Fete Lifestyle Magazine September 2017 Family Issue - Page 59

I am reminded that it hardly matters which elementary school on the north side of Chicago my young children attend. Certainly there are differences, and some schools are better suited for some kids than others. The irrefutable truth is, however, that my children are inherently advantaged by virtue of being the children of parents who have legal status in this country. They will never fret their legal ability to attend university or work in the field of their passion. What is more, these are children of parents with advanced degrees and corresponding vocabulary. Parents with lots of books on the shelves. I recently read a book called “Thirty Million Words.” According to this book, children in high poverty and high stress situations, such as those from several neighborhoods in Chicago, are exposed to approximately thirty million fewer words by the time they are four years old. The book presents research demonstrating that such lack of exposure to language at such a young age has a devastating impact on children’s likelihood of academic success. This is the reality of my children’s privilege, through the lens of only one of many indicators, from the time of their birth. I consider whether my privilege requires me to stop fretting over my children’s academic curriculum.

Then strolls in Malcolm Gladwell and his new book, “David and Goliath.” According to him, while it is undeniable that children of households without sufficient income to provide for their family’s basic needs struggle emotionally and psychologically, those from families who earn too much income are more likely to suffer from the worst of emotional fates (depression, anxiety, addiction, and even suicide.) In other words, there is something about the very wealthy that leads to as much emotional toxicity for their children as those on the other side of the spectrum. Gladwell’s research suggests the perfect balance of income is approximately $75,000 a year; enough to live a reasonably comfortable lifestyle, but not so much that children lose the value of money.