1510 on Bringing up Children

1510 (Yiwu yishi 一五一十) is a Chinese idiom which means ‘to tell things objectively and honestly’. My1510.cn is a website founded by Phoenix TV journalist Rose Luqiu Luwei in 2007 that brings together essays by a range of Chinese writers.

Below is a summary of several recent articles on 1510 about children. From ‘tiger mums’ to ‘little emperors’, contemporary family relations in China have given rise to many negative stereotypes. How should good Chinese parents bring up their children? What values and behaviours should be taught to the younger generation, to protect them as children, and allow them to grow into resilient, balanced and successful adults?

Teaching children to say no
By Rose Luqiu Luwei, July 10 2012

In this post Rose Luqiu Luwei explores the problem of child abuse in China.

Recently, male alumni from her Middle School started a Weibo thread discussing events that took place fifteen years ago. One of their teachers had abused them sexually, under the pretence of ‘physical examinations’. One of the boys, who now has children himself, decided to make the facts public, and was soon joined by many former schoolmates. Because these men refused an interview, Rose Luqiu Luwei finds herself unable to confirm the story, but reflecting on these events, she asks: shouldn’t children learn to say no, when facing similar situations? And for that, shouldn’t society become more aware that child abuse does take place in China?

She then mentions the case of a girl from a Gansu village who was abused by her teacher. The facts became known after her cousin came back home crying, saying she didn’t want the teacher to abuse her too. The family decided to raise alarm, and discovered it was not an isolated case. However, this is a rather rare occurrence. In most cases, children in rural areas do not talk about similar events, because the dominant attitude is still one of blaming the victim.

The parents of that Gansu girl said they regretted never teaching her to say no, and that certain behaviours were inappropriate. But, optimistically, the post finishes with a sexual education scene in a Shanghai primary school, where children are taught that when adults behave in a certain way with them, they should very firmly say ‘no’, and quickly report it to their parents and teachers.
Marco Polo Project translations: Teaching children to say no
Original link: 教会孩子说不

Do not obstruct the child’s independence
By Yun Zhi, July 08 2012

Young people living in today’s China enjoy higher levels of material abundance than earlier generations, but they are also be exposed to more pressure from society and their parents. In the eighties and nineties, young people knew they had been brought up in difficult times, and therefore developed strong feelings of guilt towards their family. But conditions also taught them to be more independent and responsible – because they knew they couldn’t expect much from their parents.

New generations grow up with a much higher debt; and cases of young people ‘eating the old’ – living off their parents to a late age – are increasingly common. In a modern society, it is the duty of parents to take care of their children as they grow up, but when they become adults, children need to become responsible. However, in China, parents often fail to establish clear boundaries with their children, both when they grow up, and once they’ve become adults. Parents often consider that they are not getting a good return on their sacrifices – yet keep on paying for their children. As a result, the children are likely to suffer from low self-esteem, depression and anxiety, and find themselves unprepared to face the difficulties of life.

To finish, the author encourages parents to not stand in the way of future generations by loading them with debts and anxieties, but rather help them develop independent personalities, and support them not just by passing on material wealth, but also on solid values.
Marco Polo Project translations:Do not obstruct the child’s independence
Original link: 不要阻碍孩子的独立

Incompetent Chinese parents
By Ran Yunfei, July 19 2012

In the late nineties, anxious parents blocked the streets of Dalian to protect their children from the noise of cars while they sat the Gaokao exam, causing the death of an old man in a critical condition who couldn’t reach hospital on time. At the time, Ran Yunfei published a short essay called ‘educating parents‘, presenting such parental madness as a problem for society to address.

In this post, he comes back to the topic of extreme parenting, considering a recent case reported in the news. Chen Dan, a successful young woman, was forcibly sent to a mental hospital by her parents in order to break up her romantic relationship with a man. When Chen Dan was at university, her parents found out from her diary that she was in love with a boy. They did everything in their power to end the story – including insulting the boyfriend – and succeeded. Twelve years later, when they discovered about another boyfriend, they had her forcibly taken to a mental hospital in front of the boyfriend. Chen Dan was fortunately released, and is now suing her parents for abuse.

Although this is an extreme case, emotional abuse from parents is very common; and often, the excuse is – ‘I do it because I love you’. But, according to Ran Yunfei, this is not a receivable argument, as ‘love’ is generally just a cover for sheer interest, and parents treating their children as private property. Parents will often spend a lot of money so that their child will succeed academically, but they will not spend time listening and guiding them, passing on values, and equipping them for psychological balance and happiness. They just pass on their own social insecurity.

To finish, Ran Yunfei offers a counter example in the person of Liang Qichao, who brought up nine psychologically balanced and socially successful children by consistently listening to them, writing numerous letters to them, and encouraging their individual aspirations. This kind of education, he concludes, is the necessary basis for building a harmonious society.
Marco Polo Project translations: Incompetent Chinese parents
Original link: 不会做父母的中国人

Note: Image is sourced from this post.

All articles in this digest and a large range of other Chinese readings are accessible at Marcopoloproject.org. Some are available in English, French and Spanish translation. (You can join the project if you’d like to help with translations.)

Danwei is an affiliate of the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University. This posting is a result of one project that is part of that on-going collaboration.

China Heritage Quarterly and East Asian History are two other publications supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World.