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!