Wednesday, December 17, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Price of Privilege author comes to Davis

By
January 14, 2011 |

When Bay Area psychologist and author Madeline Levine appears at Freeborn Hall later this month for a lecture sponsored by the Davis school district and UC Davis, shell be continuing a community dialogue that began several months ago with the screening of Race to Nowhere.

That film, which drew an audience of more than 550 to University Covenant Church, depicted adolescents struggling under the weight of school, homework, athletics and other extracurricular activities, on top of the pressure to get into a good college that some say begins as early as elementary school.

Parents and students interviewed in the film described eating disorders, substance abuse, insomnia, cheating and emotional breakdowns resulting from the stress.

Its been a big year for the low-budget documentary by first-time filmmaker Vicki Abeles, whose initial screenings in the Bay Area have expanded nationwide and around the world.

But before there was Race to Nowhere, there was Levines ground-breaking book, The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids.

Levines book, published four years ago, drew on her many years of experience treating troubled adolescents in Marin County. Her contention: Materialism, the pressure to achieve, perfectionism and disconnection have contributed to epidemic rates of depression, substance abuse and anxiety disorders among adolescents in affluent, well-educated communities.

The book quickly become a New York Times bestseller, and Levine has been a highly sought-after speaker ever since.

She will be the first of two well-known child development experts coming to Davis in the next two months. Following Levines appearance at Freeborn Hall on Friday, Jan. 28, will be a presentation by Ashley Merryman, co-author of the bestseller Nurtureshock, at the Brunelle Performance Hall on Saturday, Feb. 12. The latter will include a panel discussion moderated by Pam Mari, the school districts director of student services.

Both events, which are free and open to the public, are presented by the Davis K-6 Community-Wide Parent Education Committee with funding and support from Davis PTAs and PTOs, as well as the school district itself, UCD and local businesses.

We booked these two best-selling authors because our committee believed they had excellent suggestions, theories and ideas for how to develop a healthy, well-balanced child, said parent Jodi Liederman, co-chair of the K-6 committee.

For her part, Levine said those suggestions and ideas grew out of her alarm at what she was seeing in her patients and hearing about from colleagues in similar communities around the country: The highest rates of depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, somatic complaints and unhappiness of any group of children in this country.

Is there something about such factors as privilege, high levels of parental income, education, involvement and expectations, she asked, that can combine to have a toxic rather than the expected protective effect on children?

Levines research led her to conclude that a culture of affluence that encourages materialism and competition and creates intense achievement pressure on kids is to blame.

Kids look fine, but theyre not, she said in an interview last week.

She cited the enormous amount of time many kids spend on athletics, homework and other extracurricular activities, and said, nobody can keep up with that level of stress and lack of sleep and repetitive work. They cant play and hang out with family and friends and do all the things that we need for healthy development and social skills.

Its important to understand that unless you have emotionally healthy kids, she added, it doesnt matter where they go to school or what their grades are& they are not going to have a successful life.

In her book, Levine urges a change in the parenting paradigm.

Raising children has come to look more and more like a business endeavor and less and less like an endeavor of the heart, she writes. We are overly concerned with the bottom line, with how our children do rather than with who are children are.

When the book was first published, Levine expected some negative reaction.

I assumed there would be a fair amount of blowback and denial and anger, she said last week. But there was none. The book was published four years ago and people were just starting to see this in almost every community. Suicide, substance abuse, self-mutilation & everything was going up. It was a perfect storm. The first three years I was speaking nonstop. People were anxious to hear what was happening.

Locally, many parents took notice.

Davis parent Patricia Price, for one, first read The Price of Privilege several years ago and said she definitely sees the issues Levine describes going on in Davis.

Certainly with all of the pressure to get into GATE programs, she said, and the kids with substance abuse problems.

Price, who has been involved in organizing parent education programs for the past few years, said she particularly appreciates Levines suggestions for how to improve things.

I find that shes sensitive to the needs of parents, Price said. Its not all about, Your parenting is bad, its more about how everybody brings their own stuff into a family and you need to work out how to parent around that.

She makes it clear that there is nothing inherently wrong in the goals we have, Price added, but it might be useful to broaden the definition of success, and not make it so performance-based.

Levine said schools and communities are already making changes, many with the help of Challenge Success, a program she co-founded at the Stanford University School of Education.

According to their website, The Challenge Success program addresses the concern that adolescents often compromise their mental and physical health, integrity and engagement in learning as they contend with performance pressure in and out of school. We challenge the conventional, high-pressure, and narrow path to success and offer practical alternatives to pursue a broader definition of success.

Challenge Success is working with more than 100 schools, Levine said, providing guidance and support.

We are absolutely overwhelmed by the number of schools that want us to come in, she added. There are tremendous changes going on.

Learn more at http://www.challengesuccess.org.

Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at (530) 747-8051 or aternus@davisenterprise.net. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Supervisors remove Saylor from First 5 Yolo Commission

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

     
    GPAS and test scores up for UCD’s newest undergrads

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A1

     
    Million Cat Challenge aims to rescue shelter felines

    By Pat Bailey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Everest visit fulfills judge’s lifelong dream

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    U.S., Cuba seek to normalize relations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Water officials fret over rain’s effects

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Bob Dunning: Not enough hours in the month

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Fatal Capay crash leads to driver’s arrest

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Yolo Crisis Nursery in full swing

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Creative women share food, friendship

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Donate to STEAC at Original Steve’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Beer and film tour boosts bike group’s coffers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Overeaters get support at meetings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Fibro Friends will update their journals

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Input sought on county’s facility needs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Traditional carols service is Saturday at St. Martin’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Have coffee with the mayor on Friday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Stockings brighten holidays for special kids

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Evening tai chi classes start Jan. 6

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Name Droppers: Law prof earns peace prize for nonfiction

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Community menorah lighting set Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Latest immunization data shows little improvement locally

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A5

    School board will vote on repairs, new portables

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A6

     
    Study: National monument could boost local economy

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Round up at the registers for Patwin

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Parent/toddler art and music program offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Libraries will be closed around the holidays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Cloudy — yet safe — tap water adds to negative health effects

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Come Worship with Us

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Forum

    This ought to teach her love

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Language failed me that night, but not now

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A8

    Steve Sack cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

     
    Grand jury function clarified

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Defying Western academic norms

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Boycotters are our future profs

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Many thanks to The Avid Reader

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Sports

     
    UCD reveals a challenging softball schedule

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Tumey talks about state of Aggie athletics, where they’re headed

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Davis gets Rio Linda as Curry Invitational starts Thursday

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Westbrook, Durant lead Thunder past Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Former Aggie Descalso inks deal with Colorado

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    Some vegetables just can’t be beet

    By Julie Cross | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6