Sunday, January 11, 2009

Child safety and overprotective parents

Chengdu 2008 ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

Few would doubt that the Chinese (or any other people for that matter) adore and cherish their children. Maybe because they are encouraged to limit the number of children they have, the Chinese are in my eyes highly overprotective. Middle-class city children are seldom allowed to walk on the edge of a wall, climb on top of anything higher than a chair, touch objects that in any way might have come in contact with germs, go outside without several layers of warm, protective clothing and are constantly ooohed and aaahed over. Working-class children and children in the countryside, on the other hand, are allowed to run wild and are wonderfully dirty and naughty. We often overhear comments how independent our kids seem to be and how clever and daring they are. But one thing that I've seen here doesn't tally up with my perception of the Chinese as worrywarts: several times I've noticed how children are left completely on their own sitting in their seats on a precariously propped up bicycle while the parent is in a shop. The children I have seen have all sat as still as statues, something I wonder if a Western child could do.  (My husband just told me that he has done the same thing with our kids. As a mother, that is just something you don't want to know).

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