Too busy to talk

16:17, July 05, 2011      

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A father plays with his boy in Guiyang, Guizhou province. For children from "quasi-single-parent families", playing with their fathers is precious. (Source: China Daily)

For many children, dads are becoming distant figures who pop up occasionally at parent-teacher conferences or do the disciplining when the reports come home. Wang Kaihao reports.

Xiao Xu (not her real name) from Anhui province is a junior in college. For the summer break, her family plans to travel to New York City to visit her uncle. Although they have the required travel visas, they are yet to book their tickets. "I have to wait for my father," Xu says. "I don't know when he will have free time. I don't even know if he will actually travel with us." Xu's father is a civil servant who is devoted to his work. "He is always busy attending conferences or social activities. He also often goes on business trips. And when he does have some spare time, he likes to participate in singing competitions," she says.

Many fathers with flourishing careers face even busier schedules, forcing their children to live in what netizens have dubbed jiadanqin or "quasi-single-parent families".

Not that these fathers don't take any interest in their children's lives, it's just not the way the children want it.

"My dad always squeezed time out for me when I was in high school to attend the teacher-parent conference. He seldom talked to me or got involved with my studies through the year but always scolded me if I didn't produce good exam results," Xu says.

To compensate, she says, her mother is extraordinarily nice to her.

"I spend so much more time with her. She never scolds me and takes my side when my father yells at me."

Xu also shares many interests with her mother such as enjoying Taiwan pop music and South Korean soap operas.

"I've become used to my father's long absences," Xu continues. "Although I am a little scared of him, I can understand him."

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