Saturday, January 26, 2008
Little Emperors and Empresses
I took a picture of this boy as his father tried to take a picture of him in front of a Chinese New Year display in Wangfujing.
The boy was restless; he yanked on the strings keeping the two characters on the right standing up and ran around in a frenzy. His dad tried to tell him to stop but his son wouldn't listen. He only paused briefly for this picture.
Parents here have no control over their children. Part of it is because they aren't very good at disciplining them.
I've seen them at fast food restaurants. The children order lots of food which their moms and dads buy and in the end much of it is left untouched. And no one tells the children they should finish what they ordered or that it was a waste of money.
At a restaurant at the Great Wall, a father tried to tell his son to finish his food and instead the son, holding a wooden stick that held a sausage, ran over to his father and tried to poke him in the eye. Neither parent spanked him or told him off; they just told him to sit down, but not without him trying to jab his father a few more times.
When I dined at Annie's, a family-style Italian restaurant, two mothers chatted as their children, a boy and a girl, ran around the dining area talking loudly. They moms just ignored them as if they were at home, and not in a public space.
I don't quite understand why the parents do this -- many of them surely weren't raised like this? Spoiling their kids won't help the situation.
When they get older, they find it hard to get along with others because they've had it their way for so long.
Some fall into depression in university if their grades are failing and don't know how to deal with the situation without their parents to help them.
Others get married soon after university -- even at their parents' urging -- in the hopes of having a grandchild. But these older Emperors and Empresses can't even look after themselves. Some even have their mothers come clean their apartments and buy groceries for them because they already spent their monthly salary on clothes and gadgets.
But many of their marriages don't last long. The divorce rate among those born around 1980 are the highest of all the age groups because they can't get along or learn to compromise.
These situations are exactly what psychologists and sociologists predicted over 25 years ago when China first implemented this social experiment.
Although President Hu Jintao is pushing for a "harmonious society", the next generation doesn't have the social skills to create the utopia he was thinking of.