The women's federation in east China's Jiangsu Province recently carried out a survey to examine the changes that have taken place in the structure and situation of local families and their development.
Diversification of Family Values
According to the survey, over half of the respondents considered the family as a unit primarily to educate children and support seniors, followed by "economic security" (25.3 percent) and "love and emotional ties" (23.8 percent).
In addition, the report points to changes in the traditional ideas of the purpose of the family, since only 12.1 percent of respondents chose "fertility" as the main family function.
In particular, since the nuclear single child family pattern has been considered as an ideal in the era of the One-Child Policy, the new family planning rules have been met with a cold response from Jiangsu women of child-bearing age.
Many complained that having another child may affect their life quality in regards to leading to a heavy economic burden on childcare as well as being disruptive to their career.
Stubborn Gender Distribution in Domestic Sphere
Besides, the naturalized breadwinner-homemaker model still seemed to be prevalent in most modern families in Jiangsu, according to the report.
Over 75 percent of respondents believed that women (wives, mothers or mothers- in-law) should take on the bulk of responsibility for doing household chores.
In addition, the traditional gender distribution in terms of household chores has failed to change, and has even been internalized into female's thoughts, said authors.
Figures from the report further implied that the proportion of women holding the view that the responsibility of educating children belongs to females is 5.7 percent higher than that of men.
Public Support on Children's Education Needed for Low-Income, Migrant Families
Data from the survey indicated that children's education expenses accounted for 38.9 percent of household spending on average. Since nearly all families prefer to have no more than two children, parents nowadays tend to pay more attention to each child, which contributes to the rising of costs of child-rearing.
Meanwhile, family education lacks systematic and scientific guidance, noted the research authors.
Precisely, about 42 percent of parents in Jiangsu still educate children relying on the older generation's experiences. Nearly 9 percent of respondents said that they have no time to learn the knowledge for family education.
Experts assumed that without sufficient social assistance of home learning for low-income families, detrimental influences will be brought on disadvantaged children, especially those with migrant parents who live far away from home.
More Empty-Nest Families with Shrinking Family Values of Supporting Seniors
With the severe aging problem in Jiangsu Province and the fast pace of urbanization in the whole of China, there are an increasing number of so-called "empty-nest" seniors, weakening kinship relations.
Although 84.3 percent of people expressed the willingness to pay more frequent visits to see their parents, long distances reduce such a possibility since only 53.7 percent of adult children live with their parents.
In addition, the report further suggest that respondents prefer to spend more money on their children than on their parents, and the higher their income, the lower amount of time they spend on looking after the elderly.
Popularity of Internet Weakens Emotional Ties Within Family Members
In terms of family entertainment activities, about 72.5 percent of families prefer to watch TV or films together, following by traveling (22.6 percent) and surfing online (19.9 percent).
In particular, in terms of the development of the internet, on the one hand, it enables family members to communicate with each other throughout the day. On the other hand, 17.5 percent of respondents believed that chatting online reduces the frequency of face-to-face communication and thereby weakens family members' emotional bonds.
Juggling Work and Family Due to Unaffordable Public Family Services
Due to limited time and a shortage of support from outside the home, it is much more difficult to maintain an adequate work-family balance, say experts.
About 72 percent of respondents suggest that employers should help their staff with balancing work and family. This was reported as especially urgent among high-earning, urban households.
Meanwhile, respondents said that household services such as childminders and cleaners cannot ease people's demands mainly due to the high price involved.
Insufficient Practices of Family Construction
According to the report, 80.6 percent of the respondents expressed that they felt there was weak public support in terms of family construction. Nearly 70 percent claimed that the government should enact urgent policies and measures to support family development, especially in rural regions and northern parts of the province.
Experts have urgently called for the establishment of relevant family welfare policies and a social security system to help tackle problems such as China's aging population and reliance on the nuclear family structure.
(Source: China Women's News/Translated and edited by Women of China)