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Madeline Levine has been a practicing psychologist for twenty-five years, but it was only recently that she began to observe a new breed of unhappy teenager. When a bright, personable fifteen-year-old girl, from a loving and financially comfortable family, came into her office with the word empty carved into her left forearm, Levine was startled. This girl and her message seemed to embody a disturbing pattern Levine had been observing. Her teenage patients were bright, socially skilled, and loved by their affluent parents. But behind a veneer of achievement and charm, many of these teens suffered severe emotional problems. What was going on?
Conversations with educators and clinicians across the country as well as meticulous research confirmed Levine's suspicions that something was terribly amiss. Numerous studies show that privileged adolescents are experiencing epidemic rates of depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse -- rates that are higher than those of any other socioeconomic group of young people in this country. The various elements of a perfect storm -- materialism, pressure to achieve, perfectionism, disconnection -- are combining to create a crisis in America's culture of affluence. This culture is as unmanageable for parents -- mothers in particular -- as it is for their children. While many privileged kids project confidence and know how to make a good impression, alarming numbers lack the basic foundation of psychological development: an authentic sense of self. Even parents often miss the signs of significant emotional problems in their "star" children.
In this controversial look at privileged families, Levine offers thoughtful, practical advice as she explodes one child-rearing myth after another. With empathy and candor, she identifies parenting practices that are toxic to healthy self-development and that have contributed to epidemic levels of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in the most unlikely place -- the affluent family.
“In this insightful book, Levine eschews the temptation to dismiss problems of privileged teens as overindulgence.”
“[Written] with clarity and understanding of the culture of affluence and its pitfalls for parents.”
“Fresh and important ideas about parenting in the age of affluence…”
-Mary Pipher, Ph.D., author of Reviving Ophelia
“Levine offers chapter after chapter of practical advice for dealing with family problems.”
-Connecticut Post Online
“[Madeline Levine’s] ideas may be uncomfortable for parents to read, but they’re a wonderful wake-up call.”
-Bay Area Insider
“Levine’s book explores some troubling and intriguing issues that certainly are worth pondering and discussing.”
-Marin Independent Journal
“She treats her subjects as well as her subject with compassion and understanding.”
“...[an] impassioned wake-up call to parents...”
-The Gazette (Montreal)
“This book has resonated in affluent communities all over the country. [Levine is] clearly on to something.”
“Her writing is warm and carefully thoughtful.”