Parents should not rush children into marriage to gain 'face'

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/6 18:23:39

As a single man, your article titled Single women deserve more respect in China finds an echo in me. Unmarried children laughed and criticized by others weigh on parents, but it is ridiculous to urge "leftover" kids into marriage because of parents' reluctance to lose face in front of their neighbors and relatives.

For young people that have reached the legal age of marriage yet remain single, Chinese New Year can be a nightmare. Returning home without a partner becomes an annoyance for both parents and children, especially for some parents who are crazy about showing off their superiority by comparing their children with those of neighbors and relatives.

"I think young people in today's society are so self-engrossed. They have already reached adulthood and should consider developing a relationship or even marriage, but they are picky about partners. That's why a large number of them become leftover. But have you ever thought about your parents?

I feel ashamed when neighbors and relatives ask about my child's marital status," a cousin told my elder sister and me as we visited our uncle a few days before New Year's Eve.

This reflects the conflicts between the older and younger generations over notions of marriage.

Chinese people are living in a transition period, but our parents are refusing to keep up with the rapid pace of change in society. Parents treat their kids' marriage as a way to continue the family line and show off to others. By contrast, younger generations don't regard marriage as a necessity and put personal happiness as top priority.

Therefore, the rift over marriage between parents and their unmarried children deepen. As the conflict escalates, it might turn into an obstacle to family bonding during Chinese New Year as millions of young people flock to hometowns and celebrate the festival with their parents.

It seems that children's marital status acts as a powerful weapon for parents to gain "mianzi," or face, in front of others. Mianzi is a typical part of Chinese culture. It is hard to define, but often, it refers to a social measurement by which people constrain themselves, construct good personal images and maintain relationships with other members of society.

In the family setting, concerns about "face" can often turn into a competition that parents have over their children. Parents may strive to avoid the possibility of losing face by comparing their children's education, occupation, income, spouse with those of their acquaintances.

However, it is inappropriate to force children into marriage just to satisfy the parents' vanity and hence, gain respect from others. Such irresponsible behavior may pose a threat to the children's future.

Although it is a tradition for Chinese parents to interfere in their kids' relationships and marriage, they need to clarify that their intention is to help their children find someone who can take care of them and lead a happy life. That's what marriage entails.

"I just want you and your little brother to find the people who love you, live in a harmonious relationship with you and care for you in your personal and professional life. That is my wish for you two," my mother said to us the day before we left home.

I hope all the parents, like my mom, put emphasis on what their children really want and need.

Cui Bowen, a post-graduate student in translation studies at Beijing Language and Culture University

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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