Date
18 December 2017
Chinese parents are doing everything they can for their elder children, so they don' feel neglected, or threatened by the new arrivals. Photo: Bloomberg
Chinese parents are doing everything they can for their elder children, so they don' feel neglected, or threatened by the new arrivals. Photo: Bloomberg

Parenting 101: How Chinese couples cope with a second child

Parents have been warming to China’s looser child policy but having overcome one of the harshest restrictions on family life, they’re grappling with a new set of problems.

Most of these parents are themselves an only child and would have been the center of attention in the family. Now those with a second child of their own are having to deal with issues such as jealousy and sibling rivalry, according to China Daily.

China’s family planning policy was introduced in the late 1970s to rein in a surging population by limiting most urban couples to one child.

In 2011, the restriction was relaxed for couples who were both an only child. It was further eased in November last year to allow couples to have a second child if either of them is an only child.

Parents are learning to improvise but they’re also getting help from professionals such as Mei Qixia, a mental health therapist with the Children’s Hospital of Chongqing Medical University.

The problem with the new family dynamic is due to a social norm, born out of more than 40 years of one-child policy, that has come to mean that the first child is the only child, so they have always received 100 percent of their parents’ love and attention, Mei said.

Ultimately, however, the parents have to take control of the problem.

Some are lavishing praise on the elder sibling for every good deed to the new arrival. Others are taking pains to explain to the older child that the younger sibling just takes a bit of looking after.

In all instances, the idea is to keep the older child from feeling neglected, says one parent, who has an older son.

“I want him to understand that having a sibling is a happy thing,” she said.

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