Leftover Youngsters and Their Parents in Shanghai

Min tidligere kollega fra Microsoft; Hermione Hong, leder av Software Asset Management divisjonen i Microsoft Shanghai, har skrevet om hvordan Kinas foreldregenerasjon fortviler over dagens unge (spesielt unge kvinner), og deres mangel på en partner. De tar derfor saken i egne hender, og tilbringer søndagene på jakt etter en partner for deres barn og barnebarn.

Fenomenet er ganske interessant fordi den setter fokus på den kollisjonen som oppstår når tradisjonelle verdier og rollemønstre møter dagnes moderne samfunn og dets tilhørende ønsker om frihet og kravet om å leve sitt eget liv.

Unge kvinner i dagens Kina er i en brytningsfase mellom gammelt og nytt, og søker sin egen identitet samtidig som de ønsker å være samvittighetsfulle mot tidligere generasjoners tradisjoner.

De er moderne kvinner, med høy utdannelse og høy grad av selvstendighet. Mens deres mødre måtte ta hensyn til familiekrav og tradisjoner, blir de selv inspirert av andre land og nytenkning. De tar høyere utdannelse, reiser utenlands for å jobbe og studere, og de velger bort familie og barn til fordel for økonomisk frihet og egen karriere.

Kinas kvinner står i en særstilling, siden det finnes mer enn 20 millioner flere menn enn kvinner under 30 år. De er ikke mangel på partnere og ektefeller som er utfordringen, men at Kinas unge kvinner er ambisiøse på egne vegne, både innen karriere og fremtidig partner. De er modige som tør å bryte med tradisjonene og de er tøffe som står i mot presset for å skape og forme sin egen fremtid. Disse uredde unge kvinnene er nå på full fart inn i Kinesisk og internasjonalt næringsliv, og det skal bli spennende å se hva de kommer til å påvirke i de nærmeste tiårene.

Deres foreldre derimot, drømmer fortsatt om barnebarn, og jakten på en partner fortsetter:

Leftover Youngsters and Their Parents in Shanghai

By Hermione Hong

White-haired Parents Arrange for Kids’ Blind Date

If you happen to visit Shanghai during the weekend, there is a scenic point you cannot miss; Blind Date Corner in People’s Park. Instead of the marriageable youngsters, you will find mid-aged parents, who act as the matchmakers for their own kids, probably without them even knowing it. More and more Chinese parents show up in this kind of event on behalf of their unmarried children to find a match, and this have become a typical phenomenon across the whole country. The children being promoted by their parents in the park are the first generation of the only child (one-child policy was introduced to urban cities starting from 1979). Parents are desperate for their only child to find the perfect mate.

No matter rainy or windy days, the parents commute from every corner of the city and gather in the park, keeping an eye out for suitable future in-laws. They usually bring food and drinks, sitting on foldable chairs and spending the whole day.

In front of them on the ground, there is usually an ad, stating the gender, age, height, weight, education background, monthly income or other economic status, about their children. Sometimes there will even be a picture to illustrate their children’s appearance.

Saturdays are usually more crowded: if the parents manage to find great candidates on Saturday, they can coordinate a blind date for their children on Sunday. Eligible candidates found on Sunday have to wait until the weekend after, and then there will always be a chance of them changing their mind and refuse to meet.

Do you wonder why they don’t find their Mr./Mrs. Right on their own?

Simply because they do not have enough time to engage in physical social network. They were top students in schools, and forbidden to start a romantic relationship – even in college their parents controlled how they spent their time, and could even be cutting their pocket money if they didn’t do well in school. After graduation they were usually overwhelmed by heavy workloads and long working hours. Now that the prime time of parenthood starts they are suddenly reminded by everyone to get married. Suddenly both the children and their parents are realizing; they don’t have a mate.

For men, there is no great pressure to not be married by the age of 30-35.

However, women have to endure massive pressure starting from age 25, if they don’t plan to marry soon, or have plans to start a family. That is why 60-70% of the people represented in People’s Park are parents of girls.

Why are girls left over?

Census figures show that in China around one in five women aged 25-29 are unmarried. Women in Shanghai marry for the first time at the average age of 27 (data from 2012). It seems quite normal compared globally, but no parents in China want an unmarried daughter older than 28, even in a city as open as Shanghai. They push for their daughters to marry, and to marry well.

If you happen to be a girl born in a typical Shanghainese family, you are encouraged to receive higher education and fight for a career just as boys do. Normally you will be 23 when finished undergraduate, work 3-4 years to gain a more stable position in career, then think about marriage.

The reality is that the more outstanding the females are, the harder it is for them to get married, if they choose to. Men tend to look for women that are less capable in career, but younger. Women look for higher economic status. From the chart below, you can see A girl and d boy are usually left over. That makes it impossible for A girl to accept d boy, so d boys, if born in large cities, normally would find some girls from rural area, whom can obtain a city ID by marrying a guy in large cities.

Now only A girls are left over. . . .

 

 

*A(a), B(b), C(c), D(d) here means the overall competitiveness considering education, career, economic status and looking. A(a) is top category.

 

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