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Given the research on adverse childhood experiences, there's likely a subtler advantage too, for founders who were raised in more stable and secure environments. Growing up under greater pressure (violence, abuse, trauma) leaves you less resilient, more risk averse, more at risk. I'm not saying wealthy families don't have this, or that poor families can't be stable and secure. But on average it probably makes a difference. Call it an emotional safety net.





That's a great point. I can only speak for myself here, but I can 100% confirm that having been raised in a loving, secure, and stable home has probably been the greatest contributing factor to my career success and having a major inclination in life towards optimism.

The gratitude towards my parents alone has driven me to push myself harder in my career.


Maybe the best way to look at this kind of environment is that it's a different form of wealth. Correlated with money, in the sense that poverty brings stress and often many forms of brutality, but definitely not identical with it.

> Maybe the best way to look at this kind of environment is that it's a different form of wealth.

Absolutely love how that was phrased. I couldn't agree more.


I like this a lot too. And, turning it around, a big motivation to gain wealth for many people is exactly because it's a means to provide that environment for their children.

I would say I had a great childhood in general, but also with some major stress factors—I feel I can safely say that those stressors don’t leave you on their own so organically. And that kind of stress, even if it’s not conscious all of the time, can colour one’s perspective in an impactful way. Sometimes for better, funny enough—but also for worse in others.

Absolutely. It's impossible to bring yourself to take risks and leave your comfort zone if the outside world is a terrifying and malicious place.

What I personally experience is that whenever I'm in a verbal fight with my SO (for example), I'm physiologically ready to physically fight (though I never actually fight, I'm simply hyper aware and prepared for it, it's an automatic thing).

I've learned that there are people who don't have this response, they simply keep it on an emotional level. These people also never experienced or saw any physical fight during childhood and were never really bullied.

I saw fights pretty much daily as a kid and experienced them at least once per month, winning about 50% of them. So I've experienced both sides quite a bit.

I've noticed that kids who fought daily have this much more in their physiology than I do.


Yeah I'm almost the exact opposite. I did a lot of martial arts when I was younger but never had any actual fights. Not serious ones. By the time I reached adulthood I had no idea how to act in either verbal or physical fights and was avoidant of confrontation. It's hard work but I'm gradually getting the hang of being present and holding my own in tough conversations. It's still very rare for me to get angry rather than just irritated, defensive or passive aggressive. When I do get angry it simmers in the background without any outlet, and either dies away or eventually explodes in a weird, unexpected way.

I was thinking more about people who grow up with very little, i.e. aren't sure if their parents are going to put food on the table that day. If you start out like that but manage to get a steady job etc..., I think it can be much harder to take risks like changing career or being assertive in certain situations.


I wouldn’t say that’s my experience, though I’m sure that’s true. I’m referring more to the stresses imbued to a family from something like lack of money.

It’s more of an internal preservation thing than a fear of externalities.


If it was measured as part of GDP our priorities might be different (better).

Gross Domestic Parenthood?

Nice ;)

Exactly same here and really grateful to be so lucky, especially when I compare with my less privileged friends.

It is a factor often missed in outcomes and sometimes wrongly attributed to persistence.

It is always easy to be persistent without any economic pressure or financial liabilities, even more so when your family ensures that for you.


Incidentally, I just got back from the annual checkup with my 7yo, and the doctor mentioned that the strongest indicator of kids staying on a good path through adolescence is whether they regularly have dinner together as a family or not. That surprisingly exceeds any other socio-economic demographic indicator.

I’ve thought about this metric, a lot. There is no doubt that having family dinner has a lot of benefits. But I can help but ask myself - is family dinner a silver bullet, or is it that families who are holistically “doing it right” also make family dinner a priority?

I have a theory on this and can speak from my experience.

The problem I think with NOT eating together is that it sews disharmony in the machinery of the household.

If everyone DOES eat together all the work related to it happens together as somewhat of a team. You do the thing once. Everyone is in a shared state of being. Specifically being satisfied in appetite and social interaction and ready to do there own thing after.

Otherwise Billy is hungry at a different time than Sandy and Sara wasn't hungry until it was time for bed. Dishes have to be re done for each person. Billy made a better dinner for himself and left none for his sister. Someone ate in the bedroom and left a glass of milk out over night and mom was angry in the morning...

I am rambling and maybe it's obvious but ultimately I don't think it's just the act of eating together I think it's the reduced friction and increased cohesion of the household that shared dinner causes.

To answer your question, Maybe family dinner forces you to be "doing it right" just by the act of having the family dinner.


I also wonder about whether there is a quality criterion there or is quantity all that's needed. For example if most dinners consist primarily of yelling at kids to sit down, eat vegetables, quit playing with food, just hurry up and swallow it, small bites, not that small, no poop talk at the table, inside voice, quit dropping your spoon, feet off the table, no kicking, don't annoy your sister, STOP SHOUTING.... Does that count?

Actually, almost definitely yes! Those things you mentioned, despite being friction areas, are actually loaded with all kinds of cultural and class norms, and the fact that you have parents who care enough and are around enough to be able to set those boundaries is a major selection criterion for success in other areas.

That's not to say you can't screw it up. If family dinners are spent in silence with the kids praying they get through the dinner without setting dad off again and watching him beat their mom to a pulp, or hoping that they don't get sexually abused later that night by one of their family members, etc. Then yes, maybe there are some quality issues, but I'd argue even in that extreme case, it might still be a positive indicator against the base cases of abuse without that element.

I was a paramedic. There is a massive fraction of society with upbringings like you wouldn't imagine. That's what you're up against. When people say they have a dysfunctional family, it's often pretty mundane. Especially compared to people in that class that didn't realize until they were an adult that things like getting raped by all of their mom's boyfriend's isn't a normal thing everyone deals with as soon as they start puberty.


That sounds outright terrible. Yes, it's not as bad as being beaten or raped (as mentioned by Enginerrrd in a sibling comment), but that's a really low bar.

I see that spending 30/45 minutes as a family is very important for communication. It helps understand daily life with its joys, issues, milestones. It helps bring peace in the family, and emotional support as well as practical planning. It helps to know each other. It's a no pressure situation, whoever wants to talk can talk, it's the best way to open up.

I've done it all my life, as a child and a parent, I have no idea why people would not want to enforce this.


This is a question of the causality between the family dinners and the socio-economic indicators of a kid. Just like most of similar questions, it is healthy not to assume causality until proven there is.

IMO, having regular family dinners is just one of many characteristics of stable and healthy families.


This is probably related to the general 'people bond over a shared meal' thing.

As you have more meals together, you are (they bond to you) and feel (you bond to them) more loved by the other people at the table.


Damn this hits too close to home.

>> Growing up under greater pressure (violence, abuse, trauma) leaves you less resilient, more risk averse, more at risk.

Speaking from personal experience, I have to disagree. I was raised in Baghdad by a single parent, my mother. We lived through three major wars, almost never had a steady income till after 2004 when I was 19 and started working for the US military as an interpreter. I believe growing up under great pressure (and violence) has made me more resilient and increased my appetite for risk.


Absolutely that can happen as well. But the research on adverse childhood experiences is pretty compelling. Sorry I don't have links handy.

Also, if your relationship with your mother was strong, that counts for a lot. I'm glad you survived and are thriving!


Possibly interesting, a behaviour I used to see from people with "bad" upbringings is a desire (or requirement) for chaos.

eg they get their life on track, but it seems to be "too boring" (or similar) for them, so they start creating chaos with the people around them to get things "back to normal"


N=1 “ What doesn't kill them doesn't make them stronger: Questioning our current notions of resilience.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/29254696/

Right. However, I think the study you're referencing is mainly concerned with parental and physical abuse.

This is somewhat of an aside, but it's been interesting watching the constant debate about the direction of causality between financial and emotional stability in a family.

I think when I was younger I tended to see financial success and stability as a downstream effect of other factors, but I can't help but now see that viewpoint as naive. Economic pressure alone is sufficient to create severe emotional stress and instability (which probably creates a feedback loop that makes it even harder to recover from).


I've seen this personally. I happen to know people from all backgrounds in The Netherlands. While I myself am middle class, I know people who almost died from hunger (in The Netherlands, yes) up until people who know the king and prime minister in a professional setting. Let's just say I have a diverse family and group of friends.

My conclusion is: when privilege is applied well, there is no competing it. And the stable and secure environment that you're talking about plays a role in that. As I've noticed that I'm lacking it a bit (just a bit) and I am seeing its effect. The issue is that this type of stuff is mostly automatic behavior, so it's hard to flush out.


This is really related to the audiobook I'm currently listening to (Reboot) and how this CEO coach works through the childhood problems of different C-level executives like he had to do himself first.

Imagine not having to deal with that during entrepreneurship, without the issue wealth of contacts and money, what an advantage it is.

Sure, you can have more grit if you come from a more constrained background, but I would not know what I would choose between the two.


Pressure can also make diamonds and I know a lot of people who have become incredibly driven and successful precisely because of what they went through, while others who have had it easier tended to coast through life.

I don't think it is possible to separate out all the individual parts that go into making someone driven and successful, especially not with only anecdotal data

In that case then both perspectives are equally true and false.

They aren't equally true and false... the truth value is just unknown

Reminds me of the line "The sun can either come up in the morning or it doesn't. Therefore there is a 50% chance the sun will come up tomorrow"

I see privilege as both a head start and a multiplier to your individual effort. People who put in no effort will still end up nowhere unless they have an absolutely enormous amount of privilege that allows them to succeed on a head start alone.

Someone with little privileged who puts in a huge amount of effort can overtake someone with a high privilege who puts in a normal amount of effort.


Sure, same goes with luck, skill, natural abilities, etc. It's all an outcome from several major inputs.

> Growing up under greater pressure (violence, abuse, trauma) leaves you less resilient

Is this a thing? I thought the common wisdom was that you gain resilience once you get past hardships, not lose it.


It's possible for past hardships to leave you emotionally messed up for years, which could make it harder for you to deal with future hardship.

I don't think there's a hard rule on this, and it depends on the mentality of the individual. It's possible for people from rich and poor backgrounds alike to be resilient.

But I do think emotional security helps you deal with challenges in life. It's not the only thing and it's possible there's other ways of dealing with it. But growing up in a secure environment makes a difference (note, this doesn't necessarily mean rich. It means stable. If you're rich, but a close family member dies when you're young or some other hardship occurs, you can still be emotionally hurt despite having an otherwise secure environment -- that's why it's a bad idea to judge people on their backgrounds, you never know the full picture)


There are different levels of hardships. Having to work hard and sometimes having less to eat or winning some easy fights with bullies may make you more resilient. Being mugged every month, beaten and abused by parents every week may break you.

I don’t think it’s possible to make any causative statements about complicated, undefinable terms such as resilience and hardship.



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