Did you hear about the 27-year-old man in India who plans to sue his parents for giving birth to him without his consent? He thinks it is wrong to bring children into the world because they will then live with suffering until they die. He is acting on the principle of anti-natalism which proposes that people should stop procreating and gradually phase out humanity. He believes the planet would be better off without humans in it. Since he didn’t ask to be born, he is suing his parents to pay him for the rest of his life.
Two years ago I read of a young woman in New Jersey who took her parents to court in order to require them to pay her college tuition. She left home to live with her paternal grandparents after refusing to do chores, repeatedly engaging in under-aged drinking, and failure to follow a curfew. She was legally emancipated prior to filing her law suit. She won the case based upon a 1982 ruling that states that divorced parents are legally obligated to pay for their child’s tuition. Upon an appeal, an appellate court ruled that her parents are not legally required to pay for their daughter’s education.
Both of these young adults proclaim “You owe me.” They believe they are entitled to certain privileges at the expense of their parents. A sense of entitlement is defined as “an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.”
A “gimme, gimme” attitude is more childish than mature. The parent-child relationship normally evolves over time to one of fellow adults. Most Americans believe that it is the parent’s job to prepare their children to be independent and productive adults, not to carry them financially forever. Where do you draw the line? Are you able and willing to pay for your child’s education? Or, give them a down payment on a house? And bail them out of credit card debt? Do you plan to leave them an inheritance or enjoy your own earnings in retirement? 86 percent of Americans surveyed believe they have a strong or absolute responsibility to accumulate enough money for retirement to avoid turning to family members for financial support as they age. They don’t feel entitled to burden their offspring.
Having a heightened sense of entitlement often harms relationships. Writer, Aletheia Luna addresses symptoms of entitlement complex in her article 16 Signs You Have a Sense of Entitlement Complex at lonerwolf.com. Rather than duplicate all 16 signs here, a sampling of symptoms include:
• You impose unrealistic demands on your family, children, friends, acquaintances, lovers, employees, and/or employers.
• You tend to feel sorry for yourself if things don’t work out the way you wanted.
• You believe that you deserve happiness and go to great, sometimes extreme lengths to ensure that happens, often at the expense of others.
• You tend to take, more than give, in relationships.
Gratitude is the opposite of entitlement. As we feel more entitled, our gratitude shrinks in proportion. When we feel entitled to something, there’s little need for gratitude. Rather than demand justice for what you think is rightfully yours, gratitude is more likely to bring satisfaction. Take a moment to take stock of the opportunities you’ve been given in life. As you express your gratitude you might find that people are more likely to want to give.