Frank Bruni wrote a thoughtful piece about teen suicide and excessive pressure to achieve. Suicide isn't a simple matter of excessive pressure, but this observation is interesting.
Adam Strassberg, a psychiatrist and the father of two Palo Alto teenagers, wrote that while many Palo Alto parents are “wealthy and secure beyond imagining,” they’re consumed by fear of losing that perch or failing to bequeath it to their kids. “Maintaining and advancing insidiously high educational standards in our children is a way to soothe this anxiety,” he said.
He made these observations apart from the suicides, for which, he emphasized, “There is no single cause.” He recommended lightening children’s schedules, limiting the number of times that they take the SAT, lessening the message that it’s Stanford or bust.
“I will never be neutral on this issue,” he wrote. “The ‘Koala Dad’ is the far better parent than the ‘Tiger Mom.’ ”
Many wealthy parents are terrified that their kids will slip and lose their place at the top of the food chain. Note, I use the term 'food chain' intentionally because I believe that the intense competition at the top can trigger predatory death anxiety. It's no accident that Tiger Mom chose that name to describe herself and her child-rearing. She's a tiger and wants to raise tigers. The thought of raising anything else is terrifying.
I suppose that for parents who've grown accustomed to the security of vast resources, the possibility that their kid will be an average kid can raise fears that the kid will be eaten alive by the world. That's not an entirely baseless fear given that the world does eat many people alive, but as Strassberg also suggests, that fear for the kid's fate can be bound up with the parents' own anxiety about losing their own place in the food chain.
Perhaps such fear is magnified for parents who've built vast wealth on their own, as opposed to those who are backed by the security of great inherited wealth. The former may be more keenly attuned to the dangers of the jungle, and so fear more for themselves and their children, especially if those children don't seem voraciously hungry and prepared to defend their place at the top.