After watching the delightful English Vinglish, where the obnoxious teen traumatises her mother at every stage with the help of her equally insufferable father, I could not help empathise with the simple homemaker who is saddled with a family that feels a kind of entitlement.

The teen feels that her mother needs to be at her beck and call and the husband is not too far behind. People might argue that this was just a story, but is it? Seeing the movie, I was reminded of my very good friend whose husband feels that he is next only to God or maybe even greater than the Almighty. His constant expectation, of her was nauseating, to say the least.

The “entitlement mentality” makes one feel more deserving than others in the family. Naturally, we are having more crimes of passion if each and every person who felt thwarted feels vindicated when he resorts to crimes.

The increase in crimes of passion and the rise in the number of suicides by disillusioned lovers or by “scolded children” reflect the above feeling of prerogative. Has society been guilty of encouraging this unhealthy practice among us? Are we, in our quest for intellectual excellence, not giving sufficient importance to emotional maturity? Did we as a society make a mistake of undermining and loosening the moral fibre?

Economic liberalisation brought forth a generation which has taken many a thing for granted. We young adults too were guilty of making more money and were suitably contemptuous of old fashioned thoughts like ‘family’, ‘friends’ ‘duty,’ and ‘punishment.’ We were derisive of all ‘traditional, middle class values’ taught by our elders. Somewhere, we have been guilty of transferring the same and more to the next generation.

Today’s children and youth are habitually given what they want and hence are developing a mammoth sense of self-importance. The protectiveness with which children are dealt with makes them incapable of handling any kind of rejection.

Many children are ignorant of the parents’ effort or the sacrifice of adults in their lives. While it is not advisable to inculcate a feeling of guilt in the child for the ‘supposed sacrifice’ of the parents, it is also not right to mollycoddle the kids to such an extent that they get an exalted opinion of themselves. The other day, I witnessed a preteen authoritatively saying that her mother never enters her room or rather is ‘not allowed.’ She was not only dressed in clothes most unsuitable to her age but behaved like an adult. Would it be any wonder if she grows up to feel that her room is out of bound to guests, relatives, grandparents or that her privacy is of the utmost importance to the world at large?

The youth today and, to a large extent, almost everyone have an urge to place the self first.

‘I’ is overpowering ‘we’ and somewhere ‘I’ becomes ‘me, only me and more me.’

Right from the beginning, the adults fashion their lives to suit the baby. Because of the small family, we are not allowing the toddlers to outgrow this tendency of taking centre stage in our lives and consequently theirs. They expect their playmates to toe their line or the parents come to their rescue. This attitude persists and there is no happiness. They feel ‘entitled’ to better marks; they ‘deserve’ more and blame their ‘inability’ on the environment, teachers, peers and society. Even at work there would be a tendency to grumble and expect the world to suit your mood.

So much so, there is a growing tribe of young which prefers to remain single rather than share space with some other person! It affects the basic fibre of society, namely, the family. The grounds for divorce or separation are becoming almost farcical. The “give me my space” has almost become a youth mantra.

This mentality is not restricted to the young. The daily battle we wage on the roads is reflection of the prevalence of this ‘self’ in the way we drive. We feel a sense of entitlement when it comes to driving. We practically bully the other drivers to make way for us! Moreover, the young have role models in politicians, celebrities, businessmen and in people in every walk of life. We are on the path of self-destruction by slowly moving away from ‘being a part of the universe’ to ‘being the universe’ by ourselves!

Is everything lost? An answer to the queries, ‘Do we really like the person we see in the mirror?’ Or, ‘love apart, do we really like the person in our child?’ would help pave the way for a better society.

(The writer is Assistant Professor of Soft skills in ICICI Manipal Academy and can be reached at chandrika1306@gmail.com)

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