Advice for Tourists Visiting China
- A Typical Life
aim of this section is to give those travelling to China
for the first time an insight into the lives of ordinary
| A Typical Person's
In a rural community, a baby will normally be looked
after by it's Mother, and Grandmother + associated other
family members. It is not unusual for the real Mother
to work far away (or even abroad), so most toddlers
are reared by their mother's mother.
Low income families, mainly migrant interlopers, will
have their children educated at local community schools.
Most established village families will send their children
to the best school they can afford - often this requires
week-day boarding. Fortunate and/or astute parents will
scrape and save in order to send their children to city
schools, and later to University.
This is where Eastern and Western thinking and practices
diverge. In China, parents will put their children's
education before all but starvation. State education
is free, but the best schools are private; and even
state schools in cities require payments for boarding.
University is not state funded, and is very expensive.
Most Cantonese parents will pay for their child's University
education - even to the third or fifth child., regardless
of sex. Once the child enters the workplace, their job
is done - although children are expected home at sowing
and harvest times to help. Exceptions are those with
very good and secure (Government) jobs
For those who at 16 (Sometimes as low as 14, or never
schooled officially) finish education and return to
the farm - they are groomed and educated to take over
the Fathers work. Here the immediate goal is lower,
but the longer term aim is to send the sons children
By contrast, daughters are expected to marry wisely.
They are taught to work the fields at busy times. Otherwise
as wives, they rule the household on a daily basis;
cooking, cleaning, rearing children etc. In a rural
community, this is their job - and whilst we Westerners
send each other email jokes along similar lines - today
in rural communities (Not only in China), this is how
life is actually lived.
As generations pass, so daughters become mothers, and
later the family expects to support their parents in
old age. This is again very central to the Chinese psyche
- just as they can't imaging why you would leave your
precious baby with a babysitter, neither can they comprehend
why you would want to put your very own parents into
a home? It simply doesn't happen, and they cherish looking
after their own parents in sickness and in old age.
It is the very least they can do for the two people
that gave them life!
What I need you to take away from this section, is the
fact that Chinese think about people and family in a
very different way from Western cultures.
Most Westerners are highly individual - even into old
age, and resent being looked after by their children.
They have made their children into opinionated individuals
also. My own parents are into their 90's, and still
live alone together on a rural farm. This is what they
want. They detest it when my Sister and I try to look
This would be a primary insult to Chinese parents, and
their children would rather die than allow it! - so
at this point in later life, expectations and reality,
are virtually opposite between East and West
When parents pass-on, the children will of course take
care of the honours and details. On 'Grave Cleaning
Day', all Chinese will honour the family graves. However,
each home includes a Family Shrine which is not dedicated
to any arbitrary religious beliefs - - contrarily, it
is dedicated to their own ancestors. They will regularly
(and for reasons I do not fully understand yet) make
offering to the family shrine. This is to honour parents
and other family ancestors. It includes official dates,
personal dates, and moments of passage - such as my
own wedding day,when I was asked to seek a personal
blessing for our new marriage from 'The Ancestors'
Life in a modern Chinese city is virtually Western style
in everyday appearance. However, the goals and aims
of a city Chinese are quite different from their Western
counterparts - lets start with a baby, yet include rural
kids from their time at University...
Scenario: A young couple have a baby in a modern Chinese
city. This is the only baby they are allowed by law
(Unless they are very, very rich). This Baby represents
all their hopes and dreams, and is central to their
lives. Being city dwellers, both partners need to work,
although the Mother does have a few weeks leave from
work - or more normally for regular people, is forced
to give up her full-time job for a few months. Unless
they can afford it (Unlikely), she will return to work
as soon as possible. Parenting toddler duties normally
fall to the wife's Mother. Nothing very different so
Well, yes there is actually. The Grandmother probably
lives a long way away, and even in another province.
The parents may individually travel abroad. In this
scenario the toddler will be almost exclusively reared
by the Grandmother. Otherwise, the normal route is for
toddlers to become full-time kindergarten students =
7am to 7pm, or longer. Kindergartens do provide these
services for minimal fees, inclusive of meals - Ages
range 2 to 6, as 5-years old is normal school entry
information is as supplied by the Chinese Embassy in
UK, as dated 20th June 2008, and/or other reliable sources.
Please check this information yourself as it may alter
without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure
it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for
any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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