On Bainian -- Chinese New Year's Calls -- And Those Annoying Questions From Relatives | Speaking of China

17 Responses

  1. Aurora
    Aurora February 18, 2013 at 11:14 am | | Reply

    My grandparents inquire whether or not I have a boyfriend 🙁 Thing is I would like one, but for me its impossible to one. These questions really hurt my feelings.

  2. Claire
    Claire February 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm | | Reply

    Whenever I see or speak to an ex-colleague (who is in his 50s) of mine one of the first things he always says to me is ‘are you married yet?’. I don’t speak to him too often so I can tolerate it but can imagine having to avoid him like your friend with her family. He is 100% worse than my own family!
    I know his intentions are good but it can be grating when you know it’s coming, a little conversation-imagination wouldn’t go amiss.

    That made me chuckle about your mother in law’s comments, maybe she’s trying not to get her hopes up too much… I’m sure she’d soon change her tune if she found out you were pregnant.
    My mum was in her mid-late 30s when she was pregnant with me and was made to feel reeaally old but now everyone’s at it, over here anyway :-S

  3. Li Lan
    Li Lan February 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm | | Reply

    Ah, well, I don’t have any (Chinese) relatives to visit, wish I did though that’s never going to happen I guess!

  4. Susan Blumberg-Kason
    Susan Blumberg-Kason February 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm | | Reply

    Gosh, I had some of these questions even without leaving my former in-laws’ house during Chinese New Year. The thing that annoyed me during bai nian was that my in-laws wouldn’t call their friends before we all trekked across town and up six flights of stairs–only to find their friends out for the day! Everyone had a phone, but no one made plans in advance. When I told my mother in the US about this custom, she said that Americans used to do the same. Now with everyone uber-connected, I can appreciate that spontaneity I shunned all those years ago.

  5. Li Lan
    Li Lan February 18, 2013 at 8:38 pm | | Reply

    >>>my in-laws wouldn’t call their friends

    omg! That was exactly what my Chinese friends and I used to do to each other all the time bainian or not, back in the 1980s and 1990s!

  6. Caseyorourke
    Caseyorourke February 18, 2013 at 8:55 pm | | Reply

    I’m in my mid 50’s and my wife is 13 years younger. because of our age, her family never asked her, but then she has a large family with lots of nieces and nephews. But lo and behold, April last year, my wife found herself preggers. Once we told the family the speculation suddenly became boy or girl. Because we are both “foreigners” (even though my wife is naturalized), they told us it was a girl. Now she is just over three months old and was the center of attention this CNY. Next year her nephews will have his own bundle of joy for the family to center on.

  7. askdsk
    askdsk February 19, 2013 at 12:30 am | | Reply

    People find their values in other people’s affairs. It is annoying for the most part. At the same time, it takes certain pressure off from making decisions. As long as you go with the flow, your life can be easy. The other option is to avoid the issues. Very few want to challenge the norms because you can’t win. It is easier to hide and lie. Look back in time, you will find these practices were not so rare in your own country.

  8. David
    David February 19, 2013 at 6:07 am | | Reply

    Things are not any different with white families here in America either…they ask the same questions during Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings!

  9. Barbara
    Barbara February 19, 2013 at 8:32 am | | Reply

    I don’t know what the fuss is about. My bf’s relatives also asked us about our jobs and it’s ok. What were we supposed to talk about, the weather? We both like our jobs so we also don’t mind this kind of questions. One aunt asked when we will get married and my bf honestly said that we don’t know. I think that if you are ok with yourself and your life you also won’t care about the questions.
    My bf’s sister and brother-in-law are 32 and don’t have a child yet but nobody asked them about that, at least not my bf’s relatives…
    But I asked my bf’s cousin about gaokao, gosh, maybe I shouldn’t have?

  10. Nathalie
    Nathalie February 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm | | Reply

    I understand why many singles over 30 (or even over 25) would avoid the New Year visit. Chinese families can be very repetitive and sometimes pushy about this subject. However, that’s because they care about you – in their own way.

    We were asked the same questions (marriage AND baby) when we visited the family in China; this was only after 5 MONTHS of dating! Luckily, my fiancé and I have already discussed it all in our first couple months and we don’t mind discussing it with those who ask. We started dating in our late 20s and were both on the same page from the beginning.

    Not everyone is in the same situation, though, so I don’t blame those who try to avoid the subject. It’s a tough position to be in with your family.

  11. chubblywubbly
    chubblywubbly February 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm | | Reply

    The questions do not get easier once you are married. I am married for 3 years and in my early 30’s and I constantly get bombarded with questions that hurt my feelings such as:

    Why don’t you have kids? Don’t you know your husband will leave you in the future if you can’t give him a baby?

    You have to have kids soon, your eggs are past their prime already.

  12. chinaelevatorstories
    chinaelevatorstories February 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm | | Reply

    I can see how people find these questions annoying. My fiancé’s cousin’s wife asked me recently when we plan to get a baby and it really felt uncomfortable to be asked a question like this from somebody I had only met a few hours earlier.

    But I agree, sometimes family back home will ask similar questions (not my close family though and with much less frequency).

  13. Laura
    Laura February 24, 2013 at 11:57 pm | | Reply

    We got these questions from both sides of the family.
    Chinese side:
    – His sister recently had a baby, new nephew, when he hold or look at the baby many questions came: When are you going to get married? Why don´t you have kids soon?
    I thought..ok maybe I just don´t pay much attention to the baby, but that would be rude too.
    – Why you don´t marry? These questions is a bit painful because seems like they really think we don´t want to marry. The point is: getting married is expensive. His sister can´t understand it cause she got married 10 years ago and her family paid all the expenses. So she just said: No is not. ( Well…she did not pay for it so for her, it was not). This is a different case, we both need a better situation and we need to borne the wedding.

    – Do you plan to marry during your trip? I want to be a grandma. : Here I just said no..don´t worry we are not hiding that, we don´t plan to marry in my hometown, and you already have 2 grandsons.

    From my side of the family:

    – This food is good to have children
    – I am waiting for a new wedding to use this new dress…
    – I want my granddaughter has a son before I leave (oh no…that´s too negative).

    etc etc

    They can be umcomfortable but also funny. I think when people get married they forget about how it feels when others pushed you.
    Sometimes people are not ready, or can´t afford it. The point is that when someone pushes the topic so much it can create pressure and the couple may even suffer a small crisis from it.

    Why when people marry feel that need of asking the others when they will marry or why they don´t?
    Single people don´t usually go around asking married ones why they married and if they plan to divorce.


  14. Caroline
    Caroline March 4, 2013 at 9:15 pm | | Reply

    Oh, this is the embarassed Caroline.

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