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ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY IN A CHILD

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A child is like the rain, useful and harmful. It depends largely on how each is prepared for and contained. We need both to live – rain to sustain life itself and children to maintain procreation and human race. Both come through interlocking mysteries in the sense that human power hardly controls their engendering. If not, every man can call for rain and beget children at will. But many places lack rain and many couples lack children. Also, in many places, man prays rain to go away and many couples refrain from begetting children through artificial means. In those countries that have heavy downpour, man must prepare for the season and good structures must be put in place to check erosion because water must have its way. One can only have control over flood by making provisions for its way out. The same is a child. A child is a good person when it is nursed properly and given enough training to face life reality after its nonage. And it can be otherwise the other way round. William Shakespeare philosophically described a child as the father of man. Practically, a child of today and at all times is a father of tomorrow just as children are referred to as leaders of tomorrow. Although parental backgrounds may differ, the influence of both parents or either of them is mostly commanding in the child’s life. It can, therefore, transcend human comprehension for wicked parents to give birth to a saint. Training a child is a herculean task and a child is but the refection of his home. Some parents get into marriage without the proper knowledge of what responsibilities they owe their partner on one hand and their offsprings on the other hand. Others are often overcome by passion which in most cases leads to the wrong ways of approaching family matters in relation to a child’s upbringing. Some parents, even those who do not encounter problems in the search for the fruits of the womb, would spoon-feed their children, without the consideration of the future implications. They think that allowing the child to participate in domestic activities is exposing them to hardship and sufferings. They would do everything for the child and employ a nurse for him or her. They would even involve in examination malpractices or buy results for their children, knowing fully well that the child cannot defend the certificate. Reading in schools for future progress or acquiring knowledge is undoubtedly a tedious process which some parents often think to be hard on their children. Also, some parents with little means of survival would engage in menial jobs, but because it took them long time to beget a child, they treat the child as an egg. Lo, how fragile an egg is! The child grows up in this condition and develops the mentality of being entitled to all he desires. In the course of facing life realities without knowing that no condition is permanent, he is undone. He does not believe in life itself because he has not been allowed to have one of his own. He can never be a man of his own, a man of substance. And anyone around him is a slave. With this mentality, he believes he should not lack; he should always be served; he should be master and should never be disobeyed. At the end, the child may not appreciate the suffering of the parents that has made him what he may claim. There are related and interesting stories of people whose parents toiled to train. One is of a young man who was trained for academic excellence by his mother. He was exclusively provided for that purpose. After studies, he opted to look for a managerial position in a large coy. He passed the first interview. The director of the company did the last interview and made the last decision. The director discovered from the CV that the youth's academic achievements were excellent all the way. From the secondary school until the postgraduate research, he never repeated a year and he scored high. The director asked, "Did you obtain any scholarships in school?" The youth answered "none". The director asked, “Was it your father who paid for your school fees?" The youth answered, "My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees.” The director asked, “Where did your mother work?" The youth answered, "My mother worked as clothes cleaner.” The director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

The director asked, “Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?" The youth answered, "Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me. The director said, "I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother's hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.” The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings. She showed her hands to the kid. The youth cleaned his mother's hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother's hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water. This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother's hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future. After finishing the cleaning of his mother hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother. And that night, both mother and son talked for a very long time. Next morning, the youth went to the director's office. The director noticed the tears in the youth's eyes and asked: “Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?" The youth answered, “I cleaned my mother's hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes” The director asked, “Please tell me your feelings." The youth said, “First, I know now what appreciation is. Without my mother, there would not be the successful me today. Secondly, by working together and helping my mother, only I now realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done. And thirdly, I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationship.” The director said, “This is what I am looking for in the person to be my manager. I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.” Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company's performance improved tremendously. A child who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop "entitlement mentality" and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parent's or anybody’s efforts. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others. For this kind of people, who may be good academically, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel sense of achievement. He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying the kid instead? You can let your kid live in a big house, take balanced diet, learn piano, watch big screen televisions. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love them in a right way. You want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will grow gray, same as the mother of that young person. They must one day be on their own. The most important thing is that your kid should be made to learn how to appreciate effort and experience certain difficulties, as well as learn the ability to work with others to get things done. Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja. E-mail [email protected]

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