Only children in the US have a bad rap. They receive all the love and attention of both parents and let's just call it, they have a reputation for being spoiled rotten. In China, you will encounter this same type of phenomena. In China, however, you have a well-known policy to take the blame. The infamous one-child policy. Although the infamous one-child policy was relaxed in 2013 and ended in 2015, it was around for 35 years! Despite the fact, couples are allowed to have 2 children now (aptly named the two-child policy), it is well ingrained in the culture to have 1 child. Throw in the fact that education isn't cheap either and we have a perfect storm. Let's not forget about competition. Let's think about this: 1.379 BILLION people in China, 236.5 MILLION of them are under 14. That means when your kid grows up and is competing with others for jobs, to be in the top 10% is going to have to be better than 212.8 MILLION other kids. This is very generalized math but gooooolllleee that's a lot of pressure. In my mind, i'm thinking these kids need to have all the fun and freedom they can possibly have before they have to buckle down. I can see a stand-up comic not talking about squeezing a whole childhood in just 6 years. So ok, moving on we can understand why raising a child might be difficult in China.
Now here is where I alert you to some things that will puzzle you...Children (I literally mean kids, some big ones too) being pushed around in strollers, children (again some big ones too) being fed bite by bite by mama, spectacular tantrums over toys/sweets and other desirable items, and more. I would expect what you see at home just turned up several pretty substantial notches. Ok so you probably want an idea of what we are talking about here:
Two children who were described as dancing around like tiny bulls in a china shop broke a valuable art piece at the Shanghai Museum of Glass. Looks pretty common to me. My suggestion is to watch the video and try not to get worked up, its good practice. Click here to watch.
Another interesting story is that of a 23-year-old kid who was found loitering at a bank because "My parents stopped supporting me because I didn't take their advice. They even cut off my allowance, so I had to come here for work," Chen said to the police. He then asked the officer if he could help him get some dinner. Click here to read the story. (For maximum comfort while shaking your head in disbelief please apply neck brace now.)
There is a video is going viral right on China's 微博 weibo (social media app similar to Twitter) of a "Little-brat" urinating on an elevator panel. In a particularly interesting lightning speed act of vengeance, the elevator breaks down due to electrical problems trapping the boy inside. See the full article here.
If you are like me you will be immersed in Chinese culture 24/6.5 (A half day is always reserved for brunch with expat buddies but that's another blog). You are going to have some long days and be physically emotionally exhausted. It is very easy and tempting to judge and replay these unbelievable moments of raucous behavior over and over in your head trying to make sense of it. Don't bother.
Now I LOVE China, but I promised to give you the real deal. Sometimes you just have to change your perspective to be able to make peace with your surroundings so try to focus on the parent who loves their precious little angel and just wants them to be happy. You can also focus on the incredibly well-behaved children you see in their adorable school uniforms and jumpsuits eager to practice a little English with you. If that does not work, just go for a foot massage, that fixes everything!
If you find this subject fascinating:
- Highlighting the effects of the one-child policy
- A lighter take on the little emperor phenomenon
- Excellent article from the viewpoint of a Chinese woman.
What do you think about the affect of the One-Child Policy?