Entitlement and The New Rules of Parenting

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the DYKWIA syndrome; people who keep going around shouting “Do you know who I am?”, especially when they seem to be ignored or poorly served, trying to throw their weight around in an attempt to get ahead of others next to them, to get better and superior service.
There were quite a few interesting comments that readers came up with as responses to this question.
“I’m sorry, but is there a problem? Do you need help to find out who you are?”
“From your behavior, I definitely know who you are. If only you knew that as well.”
“Do you want me to ask your mother”?
All of this of course sounds a little funny and trite at present, but a recent quick trip abroad, brought this into significant focus. Among the various reasons that one can think of for people behaving like DWKWIAs, is the fact that they often feel “entitled”. Entitlement implies a state where an individual truly believes that he or she is God’s gift to mankind and needs to be treated in a special manner, with kid gloves, on an elevated pedestal.
It is this entitlement that plagues families that are very successful and have money that will last over multiple lifetimes. The subsequent generations often do not understand the value of the hard work that went into creating this success and grow up believing that this is a natural entitlement. They have everything they could ever need and are so privileged compared to the rest of the world, that they actually believe that they belong to the “homo superior” tribe.
The affliction of entitlement is also often seen in self-made individuals, specifically in those who have made it very big and very rich, very fast, especially if they have come from extremely underprivileged backgrounds with no yardsticks of middle-class behavior for comparison. They then try and emulate the other entitled people around them with disastrous results.
And then is the last group of the “powerful” that includes ministers, CEOs of large companies, and even celebrities, who also start believing that they are truly special as compared to the other “ordinary” people around them.
Many of us are not as rich and powerful, but still belong to the middle and upper middle classes that given the poor circumstances that 80% of the world finds itself in, can still lead to a sense of entitlement, whether in India or abroad. And how to prevent our children from picking up even small slices of the “entitlement pie” can be quite a challenge.
This is a question that I discussed constantly for the last 5 days during a whirlwind trip through the US, with at least four sets of friends, all of whom are highly successful professionals, but with strong middle-class Indian backgrounds, now at the peak of their careers with plush houses and good money. One of the risks in such situations, is that the children start believing that their current lifestyle is routine; access to toys, computers, televisions, comfortable trips abroad, occasional business class travel, etc. The constant struggle then is to make sure that they learn that none of this is an entitlement, that it doesn’t come free and needs a lot of hard work to attain.
This feeling of entitlement, especially in children, can also often lead to reduced motivation and a lack of “fire-in-the-belly”, which given our competitive world can actually then turn out to be quite a disadvantage.
How do you’ll deal with these issues?

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