Chinese Parents, Pressure and a Preemie Baby | Speaking of China

13 Responses

  1. melanie gao
    melanie gao May 28, 2010 at 5:46 am | | Reply

    Again such great, balanced advice Jocelyn! 🙂

    When my daughter turned nine I remarked to my Chinese father-in-law how sad I was that we were halfway through – in another nine years our work would be done. He laughed at me and said that for a Chinese parent, you are never done!

    To the new mom – it sounds like your in-laws subscribe to that philosophy as well, and now that you’ve produced the next generation their work begins anew! I agree with Jocelyn, do what feels right for you and for your baby. That’s got to be your priority now. And hopefully you can find diplomatic ways, as Jocelyn suggests, to get your point across.

    Best of luck to you! Enjoy your precious new baby. 🙂
    .-= melanie gao´s last blog ..“I have a chicken eye on my foot” =-.

  2. rhiannon
    rhiannon May 28, 2010 at 6:32 am | | Reply

    I was also nervous about the 30 day party with my kids, I couldn’t imagine if they were preemies what I would feel like.
    .-= rhiannon´s last blog .. =-.

  3. danni
    danni May 28, 2010 at 8:03 am | | Reply

    I think using modern media such as a video-link as Jocelyn suggested might be a good alternative if you’re concerned about your little one’s health. I once went to one of these baby parties in China where the baby wasn’t there; the parents had had some professional pictures taken and they were being projected on the wall while the guests were eating and drinking. A nanny looked after the baby at home. The baby boy wasn’t premature they just didn’t want to take him along. The guests still had a good time despite the baby’s absense.

  4. Juliet
    Juliet May 28, 2010 at 1:26 pm | | Reply

    As the mother of a preemie (born at 31.6 weeks) who just turned 3 (see my latest blog about him), I can not stress enough that company should be kept to a minimum, hand washing should always be observed, and things should be kept as calm as possible. I know that the urge to hold and touch a new baby is very strong, but make sure that those who do observe cleanliness, and are in the best of health. And remember, this is your child,. Ultimately, you call the shots.

    I’m often glad my Chinese in-laws live out of state/country (as much as I love them).
    .-= Juliet´s last blog ..Xander is 3 today! =-.

  5. Crystal
    Crystal May 28, 2010 at 2:33 pm | | Reply

    I can undrestand the husband’s parents – the one month party for baby is a very important custom in China.
    On the other hand, my boyfriend told me that Jewish have a religious custom of circumcision for babies who are 9 days old only. And no matter how important and must-be-done this custom is – if the baby is preemie or weak – this procedure is just postponed to a later date.
    So – I think that the best thing would be to postpone the party, but it seems to be already impossible. That’s too bad ((

    However,in my opinion, showing a baby through a web-cam is not a good idea – in China it would be like a slap into grandparents’ and their guests’ face. By the way, returning to the analogy of circumcision tradition – maybe the things are not so harsh as they seem: if the baby can be in the big and noisy party when he is just 9 days old, maybe a one month old baby also can do it (with the proper precautions, of course).
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..How To Apologize To Chinese Girl? =-.

  6. Friend
    Friend May 29, 2010 at 3:16 am | | Reply

    It might be hard to believe but you can negotiate or bargain with Chinese parents to a certain degree. I have two Chinese names, one assigned by my grandmother and another by my own parents (which is the official and commonly used one). Strategize like what others said, emphasize the kid is a little sick, have several “expert” opinions, have thick skin and don’t mind what your in-laws or their friends say.

    I’ve met a lot of mixed Chinese families, some with non-Chinese husbands and some with non-Chinese wives. It’s tough now but be happy your child is getting exposure to the warmth of family members beyond the parents. It’s going to help a lot in her/his sense of belonging whether in China or elsewhere. However, the mother will always have the final say in these matters. A lot of in-laws are aware of this.

  7. Jessica
    Jessica May 29, 2010 at 10:35 am | | Reply

    As a mom, I have a lot to say on this topic! While compromise is good, I do think it is important to set boundaries when it comes to your kids and your life. Chinese grandparents can be VERY overbearing and since the Chinese cultural traditions are so strong, especially when compared to a rather more flexible Western culture, it is easy for the foreign partner to end up being the one making the majority of the compromises.

    The thing too is that as a new mother it is really important that you have time to bond with your baby and become comfortable as a family. It is normal to sort of want a bit of a babymoon, time alone with the new baby just getting accustomed to the new shape of your family. It is normal for you not to want your in-laws over at the house every day, to want some space.

    Which isn’t to say not to do the baby party or to shut out the grandparents, but that it is ok to say no to them. It is ok to say, no you can’t come over today, we need our space. It is ok to compromise on the baby party — have the party, have the baby make an appearance (not allowing the baby to be passed around), and then take the baby home while your husband continues on with the party. I’ve got two kids in China and while I don’t have parents in law I have relatives and meddling neighbors, friends, etc. and I know that it is important to set your boundaries and make it clear that you make the decisions for your children. The previous poster is right, your in-laws do know that you’re the mother, so don’t feel intimidated into giving in all the time. Coming off as insecure or unsure will send a message to your mother in law that you need help, that you can’t do it on your own, and they’ll take you guys not saying anything as an invitation to be more and more involved. So make sure that you guys set the rules and make the decisions.

    I know one couple whose marriage ended after their son was born because of the in-laws and the husband’s inability to stand up to them. Your in-laws don’t sound so bad, but your baby is still small and you really don’t want resentment to build, and especially build up against your husband for not standing with you. A good relationship with the grandparents is a great thing for your child to have, and you don’t want that relationship to become strained because you resent their meddling.
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..Father, Son and a Big Music Festival (with mom too) =-.

  8. skreader
    skreader May 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm | | Reply

    If you are living in their house, they certainly are more in a position to control (think of the old English phrase about paying fiddlers and calling tunes). For the long-term, you need to move out if you wish to have more independence.

    re: 1 month party

    See if you can get your in-laws to change/compromise on the date. I suggest working on them for 1 month after what was your EDD – then BB will be older and stronger.

    Agree w/ Jessica re: “limited viewing”. Also see if you and ye-ye and nai-nai can be very strict about the need for hand-washing and ask people who want to approach the BB to wear surgical masks? Many people in HK now-a-days will wear one if the have sniffles of mild coughs, so as not to infect others.

    re: Chinese name – also agree w/ the suggestion to let your in-laws call her by a Chinese name, which can be her “nick-name”? A lot of kids in western cultures have special names that their family call them: “bunny”, “birdy”, etc.

  9. tom
    tom June 18, 2010 at 8:35 am | | Reply

    Lovely baby!! 🙂

  10. Michelle Yung
    Michelle Yung June 27, 2014 at 10:27 pm | | Reply

    Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m half-Chinese/half-English and married to a Chinese man. We are expecting our first baby, a little girl, in august.

    I’m currently in the UK to give birth and am terrified of going back to China after she’s born purely because his mother is there (his parents are divorced). We do not get along, she hates me and has many times told my husband to divorce me, even though I have done nothing but try and be the respectful wife/daughter-in-law! But he’s still got this delusion that we can all live together, even though I’ve finally said that we cannot live with her (I’m not cutting her out of his life, simply stating that she has to live in a separate building so I can be in charge of my own home)… (I have considered leaving him for mine and my daughters safety simply because of his mother).

    Hubby is really excited about the baby, and will be coming to the UK for her birth. I understand that Chinese grandparents tend to be over-involved in their children’s/grand children’s lives. But I’m sorry we had this baby for us, not so I could just hand her over to his mother (which she expected and could get rid of me then as he had produced a child

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