While for some children it is their fervent drive to outdo their parents that hinders their success, others face the opposite problem of diminished self-confidence. Outsiders often dismiss the rank of children of successful business families as the result of being born into prosperity and power. This can be even more true within the family business, where offspring are often resented by other workers who attribute their promotions due to politics rather than merit. Non-family workers become demotivated, feeling they cannot compete with the owner’s children. This can rapidly drain morale and productivity.
Children, too, may suspect, rightly or wrongly, that they don’t deserve what they’ve gotten, and perform poorly as a result. Even if they are treated no differently than others by astute parents, the adult children’s competence at work will be critically scrutinized by others, many of whom are eagerly waiting to see them fail. The glare of constant inspection impairs the children’s own self-esteem as they begin to doubt whether their success is based on their ability or family privilege.
Children suffering from affluenza often display character traits that are bred into their personality from the time they are able to understand the implications of extraordinary wealth. One pernicious example is the desire for instant gratification in all things, which they believe they are permitted because their money allows them to.
Who can blame them? The exceptionally rich may forget or never know what it is to wait for tables in restaurants. They are pampered with preferable treatment on airplanes and stay at luxury hotels catering to their every whim. This, combined with the subtle but pervasive message from the older generation to the effect that their wealth classifies them above others, can produce either arrogance or guilt among the children.