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Experts: Parent Roles A Worry

Grandparents are playing a greater role in raising kids in China's big cities while parenting differences between the two generations worries experts.

A new survey report released by Shanghai Women's Federation shows that, in half of the families polled, grandparents bore the main responsibility for raising children.

In two-thirds of the families, grandparents and parents couldn't reach an agreement on how to raise the child, according to the survey that covered 2,000 households in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. It also showed in Shanghai, 65 percent of young parents spent less than three hours with their children each day.

It is common in China that both parents work. After a legal 90 day maternity leave, female workers go back to the job, leaving them with limited time with their child.

In addition, young couples lack of knowledge and experience in child-rearing also led to more cases of grandparents raising their grandchild, according to experts who found the usually different parenting methods between the two generations worrisome.

The elderly, for instance, preferred to raise infants according to their experience. Young people, in contrast, tended to trust books, experts and Internet information more.

"I found the way I instruct my grandson is quite different from my son," said Zhou Ren, a grandfather in Guilin, a tourist city in the southwest Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. For example, he always reminded his grandson Songsong to take specific books to school. He also checked his schoolbag to ensure the order was followed, while his son left the boy to do all this himself.

The elderly, however, seldom paid close attention to children's psychological health and needs, said Yue Shanyao, a researcher of Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences.

Yue believed grand-parenting had its advantages. Compared with the young, the elderly had more time and patience to raise kids. The process would also make the elderly feel their life was enriched.

(Xinhua News Agency October 19, 2008)

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