The pitfalls of an unhealthy dose of self-entitlement

But how much say should we have over how others bring up their children?


Ambica Sachin

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Published: Wed 20 Jan 2021, 10:22 PM

“If you don’t bring up your children well, they will become a liability to society tomorrow.” As the portly gentleman made this pontifical observation, following a chance comment from another guest that they had no control over their seemingly ‘wayward’ ward, my instant reaction was, “How rude.” Parenting is a fine balancing act between the basic art of bringing up a hapless babe whose every physical need has to be monitored and acquiesced to 24/7 and the more complex process of inculcating the right values which will hopefully mould them into happy, resilient, positive-minded creatures who will then go forth and spread good cheer in society.

But how much say should we have over how others bring up their children? Are we our brothers’ keepers? It’s very well to chastise our niece or nephew or a friend’s child because we feel as invested in their well-being and good behaviour as the immediate set of parents. But where do we draw the line? A recent study on modern parenting throws up the thought-provoking query as to whether today’s kids are growing up with a discomforting sense of entitlement that could prove detrimental for their mental health in the long run, leave aside the pernicious effect on society. Are today’s parents responsible for inculcating a ‘me first’ attitude in their offspring which often results in a ‘grab and gloat’ practice when they are out and about with their peers? Whether it is the garrulous kid, bent on interrupting everyone during a home-schooling session, not mindful of their turn, or the one who wants his two bits heard during an adult conversation, children need their spirits to be nurtured and not stifled at an age where they are developing their own little personalities.

A sense of entitlement is not necessarily a bad quality to possess in a world where meritocracy is increasingly being sidelined by the razzmatazz where appearances and pitch have become the byword for success.

Management coaches would have us believe that “we don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are”. Our perception of ourselves impacts how we project ourselves and believe the world to view us. But in today’s world if you have to make others believe in you and your potential, you have to “fake it till you make it”. Whether by constant reiteration or by mirroring the success model of your idol, many of us are led to believe that you can be perceived to be as successful as you believe yourself to be.

Passion can get you ahead in life we’ve learnt from movies and books and stories of underdogs we all love to lap up; so even if you don’t have the academic qualification for that dream job, there’s nothing stopping you from applying and walking into the interview like you own the place, is there?

But the problem arises when empowered by self-delusion, narcissism sets in (Donald Trump, anyone?) and, you stop questioning yourself and blindly buy into your own story. Hilaria Baldwin’s Spanish accent and heritage story is one such example. She has probably spent so much energy propagating the story, that when caught out, she finds it difficult to even accept let alone acknowledge the depth of her duplicity.

Indian journalist Nidhi Razdan went all out to admit she was “stupid” when she resigned from her high-profile job with a local television channel under the assumption she had been headhunted to work as an Associate Professor at the prestigious Harvard University in the US. A lot has been said in the aftermath of the phishing scandal that has rocked Indian media — how could a journalist with no PhD or suitable academic credentials be so easily taken in by such an incredulous offer. Didn’t she read the fine print? Why was she in such a rush to announce to the whole world that she was part of the faculty of the university even before taking on any teaching assignments?

Why would a veteran journalist whose first instinct should have been to question every source be so gullible as to believe she deserved to be courted by one of the world’s foremost academic institutions? Lesser mortals might have questioned their own worth, but not her.

Perhaps it is this same sense of entitlement which makes many believe that even if they don’t have the requisite qualifications for a job, if the world deems them suitable for the position, who are they to question it. After all, the world has taught us for long that merit alone does not get us ahead in life. Sometimes the universe just conspires to give us what we have dreamt of and obsessed over for a long time. But that does not mean we stop questioning or let that sense of entitlement get the better of ourselves. In today’s cutthroat world, it is an absolute necessity to have a healthy amount of self-esteem in order to survive. But it is equally important to remember that there’s nothing more insufferable than a know-it-all who doesn’t even know himself.

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