Seneca was born into a wealthy family. His father was a well-known writer and orator whose family immigrated from Spain into the aristocracy of the Roman empire. And, in time, Seneca would go on to earn his own fortune in politics.
So as you might expect, as a father and as a philosopher, he had some strong thoughts about raising kids amidst privilege and wealth. Because that’s no simple thing—it’s better than the opposite, of course, but it comes with its own challenges. In one essay, Seneca gives us a prescription about how to balance the success we might have (or hope to have) financially and how to keep that from spoiling our kids or sapping them of motivation.
We ought to keep him far beyond the reach of luxury, for nothing makes children more prone to anger than a soft and fond bringing-up…He to whom nothing is ever denied, will not be able to endure a rebuff, whose anxious mother always wipes away his tears, whose paedagogus is made to pay for his shortcomings. Do you not observe how a man’s anger becomes more violent as he rises in station? This shows itself especially in those who are rich and noble, when the favoring gale has roused all the most empty and trivial passions of their minds.
In short, while we want our kids’ lives to be good, we don’t want them to be too good. As Seneca also said, there is no one more unfortunate than the person who passes through life without difficulty. Because “no one can ever know what [they] are capable of.” Not even themselves.
Remember: Luctor et Emergo. There is no growth without struggle. So let them struggle. Let them know what it means to want but not always have. Let them know you love and care about them of course. Be there for them. Don’t be their everything.