How Income Changes What Parents Worry About

Posted by on Jul 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments

dreamstime_xs_30832299You probably don’t think about it much as it’s not on most people’s radar, but have you ever wondered how income changes what parents worry about and if so, what are the differences?  Surely all parents worry about the same things don’t they?  Worries like whether their child goes to sleep or stays asleep or whether they do well in school, grow up to be successful and all of that.  All of those worries are pretty common, but it turns out that there are some worries that are definitively felt more depending on which economic group you’re part of.  It actually changes what keeps you up at night.

Let’s take a look at the top worry of parents in several different economic groups.  For the sake of argument, I’m going to use income generally as a measure whether that income exists from investments or from paid work. Rather than stick with traditional economic divisions, I have created three more descriptive and more honest ones.  The first is seriously wealthy, the second is comfortable and the third, struggling.

Of course these are generalizations and I should add, based on my own observations.  I should also make clear that not everybody shares identical worries within a certain sphere but they do offer an insight.  Last but not least, many people will have one foot in one group and have one foot in another but I digress.  Let’s start with the comfortable group of income earners before we go to either sides of the scale.

How income changes what parents worry about:  If you’re comfortable.

Though no one can describe what’s truly comfortable, if you’re in this category perhaps own a business or have a really good ‘in demand’ or professional job. Perhaps if together, you both work to afford a more enjoyable lifestyle and afford more opportunities for your children. Irrespective in terms of how you manage your affairs, your life is fairly comfortable, if busy.  You have enough money to meet your immediate needs and some more for extras.

What keeps you up at night?

One of the biggest worries of this group is actually school success, well success generally. Parents have often worked hard to get where they are and many are worried that their children will not end up with the right schooling or level of achievement to get ahead. Parents in this group often strive to give their children every kind of opportunity they can to enhance their abilities.  There is often a definitive focus on either educational achievement or excellence in sports or other skills.

Biggest Parenting Mistake 

Parents in this group have a tendency to hover.  The consequences of failure are often seen as just too severe to contemplate so parents will often try and intervene when things go wrong. This helicopter hovering is in fact what is most likely to stand in the way of their child’s success moving forward, because it creates children and eventual adults who have a hard time coping with the ups and downs of life.  Universities from coast to coast are complaining that many moms and dads from this group are having a hard time letting go of their not so little wee ones as they attempt to face the world on their own two feet.


Read up about resilience, what it is and how it develops and how crucially important it is in creating successful, fully rounded and emotionally stable adults.  Recognize that emotional resilience is critical frankly to your child’s overall success no matter what endeavour they choose. Take note that it develops young, not suddenly at 17 or 18 and what you can do about it now to make sure your children develop it early.  Read my article on how to develop resilience. Take a deep breath and let your children fail. Believe me, it’ll make them happier people who are more likely, rather than less likely to achieve and then try to stop hovering.

How income changes what parents worry about:  If your income puts you in the seriously wealthy bracket.

If you’re in this group, a lot of people want to be you. They wonder how you could possibly have any parenting issues at all.  After all, in most people’s eyes they wonder what have you to worry about. But that wouldn’t be true or fair. You have your own worries.

What keeps you up at night?

One of the main worries of this group is that their children will be de-motivated because of being born with a silver spoon in their mouths.  If mom or dad has built up a business empire, their biggest worry is that Junior will squander it and not build on the great start they’ve been given. However success in this group’s eyes doesn’t start and end with schooling.  Yes, they want their children to have a good education but when it comes to academics at the end of the the day, many are much more in the camp of it’s not what you know, it’s who you know along with of course, having a decent attitude and work ethic.

Biggest Parenting Mistake

The biggest parenting mistake of this group is to underestimate the strong headwinds they face in their parenting. It is simply so much easier to spoil these kids and parents have to work extra hard to avoid it.  If you have everything you could possibly want, it’s incumbent on you to send your children the opposite message.


Parenting in this category is all about creating an adult that has the skills and character traits necessary to make the most of the opportunity they’ve been given and to be able to thrive in the world outside of the setting in which they’ve been born.  That means teaching appreciation, empathy for others and emphasizing the idea of working for what you want by providing practical opportunities to enhance those skills.  The joys of being wealthy, such as being able to employ people to look after you are the same skills these children need to learn independently.

How income changes what parents worry about:  If you’re struggling.

If you’re part of this group then you have lot on your mind and it isn’t just about parenting. It’s about survival in general.  Of course you have the same wants and desires just like everyone else but right now they take a back seat to reality. This group has a large span from those that are struggling and just barely making it through to those that clearly aren’t.

What keeps you up at night?

The biggest issue for parents in this group is the fear and guilt that they can’t give their children the experiences and opportunities in life that those in other economic groups can.  They wonder how this will impact them and whether their children will be able to transcend that later on. Parents in this group are just trying to keep the wheels on the wagon and keep everything moving in the right direction.

Biggest Parenting Mistake  

This groups biggest parenting mistake often boils down to how parents handle worry.  Their life is full of it and being financially stressed causes conflict even when making minor decisions. These worries can nag away at parents and can cause them to lose patience and to inadvertently share with children the stress they’re under. The trouble with sharing your stress with your children is that children need to feel safe otherwise they will act up and make things worse.  


The key to making things better from a parenting standpoint is to get those worries under control. Reach out to the community, talk to people and receive support from people who are going through similar difficulties. There’s emotional strength in numbers. The more parents can shield children from what they are going through the better it will be. Simple explanations to wants are always best handled with a, ‘sorry we can’t afford it.’ That gives children the message that as a parent you have no extra money to spare but it doesn’t make them feel unsafe in a big scary world because they still have you. Never underestimate the profound impact your love and support has.

So there you go, these are just my observations of how each economic group faces their own parenting headwinds. Of course there are many more worries that each group has but having said that, each group has far more commonalities than things that separate them. That’s because when the chips are down we are all parents. We love our kids and we want what’s best for them.

Talking of resilience, would you like to know how to make your kids resilient so they can cope with the ups and downs life throws at them? Visit Annie’s parent guide to building resilience.

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