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Archive for March 6th, 2008

        Choking on the silver spoon is the title i chose for this post after hearing for years about children born to weathy parents who continue to struggle in their lives. 

         While those who are living in the category of a “have not” existence often wonder how different life would be if they were included in the exclusive membership of those who  “have (and, have “it” in a big way)”.   I am talking about wealth, privilege, and status beyond the average person’s ability to achieve.

        How often do we hear stories of children who have been born to the ultra rich who seem to appear out of control; in legal trouble, lonely, but on a continual rotation of personal relationships, lost in addictions, at a loss for a professional direction of their own, suspended from one educational academy after another or just unmotivated to do something positive in the world?

         Have you ever heard of the “poor little rich (boy or girl)” phrase?  A few years ago, there was a big media flap over the friction in the family of Tori Spelling when her father died.  Many of the issues were there before her father died but much of it was complicated by money issues after he passed away.

           It seems that Tori has now written a  book talking about the idea of being raised in a family of privilege and continuing to live that way without the advantage of having the finances to back it up, once she became an adult out on her own. It supposedly talks about her struggles and what she has learned; and, how she is applying that knowledge in her marriage and in parenting her own young family.

            Then, i remember many years ago a woman by the name of Christina Onassis who lived a colorful and lonely life.  She went through four marriages.  She lost all of her family members in a 24 month period.  She was lonely.  She was starved for a connected, affectionate relationship…yet she had tons of money.  She gave birth to one child, Athina.  Who, upon Christina’s death, became one of the richest children in the world.  We don’t hear much about her these days.  She has tried to stay out of the limelight.  A few years ago there was some publicity about a romance she had with an older man; there was speculation about that relationship.  She later married him. 

         You have to wonder what kind of pressure is put upon a child who is born to that kind of wealth to live a successful, healthy, and an emotionally fulfilling life.  How do they grow and mature, while at the same time develop the ability to discover who is in their lives for the right reasons?  How do they know if they are adored because of who they really are or because of what they “have”?

         How does a child live up to expectations of their family members and the public when they have to live in the shadow of a well-known parent who is enormously blessed financially?  How do they carve out a path of their own?  It surely must not be easy.

         I think about people like Christian Brando the son of the famous (and rich) Marlon Brando.  He alledgedly lived a life surrounded by privilege and neglect and turmoil.  He at times was accused of murder, spousal abuse, patternity claims, and drug and alcohol abuse.  He struggled in all areas; only to have gotten to a point where others claim he was making serious attempts to straighten out his life.  He died a short time ago before he was able to realize his full potential.

          Then this week, word comes down that little Danilyn Smith the 18month old daughter of Anna Nicole Smith and Larry Birkhead is the sole legal heir of Anna’s present and (future depending on the outcome of legal proceedings from Anna’s previous marriage to billionaire J. Howard Marshall) fortune.  Having money, alone, doesn’t guarantee happiness.

           Some of the present fortune has been put in trust and Danilyn’s father and Howard K. Stern (Anna’s lawyer and lover) have been put in charge of administering that trust fund.  As she grows into a teenager and into a young adult this judgement of being a sole heir of possible millions of dollars will help to shape and form what kind of a life she will have. 

             It makes a person wonder whether the silver spoon will be a blessing or a curse in her life.  It would be a wonderful thing if those who raise her will also influence her personal growth to be strenthened by good character, good decision making and have a strong sense of boundaries that are guided by common sense.  Maybe, just maybe this young person can grow up in a relatively normal environment and turn the silver spoon into something from which good things can grow. 

        

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