Very often people envy the lifestyles of the rich and famous with their private jets, nannies for the children and a selection of homes to choose from dotted around the world. Then we read in the papers that their lifestyle is not so idyllic – more often than not these people seem to have troubles and their kids need addict help.
Very often these children are found to be playing around with drugs, acting up in nightclubs, getting involved in brawls and traffic accidents, going in and out of traditional forms of rehab. Obviously having a lot of money is no security against having an unhappy child, further proof if any were needed that money alone can’t buy contentment.
Wealthy families often expect the children to fit into and follow family traditions. The child is not even given an independent name – a boy might be named the same as his father and grandfather – Wilbur G Smith the third. The appearance of power and influence is very conditional upon his being compliant to family ways. The child is not in control of his lifestyle or his destiny. From birth the child is destined to be a third generation Wilbur G Smith – whatever that might mean.
A child might be given an independent name but there are strong expectations in the family of the lifestyle that the child is expected to choose. We are always hearing about the children of famous people such as movie stars who have difficulties finding a role in life that meets up to others expectations. Comparison to famous parents can make it hard for children to make lifestyle choices of their own.
Children who don’t have support to become a unique person in their own right often lack a sense of personal worth and identity – overshadowed by famous parents, some simply turn to drug use and need addict help.
There are reports of footballers turning to drugs when they fail to make the grade, who are really only in there because their father and grandfather played. With an all or nothing approach to a particular lifestyle, kids who don’t match up can be made to feel a failure, to have let down themselves and the family. Other options are simply not on offer or valued by the family.
Parents can often insist that a child follow a certain path – expecting the child to do well at school and go on to university. Some might have expectations that a son will follow his father’s trade, a girl might be forced into higher education to satisfy family pride, or expected to stay home to look after siblings and help support the family.
When children are able and willing to follow the expected role, life presents no obvious problems. But if the child fails in some way, or becomes aware of other options that they might like to follow – conflict emerges and the child has to decide which pathway it will follow.
When parents force choices children can become rebellious. Their displays of “independence” can be immature, designed to get attention or simply annoy the parent.
Instead of choosing a destructive path in which drug use is involved, children and young adults who feel under pressure to perform need some counseling. Holistic methods of drug detox and rehab can help a person to find healthy alternatives in their life. Diversity and difference can become a source of empowerment instead of causing conflict in the family and emotional pain.