Independence 101

Evidently, I wouldn’t make it as a Chinese parent.  I expect my children to be far too independent.

Even in a time when we hear constantly about helicopter parenting and the news seems filled with examples of teens and even young adults unwilling to take responsibility for their actions, the Chinese teachers we host each year as part of our school’s exchange partnership continue to comment about the independence of my children and American children in general.

A few of the things our current houseguest found amazing

  • DD2 made blueberry muffins (from a mix, though I didn’t rat her out) by herself.
  • Soccer Boy made himself breakfast and left to catch the bus without my help.
  • Soccer Boy cleaned his room in preparation for her visit.
  • DD1 did her own laundry.
  • I did not insist that the children eat all of their vegetables at dinner.
  • DD2 did her own makeup and hair for her dance competition yesterday.

While I readily admit I take this type of thing completely for granted, these tasks appear to be outside the realm of expectation for children and teens in China. Mothers, and sometimes grandmothers who live with their extended families, take care of such things.  I find this interesting on many levels, not the least of which is the general valuing of independence in American society as compared to the Communist system in China.  The rugged individualism that garners admiration here can’t be tolerated in a place where it’s important to go along to get along. And, of course, the influence of the one child policy–which I can’t even imagine living under–shouldn’t be underestimated.  It’s far easier to cater to one child than it is to three.  Plus, Chinese parents’ future hopes reside solely in that one child. I’m sure I’d be tempted to coddle and overprotect as well.

But the downside of all that coddling appears to be demanding children who are incapable of taking care of themselves once they leave home.  Aftter only two months here in America, my guest seems inspired to shake up the system a bit when she gets home.  Her 15-year-old daughter may not be so pleased with what her mom learned in Suburbia!



Filed under Kids

5 responses to “Independence 101

  1. Boy oh boy is it ever true about Chinese families! I am ever amazed at how my boyfriends mom caters to her kids STILL! The grew up here and she worked while raising the three of them. One big difference was no extra curricular activities so she wasn’t shuttling them all over. And in her mind the catering released them to focus on schoolwork completely. They do somehow produce some VERY diligent students.
    But yes, it also produces adults who are rather list when that catering service is removed!

  2. Lauren

    I had the chance to observe two sets of parents with only 1 child at E’s soccer game. They had snacks and multiple Gatorade for their child. They watched every play their child made, and were concerned about whether or not their child had played too long and if the ball hit them too hard.

    My main concerns were knowing where my 3 year old was and keeping my 18 month off the field. My main goal with the child playing the game was to hopefully see all of the goals that she made, and to hand her water when I realized she was taking a break from the game.

  3. a) I, too, would never make it as a Chinese parent.
    b) My children should be raised in China.

  4. Just visiting from my own blog – thanks for coming to visit – and I feel compelled to comment.

    I would definitely fail the Chinese parenting concept, and not only that I find I fail the American one as well! My friends (and my sister) who are in the US are often aghast at my “hands off” parenting style, telling me that it seems as though I don’t care about my kids. My crime, it seems, is letting them do things like walk the dog (in our small, suburban neighbourhood), make their own lunches occasionally without checking the contents, make their own breakfasts (stuff like cooked eggs) and not only allowing but insist they help around the house.

    Then again, I’m also the parent who will allow breakfast for dinner, and chocolate before a meal, and heck, I myself even like Mickey D’s once in a while. Clearly, there is no hope for me.


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