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Growing up hard for single child generation
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-08-24 14:21

When Zhang Yang and Huang Ming announced their engagement, Huang's parents were overjoyed. Their only son was set to marry an urban career woman.

But their happiness was short lived. Zhang and Huang broke up just two months later.

Huang, 25, is the only child of a well-to-do family. Zhang, 23, is also a single child.

From the very start of their relationship, Zhang insisted her name be included on all certificates for the property Huang bought. Meanwhile, Huang complained that Zhang never did any housework. It was not long before they split.

Zhang and Huang are their real family names but their given names have been changed in this story for the sake of their privacy.

Their story is typical of many single children in China, the result of the one-child policy implemented in the late 1970s, who are now old enough to marry.

A recent survey by the Shanghai Family Education Research Centre found that although these children have grown up, their attitudes are very different from those of their parents or grandparents.

According to the survey, parental doting and their career-first attitude may have created a generation of young people who place family-related values in the back seat.

The centre interviewed 1,828 men and women up to 30 years old.

The results showed the average person of this generation is likely to start a relationship at 22 and is more open to love, premarital sex and more concerned with individual property.

Having been the focus of attention from the family throughout their growing-up years, these children are more dependent on others and easily hurt psychologically. Half of the single children surveyed expected their parents to pay for their wedding, 10 per cent more than children with brothers or sisters. Another 50 per cent want their parents to look after their own children.

Yang Xiong, director of the centre, said these single children are mostly well educated and they generally want to care their own children well but lack experience, willingness and commitment.

"Many single children are themselves children, though physically grown up. Some even buy themselves a toy while buying one for their baby," said Yang.

Many are simply unable to pay enough attention to their own children because they pay too much attention to their own careers.

Another survey conducted by the centre last year revealed that about 20 per cent of those polled in Shanghai chose not to have children.

Their parents, however, are a different story. Many cannot wait to see the coming of the grandchildren.

"To their parents, taking care of the third generation is like taking care of a second child," Yang said.

The result, he said, is that the grandchildren are well fed and cared for but often spoiled by both parents and grandparents.

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