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Author Topic: Wife and I having a discussion  (Read 5148 times)

Ruth

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2010, 08:52:03 AM »
The independence thing is a little off too.  I know a gal who's lived apart from her parents since 7th grade.  Parents work in Beijing.  Kid's hukou (did I get that right? Residence thing...) was for the small town I worked in in Liaoning.  They would have had to pay for her to go to school in BJ and this isn't a family with money.  When I met her she was 16 and had been on her own for 3 years.  Living in a dorm isn't exactly being on your own, but kids who do so handle hand washing their own clothes and managing their monthly allowance without much parental input.  The once-monthly visits home most kids in the senior middle school get weren't happening for this kid.  Emotional support via telephone is not the same as sitting around the dinner table together as a family each evening.  THAT's what I gave my kids at the same age.

Currently I tutor 2 girls in 9th grade.  They only go home on the weekends.  I see dormitory life as cold blooded, especially for kids who are only 12 years old. I see going to school 6 1/2 days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. as cold blooded.

Last year I did a stint in a private primary school.  One of the three grade 1 classes were so much more impossible to teach than the others.  I found out part way through the semester that the kids in that class lived at the school.  Six year olds with no parental contact.  Who loves them?  Who snuggles them into bed each night and reads stories to them?  Who teaches them to bake cookies standing on a stool next to Mommy working at the counter?  Who makes them feel important as they learn to set the table?  Dorm life for these kids is cold blooded in my opinion.

Different points of view from different cultures.
If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.

zero

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2010, 06:34:07 PM »
This is slightly off-base from the original post, so I apologize. But regarding the independence thing and the thing about not taking care of elders. China's social welfare system is not well-developed compared to the west. Parents see kids as an investment, because how else are said parents going to be taken care of in old age? The parents will go to great sacrifice, financial and otherwise, so that the kids can go to good schools and to university. There isn't much of this student-loan stuff, that I'm aware of.

When the kids grow up, they are willing to take care of their parents for these reasons:
-the guilt factor: "My parents sacrificed so much so that I could be where I am today ..."
-there is no one else to do it.
-intergenerational transfer of wealth is extremely efficient and important in China. In other words, parents are willing to use their life savings to fund adult kids' down payments for houses. (You didn't think they were doing it themselves on 2,500 RMB a month, did you?) An inheritance may also be in the picture.

China does have a few nursing homes. The option is not as popular as in the West. But that's not because the Chinese love their parents more. For one thing, in the U.S., nursing homes tend to be paid for by Medicaid -- that is, the government.* In China, I suspect that all or nearly all nursing home care is paid for directly out-of-pocket. Chinese families don't go for that, because that is money that could better be spent for a house, for kids' college tuition, for a car, etc.

In short, I believe that if the government were picking up the tab, many more elderly Chinese would be staying in nursing homes. In fact, if such a policy were enacted, I suspect that all nursing homes would be overflowing, and with humongous waiting lists!

*In the U.S., some people do have their money and their house taken by nursing homes or Medicaid, but others get around it by putting their assets into their children's names long before nursing home care is needed.

The Local Dialect

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2010, 06:56:12 PM »
The independence thing is a little off too.  I know a gal who's lived apart from her parents since 7th grade.  Parents work in Beijing.  Kid's hukou (did I get that right? Residence thing...) was for the small town I worked in in Liaoning.  They would have had to pay for her to go to school in BJ and this isn't a family with money.  When I met her she was 16 and had been on her own for 3 years.  Living in a dorm isn't exactly being on your own, but kids who do so handle hand washing their own clothes and managing their monthly allowance without much parental input.  The once-monthly visits home most kids in the senior middle school get weren't happening for this kid.  Emotional support via telephone is not the same as sitting around the dinner table together as a family each evening.  THAT's what I gave my kids at the same age.

Currently I tutor 2 girls in 9th grade.  They only go home on the weekends.  I see dormitory life as cold blooded, especially for kids who are only 12 years old. I see going to school 6 1/2 days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. as cold blooded.

Last year I did a stint in a private primary school.  One of the three grade 1 classes were so much more impossible to teach than the others.  I found out part way through the semester that the kids in that class lived at the school.  Six year olds with no parental contact.  Who loves them?  Who snuggles them into bed each night and reads stories to them?  Who teaches them to bake cookies standing on a stool next to Mommy working at the counter?  Who makes them feel important as they learn to set the table?  Dorm life for these kids is cold blooded in my opinion.

Different points of view from different cultures.

AMEN Ruth! My school has boarding starting at freaking kindergarten, and mandatory boarding at 1st grade. When I'm feeling uncharitable, I want to ask why these people even had children if they were just going to leave them to grow up in dorms raised by their teachers. Not that there aren't valid reasons why, but the entire school, a really expensive private school, is comprised of students boarding there from age five on. I see these kids crying at the gate on Mondays when the parents, who are almost all local to Beijing, drop them off at the school for the week. It just makes me sad.

Lotus Eater

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2010, 02:11:11 AM »
I often feel that the 'family closeness' thing is the most incredible myth here. 

Case 1:  Teacher here has two homes - 15 minutes apart.  She and her husband live in the fancy apartment off campus.  His parents live in the less fancy one on campus - with teacher's 5 year old son.  She sees him at dinner time and then she and her husband go home.  These holidays she travelled in Sth Asia, with friends.  Her teaching hours aren't so onerous that she couldn't care for her child herself.  But...

Case 2:  Friend runs a business with his wife in the business.  He spends most of his time in Wuxi, she is here in Xi'an.  Their baby is looked after by grandparents elsewhere.  He sees the child at most two or three times a year.  Because he has a Singaporean passport he qualifies as 'foreign' and is planning on having another child.  Why?  He doesn't see this one and she was so important to him that he didn't bother to tell me that she had been born (we were both in Beijing at the time it happened - another friend told me!).

Case 3:  Friend and his wife have a daughter.  Friend spent the 1st 4 years of her life in Germany, returned, his wife left almost immediately for the US to study for 12 months, returned for one year and is now in Canada and doesn't want to return.  Friend says he will send the daughter (who is being cared for by grandparents) to Canada to his wife can look after her.

So many of my students have told me that from a very young age they have only seen their parents at for a few days at Spring Festival. 

It seems to me that many Chinese families see earning money to eventually pass on to your child is love. 

xwarrior

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2010, 06:13:45 AM »
Quote
'family closeness' thing is the most incredible myth here.

I totally agree with Lotus Eater.

So many parents here:
- have handed over their role to grandparents or boarding school
- use the excuse of job/further education to allow them to carry on with life as they like it (money, dinners, entertainment, other relationships)

Other parents:
- do not seem to realise that in the drive to ensure their children have everything they are sacrificing the one thing children generally desire ... a parent at home

While there are some really caring parents out there I often wonder why the majority bothered to have children. Then I think of a possible answer - to have someone who 'can look after me when I get old'. It is another example of the "I/me/mine" philosophy of the real China.       





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Raoul F. Duke

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2010, 07:13:28 AM »
It seems to me that many Chinese families see earning money to eventually pass on to your child is love.

And a retirement plan!
Your child will get fabulously educated, then march out and make a ton of money, and be your support in your old age. bfbfbfbfbf
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Lotus Eater

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2010, 07:48:47 AM »
I agree that that is the general expectation - now.  But with young people moving to Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing etc, for work, or overseas, then I think in the future this may change.

Raoul F. Duke

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2010, 08:56:30 AM »
Yep, it might in the future. mmmmmmmmmm
"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

latefordinner

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2010, 01:00:28 PM »
We're only beginning to see it, but looking at the uni and college grads I know, I think it is changing already. The parents who've put their kids on the treadmill young may be the last to see it, but Harry Chapin's Cats in the Cradle is one song all my students have understood.

Lotus Eater

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2010, 01:06:46 PM »
Yes - the iron rice bowl has disappeared, replaced with the 'adult child' rice bowl, which will rapidly disappear. 

The elderly are only going to see their children occasionally, only going to get the occasional shot of money coming into their pockets.  Particularly as the cost of living rises in the major cities, rents/housing prices increase - the young won't be able to afford to look after the old - especially two sets of them.


Raoul F. Duke

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2010, 11:42:03 PM »
But relevance to right now: virtually nil. kkkkkkkkkk
"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

Ruth

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Re: Wife and I having a discussion
« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2010, 12:14:14 AM »
We're only beginning to see it, but looking at the uni and college grads I know, I think it is changing already. The parents who've put their kids on the treadmill young may be the last to see it, but Harry Chapin's Cats in the Cradle is one song all my students have understood.
I use this song to generate discussion in almost every oral class I teach.  Interesting difference in perspective between uni students and adult students at a training center.  The uni students have better English skills, so perhaps are expressing themselves better.  From the uni students I usually get the kinds of comments I expect: time together is important, kid missed his dad, "It makes me want to call my mother."  The adults - some of whom have children living with grandparents in faraway provinces while they are in Dongguan working - said Dad did what he had to do in order to support his family.  Hard for them, and they see it as love.  
If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.