"You know, Bob, you can just buy so much stuff, and when you get to the point where you can just buy so much stuff, now what are you going to do?" What's the significance of this research for the vast majority of us who aren't wealthy?
This research shows the rest of the world, who often think that if they just made one more bonus or sold one more item or got one more promotion, then their world and their family's world would be so much better, that this isn't necessarily true. There's another whole level of concerns that parents are going to have about their kids. One of those concerns is this feeling of isolation. That's actually a No. 1 concern for families with a high net worth — this sense of isolation — and the higher the wealth, the worse it gets. We know this is a very powerful feeling when it comes to one's overall sense of well- being, and these people feel very isolated because they have what most of the world thinks they want. But just because you have money doesn't mean you're not going to have a bad day every once in a while. But what you often lose when you have all this money is the friendships that support you through the difficult times. What have you learned through your years of working with people with a high net worth? I think the toughest part about both working with this population and being in this population is that as soon as you say they have a net worth of $25 million, someone will start playing the violin. Like, "Oh, cry me a river, you have all this money and it's causing problems?" No one is saying, "Poor me, I have a lot of money." In fact, most of them are saying, "I love having a lot of money. But don't get me wrong, there are some downsides." These people don't have to worry about whether they'll have enough to make the mortgage payment, and they feel very fortunate. But it isn't nirvana either. If their kids have access to a lot of money, and therefore a lot of drugs, that hurts just as much as if they don't have any money and their kids are doing drugs. It doesn't save you from any of that. It's still a parent who has a child who is hurting. Amy Novotney is a writer in Chicago.
- Fall '17
- Robert Kenny