One child norm breeding brats, warn experts

09:22, February 23, 2010      

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Six-year-old Zhu Xuan had little say when her parents and her grandmother decided to rent out their two-story house in Beijing's Changping district and move into a two-bedroom apartment closer to one of the capital's best primary schools last August.

Enduring a cold winter in unfamiliar surroundings, Zhu has been longing to play hide and seek with her friends in the neighborhood where she was born.

Her parents, however, are determined to "do the best for their only child at all costs".

"We had to move to Xicheng district so that Zhu could attend the best primary school in Beijing," said Zhu's mother, who did not want to give her name.

Zhu's parents rented out their 170-sq-m house in Hui Longguan of Changping district and relocated into a 60-sq-m apartment a month before their only child was to start school. They are not planning to return to the Changping district for at least six years.

There are tens of millions of children like Zhu, whose parents are both single children from the post-1980 generation, born after the introduction of China's one-child policy.

The parents and grandparents of the so-called "second-generation only child" leave no stone unturned to provide the best that money can buy for their only child, or only grandchild.

But experts warn of potential social problems shadowing these members of "China's future".

In an interview with the Sanlian Lifeweek Magazine, Chen Wei, a professor at the Renmin University of China, said there has been a new baby boom in the country since 2005, with about 16 million to 18 million babies born annually.

Compared with their parents, the "second-generation only child" enjoys more care. Usually, a child will get help in every possible way from six people - the father, mother, father's parents and mother's parents.

Take seven-month-old Mo Mo for example. His baby carriage is worth 4,000 yuan ($590), he drinks milk imported from Australia and has a nanny, who comes at a price of 2,800 yuan a month.

Recently, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences released research that showed a family spends at least 490,000 yuan to raise a child in big cities.

But the big investment doesn't always work out that well for the child, experts said.

"Some parents who grew up in one-child families do nothing but spoil their children with material comforts. As a result, the 'second-generation only child' becomes self-centered, fragile and tends to be asocial," prominent psychologist Fang Xingda was quoted as saying by Beijing News.

Children of the post-1980 generation have been criticized as being too self-centered, and their children are now seen to be adopting the same attitude.

According to Wang, a teacher at the Shi Jia Primary School in Beijing's Dongcheng district, parents of the "second-generation only child" are extremely difficult to deal with.

"All of them seem to believe their child is the best. But none of them have ever noticed that their child needs protection and psychological care, rather than just material comforts," she said.

Zhou Xiaozheng, a well-known sociologist and professor at Renmin University of China, told the Beijing Morning Post on Monday that the "second-generation only child" is more likely to have personality difficulties than his or her parents.

Worse still, negative population growth because of so many single children will give rise to more social problems such as an aging and dwindling labor force.

Source: China Daily
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