Four Generations under One Roof
- one of the greatest Chinese novels written by Lao She
China used to be a society that esteemed highly the value
of big family with several generations living under one
But since earlier last century, this thousands-year old
custom has been rendered into oblivion in the urban areas,
and by the end of the millennium, it began to fade in the
vast countryside. Yet oddly, two decades into the era of
one child per family, at least in theory (in reality, it
has little affect in countryside and does not apply to
minority ethnic people), big family quietly makes a comeback.
When the only childs start to get married and have their
own only child, many of them keep living with their parents,
but with a modern twist, that is, instead of living with
HIS parents, they opt to live with HERS. In other words,
a man marries into a woman’s family.
It is said that there are three reasons for embracing
this kind of living arrangement, which is particularly
popular in Shanghai.
The first reason lies squarely in the domain of economics.
In recent ten years, Shanghai has been transformed beyond
the recognition, with splendid new commercial skyscrapers
and luxury real estates emerging everywhere. The transformation,
however, is often not to the benefit of the ordinary local
population, but some corrupted government officials, many
greedy property developers and a certain number of foreign
architects who have little respect for and even less knowledge
about Chinese culture and conditions. Unbalanced growth
as such pushed into formation by former Shanghai chief
Chen Liangyu and his associates has resulted in relatively
high vacancy rate for office buildings and luxury villas
on the one hand, while on the other hand, young families
finding it harder and harder to afford their own nest.
That leaves living in parents’ home after marriage becomes
a better, sometimes the only, option for a lot of young
The second reason has much to do with China’s one child
policy. Grown up as only child and spoiled by their parents
and grandparents, a great number of young Chinese couples
lack basic skills to run their own family. Surely it helps
if their parents can keep doing housework for them.
Finally, it is said due to the gradual return to the traditional
social values. Respecting and caring for one’s parents
(and grandparents) are once again considered as admirable
virtue, and many young people are keen to live with their
elderly so they can take the best care of them.
And the last reason may have profound implications, particularly
in the country with its population that is rapidly aging.
Steps to Paradise-Part 2