Children and teenagers born into China’s one-child policy families are shunning their overbearing parents and the long-held ideals of family values, say education experts.
Many are joining in anti-parent online talk forums. And one group on the popular online community Douban.com, called ‘Parents are Poison’ has more than 12,000 members, reports Guangzhou-based newspaper Southern Weekly.
"It has been growing rapidly. I’m really surprised. At the beginning, it had about 20 people," Zhang Kun, the forum’s organiser, told China Radio International.
Topics children discuss on the site include advice on how they can avoid repeating their parents’ ‘failed lives,’ and tips on how to ‘fight against your parents.’
The forum was set up in January 2008, with the goal of protesting against parent’s rules.
Education experts say the group may have sprung from one of the unintended consequences of China’s one-child policy: strict parenting. The world’s most densely populated country set up its one-child per couple rule, to limit population growth. But a by-product of the law has meant many parents pile their own hopes and dreams onto their only child and many are starting to find that pressure suffocating.
"The traditional parent-child relationship in China is that parents have absolute power over their children," Tao Hongkai, an education expert at Huazhong Normal University, told Inter Press Service news agency. "Chinese parents always think ‘I gave birth to them,’ so children have to do whatever the parents say."
He says values are changing among younger Chinese people, as shown for example by a string of protests at factories belonging to foreign companies.
"Young people don’t want to lead the life their parents have already assigned to them, the one their parents will force them to accept," he said.
Bai Cai is a member of the popular Internet forum. He is angry at how his parents forced him to do calligraphy, which he feels is useless in the computer age. "Parents don’t know anything," Bai wrote on the forum. "They hold sceptical, even negative, attitudes about our decisions. If these parents aren’t a disaster for their children, who is?"
Improving the relationship between children and their parents in China would need better communication, said China University’s Yang Yang.
"Because of the one-child policy, parents put all their attention on the sole child, which puts huge amounts of pressure on the child," Yang said. "Parents can’t regard children as their private property."