Guest Post: Six Questions Chinese-Foreigner Couples Should Discuss Before Having Kids in China | Speaking of China

24 Responses

  1. R Zhao
    R Zhao July 24, 2015 at 10:11 am | | Reply

    These are all spot on. I would add, that you should think very carefully about where you want to give birth. Firstly, medical care and procedures are probably going to be very different. Also, postpartum practices are going to be different (as Charlotte notes) and you may face a lot of pressure to do things a certain way if you are in China. My mother-in-law and husband were never controlling or bossy types, but my son being born was a total game-changer. The last issue, which was something I struggled with, was feeling like my son’s mother. When he was an infant, I was under a lot of pressure to do things a certain (Chinese) way and I really wanted to have the freedom to figure out how to parent him on my own terms.

    I also think education is a very big issue and one that should be taken seriously. If you’ve taught in China, you know the pressure most students are under. But it becomes more real once your own kid is experiencing it. Witnessing my step-daughter’s grade school education has taught me a lot. It has also been one of the largest sources of conflict in my marriage as I’ve realized my husband and I have very different beliefs about how a child should be educated and disciplined. He is a tiger dad. I am much more laissez-faire.

    I realize this sounds a bit negative, but I think it’s worth thinking about it. Everyone’s situation and personality is different, of course, but be prepared to face some tough questions if you are going to have kids in China. I guess that’s the reality of being a parent pretty much anywhere though!

    1. Charlotte Edwards
      Charlotte Edwards July 26, 2015 at 1:53 pm | | Reply

      Yes, education is a biggie! It’s been a major source of frusteration this past school year. We’ve never had so many fights or lost our temper than this year. I even started looking at rental houses back in my hometown area, thinking of leaving sooner rather than later. Our plan is to have our oldest get to middle school and then go to the USA for school, but not sure how that will work out exactly. But, I agree, R Zhao, education is worth talking about A LOT!

  2. Fred
    Fred July 24, 2015 at 3:31 pm | | Reply

    I can definitely relate to Chinese views on education. I recall that when I was young living in Hong Kong during the days of the British administration, my parents pressured me to study to no end. School was during the day followed by homework after school at times with a help of a private tutor, plus supplementary learning afterwards. Whew!!!!!! I was dying from the pressures. Then we had to immigrate to the West and the schooling in Canada was much lighter and more friendly. I enjoyed my time in the Canadian school system during my youth and teenage years and have fond memories. But I cannot say the same about my days when I was a young child student living in H.K.

  3. Sara
    Sara July 24, 2015 at 8:00 pm | | Reply

    Now at 6 months pregnant these are all questions and me and my husband have to consider. For some we have answers, for some the time will tell what is the right course of action.

    Also what R Zhao said above, choosing where to give birth is also very important and I’m in the process of finding the right hospital and doctor.

    Charlotte’s guest post actually inspired me to reply to these questions in blog post of my own, thank you!

    1. Fred
      Fred July 25, 2015 at 3:59 am | | Reply

      @ Sara.

      If I am not mistaken you are the Finnish girl who married ” a Chinese man. I read about you in your blog. Perhaps you and your husband can move to Finland where the schooling system is one of the best in the world. There is not much pollution there, unlike in China. The education system is ranked very high. The people there are friendly. The businesses are not cut-throat. The water is clean. There is good social safety net.

      Have you given consideration to this idea?

    2. Charlotte Edwards
      Charlotte Edwards July 26, 2015 at 1:59 pm | | Reply

      What a great post, Sara! Hope you find the a great hospital soon; my options were limited, so I don’t have any experience with that.

      My husband often reads reports of how good the education (and general welfare) system is in Finland and says that maybe we should move there. Then he remembers exactly where it is on the globe and decides against it…he’s not one for cold weather. 🙁

    3. Autumn
      Autumn July 26, 2015 at 10:57 pm | | Reply

      Oh, yes, I have seen the amazing reports on the incredible Finnish schools, and how they manage to make school fun while staying globally competitive in education.

      Buy your husband some long underwear, an electric blanket, and move. 😉

  4. Timo
    Timo July 24, 2015 at 9:07 pm | | Reply

    Though we didnt have our child in China we had my dear mother-in-law with us for three months during the time. It was rather hard to understand for her that her own daughter would not follow Chinese traditions. She tried to pressure her to drink all kind of soups to have more milk even though my wife had more than enough, in fact after drinking some of the stuff she often got an infection and later our doctor in Finland told us that this kind of oily food is counterproductive when it comes to milk production (which was later repeated by a Chinese doctor but Chinese prefer appearently to follow traditions rather than science).
    In the end we succeeded and even MIL is rather fond of our “Western” upbringing of our son as he has developed rather well and in late August we will be for a few weeks again in China so little Nathan can see also his Chinese grandfather and great grandmother

    1. Charlotte
      Charlotte July 25, 2015 at 5:41 am | | Reply

      Wow! I’m just ending a two week stay with sister and brother in law, another sis in law, their kids and father in law…I admire you for three months of enduring all the cultural things that come along for the trip! Congratulations on your baby! My son’s name is Nathaniel, great name choice for your little guy!
      Yes oily soups are hard to handle and they do love tradition!
      Hope your upcoming trip is wonderful!

      1. Timo
        Timo July 27, 2015 at 1:31 am | | Reply

        We came up with the name due to the Olympic Gold medalist in 100m freestyle Nathan Adrian (I was a professional swimmer myself until 5 years ago). Besides Nathan he also got two middle names Yiran Antti (Chinese and then a Finnish name to cover up most languages we speak 🙂 )
        My mother-in-law just stayed with us again for three months untill two weeks ago, her second time since Nathan is born but thankfully we got a bigger apartment these days, back then we only had 40sqm!

        1. Autumn
          Autumn July 27, 2015 at 3:53 am | | Reply

          I love that you named your son after Nathan “Bok Choi” Adrian! We loved watching him in the Olympics. Also Matt Grevers, who is a monster of a swimmer. 🙂

          1. Timo
            Timo July 27, 2015 at 8:26 pm |

            Oh yes, the London Olympics were great but nothing compared to the 4x100m freestyle at the Beijing Olympics with incredible Jason Lezak storming down the last meters and beating France 😀

  5. Autumn
    Autumn July 24, 2015 at 10:56 pm | | Reply

    Oooooohhhh, more interesting information and questions I never thought of!

    In my Chinese-American husband’s family, it seems traditional that the Chinese grandparents give the American-born children a Chinese middle name as well.

    I am curious as to whether Charlotte took her husband’s name or not. I’m not a fan of the custom, but I think if there’s going to be international travel, it might be helpful to have all the surnames match on passports.

    1. Charlotte
      Charlotte July 25, 2015 at 5:32 am | | Reply

      Yes, I’ve found it quite common for grandparents or other family to choose the baby’s name. My husband named his oldest nephew…but then the baby’s patents bought some software that told the “luckiness” of a name and found it to be unacceptable. So they changed it.
      I’ve not changed my name legally, though I’d like to. It’s a whole lot of hassle from what I can tell. But when we got married all my documents for teaching were with my maiden name and getting a new passport number (which Americans get when they get a new passport) is like a sin to Chinese, it’s just a hassle is rather not deal with now. When we go back to the USA I’ll probably change it though.

  6. Susan Blumberg-Kason
    Susan Blumberg-Kason July 25, 2015 at 6:32 am | | Reply

    Other issues I experienced including which religion to raise your child in if one of you was raised in a certain religion and the other wasn’t. Also, if your baby is a boy and your religion and/or home country believes in circumcision, but it’s not a practice in China, what will you do? Will the Chinese inlaws expect to take care of your baby–in China? Lots of things to discuss!

    1. R Zhao
      R Zhao July 25, 2015 at 7:43 am | | Reply

      @Susan, yes, this is one I always forget about–circumcision. I’m not religious, but coming from the US where it is a common practice, I considered having it done. In the end, it wasn’t even an option and my Chinese doctor looked at me like I was crazy!

      1. Susan Blumberg-Kason
        Susan Blumberg-Kason July 25, 2015 at 8:24 am | | Reply

        Yeah, it has been a topic that comes up when I speak to book groups about my memoir. It’s such a divided issue oftentimes and one that is permanent unlike where you’ll live or what kind of post-partum practices you’ll accept.

    2. Charlotte Edwards
      Charlotte Edwards July 26, 2015 at 1:56 pm | | Reply

      Oh, those are good ones, Susan!
      Our son isn’t, since husband said that no Chinese babies have it done. He also wasn’t raised with a religion, so I’m free to bring them up with my faith.

  7. Olga
    Olga July 25, 2015 at 9:53 pm | | Reply

    I have spent so many 3-month periods with my in laws, either in China or in my country, I have truly lost count (I am right now in the middle of one of those stays).

    Having kids is a life changing event in life in any country of the world, but if you have to deal with very traditional Chinese in laws (like mine), it will probably be much more stressful than it should, specially if you don’t want to comply with certain Chinese traditions/myths/superstitions.

    I have refused to do any of the zuoyuezi commandments after having my kids, much to my mother in law’s discontent. Luckily I have a very supportive husband, and my iin laws have yet another grandson to orbit around.

    PS: My Mother in Law made my brother in law and his wife change the name of their kid several weeks after he was born. The first name they chose was not auspicious enough.

    1. Charlotte Edwards
      Charlotte Edwards July 26, 2015 at 2:03 pm | | Reply

      Hope your stay with the in-laws is going well; I just came home from two weeks with a strange mix of the in-laws (everyone but mother in law, my husband and one brother in law) and feel that this has been my most “real China” experience to date, even after nine years of living here.
      I would have enjoyed being taken care of during the zuoyuezi more if it had been my mom here, I didn’t really know MIL and could barely speak any Chinese at that time. The second one was better, but I still broke a lot of her rules 🙂

  8. Pamela
    Pamela February 19, 2016 at 7:35 am | | Reply

    Hi there! I’ve been following Jocelyn’s blog for many years now, maybe 5. More recently I’ve been also reading Sara’s blog, love both 🙂

    I’m from Costa Rica and I’ve been living in Beijing for over 2 years. I’ve been dating my Chinese boyfriend for 15 months and ever since the beginning we had a great connection and wanted to build a family together.

    This Spring Festival, my bf was finally able to tell his parents about me, where his mom was kinda neutral at first, but when his dad totally opposed she sided with him. One of the arguments, -besides me not being Chinese-, is that if we have babies they wont have a hukou and therefore not a good education or healthcare.

    And I know this post is about having kids in China, but I would also like to use this opportunity to ask for advice and read your comments on the topic of in laws not accepting the relationship. My bf lived, studied and worked in the States for 6 years, so I thought his parents would be the open minded type. The problem is that months ago his dad found out he has an advanced stage cancer and apparently he became more strict about things after that. In consequense, my bf is going through an internal fight of following his heart but also not wanting to hurt his dad, plus looking for a better job and all this has given him lots of pressure.

    Thank you in advance for your comments!

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