Guarantee leaves many feeling shortchanged

2021-01-31 12:05:32

[Photo provided to China Daily] "Rest assured that if you are willing to have a second child you need not worry when the baby is born. I'll help you take care of it." This reassuring pledge from a mother-in-law will be familiar to almost every young mother in China. But how much faith can anyone have in it? Is it true that after a child is born, the mother can really forget about employing professional child care and hand the baby to the mother-in-law? A small number of mothers-in-laws may well prove to be invaluable in the care they offer to their grandchildren, and a recent survey by the internet portal Sohu shows that the maternal grandmother, rather than her paternal counterpart, has gradually become the main force in raising babies, especially for two-child families. The Chinese language highlights the importance of the differences between paternal and maternal relationships. The differences mean a lot to Chinese and determine the real relationships, near or distant, inside or outside, between relatives. So in Chinese the words for paternal grandmother and maternal grandmother are strictly distinguished in pronunciation and writing: laolao or waipo for maternal grandmother and nainai for paternal grandmother. Before giving birth to her first baby eight years ago, Liu Qing was a nurse with a heavy workload. Her mother-in-law persuaded her to quit her job so she could focus entirely on having the baby and on her family. Now, she says, she regrets abandoning her nursing career and calls it the result of brainwashing, even though she is now an officer worker in a private company. What really surprised her in all of this was that her mother-in-law broke her promise of full support after the first baby was born, she says. After a quarrel, the nainai quit for good. Although Liu's husband earns a relatively handsome salary, for the whole family if you want to maintain a healthy income you must have both marital partners working at the same time, especially in the biggest cities. Liu felt very distressed, and finally asked her mother Wang Meiying to help her take care of the baby at home during the day. With more young parents having reservations about having a second child, tangled family relationships become even more complex. [Photo provided to China Daily]