“How is it your husband has two brothers? What about the One-Child Policy?”
The question came out this afternoon while sharing stories from my summer in China at a party — and, more specifically, photos showing my husband actually has two older brothers. One of the women at the party suddenly blurted the question out, because the idea of siblings just didn’t mesh with the narrative she’d heard all along about China.
I told them he was born in 1978, the first year the One-Child Policy began, and he happened to be the youngest in the family. “But most of the men younger than him don’t have brothers or sisters.”
I thought about this later on, long after I left the party — what would it be like if my Chinese husband were an only child?
I’ll bet the have-kids-sooner campaign would hit us even harder. As John often reminded me, the existence of our nephew and newborn niece meant a little less pressure from his parents to “produce.”
Would his parents have even let me take him away to the US? Even though John is the youngest son in the family — and his parents have their two other sons close by — my Chinese mother-in-law and father-in-law suggested scrapping our plans to move to my country, and get John into graduate school in psychology. “It’s too far,” they said. “Stay in Shanghai instead.” I wonder, what would the parents of only sons say if the yangxifu wanted to whisk him away to her overseas hometown? I’m thinking “unfilial” would come up in the conversation.
I wonder if John would have taken the risks he did, all to follow his own dreams of becoming a clinical psychologist. Would he have instead pursued a more traditional, big-salary-guaranteed career, just to ensure he could provide for his parents?
And what about our relationship? Maybe only sons feel even more pressure to marry the kind of woman — Chinese — their parents expect them to. I wonder if the Only-Child Policy has actually meant fewer yangxifu? (Well, if so, maybe that’s another good reason to hope China will continue revising the policy.) 😉
Are you an only Chinese son with a Western girlfriend or wife — or a Western woman with a Chinese boyfriend/husband who is an only child? What has your experience been?