sex, etc but some of the stories I heard from friends at the ”better places” would even make our football team blanch. A social attitude that accepts degraded morality will corrupt everyone except those who can think for themselves and have their own values.” — Think Positive
Life is unfair
“The playground has never been level. Sure, kids of wealthy parents do have a substantive head start — that is unfair, why? You are simply born where you are. People born in a western country have all got a massive head-start in life when compared to people born in poorer countries around the world.” — EinarBB
“I suspect that a lot of those who vociferously condemn the inheritance of wealth are able to pass on high intellect to their children. The inheritance of wealth may indeed be morally indefensible, but what do we do about the inheritance of a high IQ? Presumably nothing. Should those who have had the luck to win the intellectual lottery not therefore be more understanding of those who can pass on mere wealth only?” — Geoffrey Gardiner
I am not your audience
“If this is a concern for the majority of FT readers, I’m definitely at the wrong end of the bell curve.” — Caz2
Compiled by Lilah Raptopoulos, Hugo Greenhalgh and Lucinda Elliott
Financial experts will discuss The Perils of Buying Property for your Children on the House & Home stage at the FT Weekend Live Festival on September 3, Hampstead Heath, London, alongside Vivienne Westwood, Lionel Barber, Heston Blumenthal OBE, Alan Rusbridger and Martin Wolf. Details and tickets from live.ft.com/Events/2016/FT-Weekend-Live