Disaffected children walk out on their parents and choose to live alone in the US.
Will it catch up in India too is the question being raised by a film-maker.
When parents are perceived as being unloving or uncaring, the child does seek 'divorce.' Home Alone child star Macaulay Culkin did when his father started misappropriating his money. Or when a Florida teenager moved court to be separated from his parents, because they refused to buy him a Nintendo console! But for many, it's usually lack of love and time from parents which forces them to take such extreme measures.
'Divorce' or emancipation, the legal term under American law, involves seeking a separation from parents much before the legal age. The parents' consent is a must before the court declares a child emancipated. The child, then, is responsible for his/her own welfare but cannot drink, drive or go to a nightclub — all of which have an age limit, writes Meenakshi Kumar in Times of India
Hollywood has mirrored this reality in films like Irreconciliable Differences (1984), where a young girl (Drew Barrymore) seeks a divorce from her parents and wants to be placed under the care of another person.
And while this may be unheard of in India, first-time filmmaker M J Ramanan has chosen to make a movie on it as well. Meri Bhi Suno, the story of a boy who wants a divorce from his busy, inconsiderate parents, is currently awaiting release.
It was a widely reported case involving an American teenager that first drew the filmmaker's attention to the issue, but what really convinced him to go ahead was the ''all-pervasiveness'' of the problem.
"Most working parents are not able to devote time to their children. I saw it happening with my friends and even in my own family. My nieces and nephews felt lonely as their parents were always busy. Once my sister and brother-in-law even failed to turn up at their son's annual function at school. The child kept waiting for them all through the event," recounts Ramanan.
The malaise is growing in urban India, and the filmmaker realized this when he met a judge while researching the film. "He cited various cases, including one in Kolkata where a custody battle was fought between parents and grandparents — the child wanted to live with the latter. Everybody knows the problem exists, but they don't know how to solve it," he says.
The film, he insists, doesn't blame the parents but tries to present the problem objectively. Ramanan agrees the idea of 'emancipation' is alien to Indian ethos. ''But unless we wake up to the problem, it may become a reality here as well,'' he warns.