Dilemma for China’s One-child Generation

As millions of Chinese prepare for the annual trek back to their hometowns to celebrate the Lunar New Year, one group in particular feels an emotional strain over where to spend the holiday. The generation of only children, many of whom are now married and working away from home, are conflicted about which set of parents they should visit. From the Washington Post:

These young couples are part of the generation of only children born during the 34 years of China’s “one child policy.” Following the typical pattern, they migrated to the larger cities from the outlying provinces to go to university. They stayed for work, then got married.

And now they must decide which set of parents to go visit. It’s a decision fraught with emotion, especially for China’s growing elderly population, often couples living alone and far from their children, who have historically been caregivers in a country with little social safety net.

“Both of us want to go back to our home to celebrate Chinese New Year,” said Lin Youlan, 30, a government worker who married her husband, Li Haibin, 33, four years ago. “We always fight about this problem.”

[…] Li said as the only son, he is under intense family pressure to visit his parents, who are not in good health. “In Shandong Province, men must celebrate the Spring Festival with their own families. And the wives should spend the Lunar New Year at their husbands’ homes,” he said. “I worry how others will look at my parents if I don’t go back home every year.”

January 18, 2012 1:06 PM
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Categories: Society