A recent report portrayed the concerns and happiness of Chinese families with two children, indicating that fathers engaged more in childcare but that most couples are still confused about parenting two children.
"The Happiness Index on Having a Second Child Report" released on February 19 was co-conducted by a series of websites focusing on fertility and Radio Guangdong News Channel in south China's Guangdong Province.
Guangdong Population Development Research Institute and Guangzhou Women's Federation also provided professional guidance to the report.
The survey collected feedback from nearly 100,000 Chinese households with about 59 percent of them having two children. Nearly half of the second children were born after the universal two-child policy came into effect.
Two-Child Family with First-Child Depression?
According to the report, the majority of parents with two children surveyed believed that having siblings is beneficial to children's growth since their companionship can eliminate loneliness.
However, a large number of media reports caused many parents' concerns that their first child could suffer an emotional disturbance following the birth of a younger sibling.
The survey could allay parents' concerns to some extent.
According to the report, 44 percent of children in two-child families were fine with a younger sibling and only about 1.4 percent of children in two-child families could not accept a new sibling.
Compared to children's positive results, the situation of parents, especially mothers, seemed more disturbing.
The survey found that many mothers felt guilty towards the first child owing to failing to treat the two children fairly. Over half of mothers claimed that it is difficult to balance time and care for two children.
Experts suggested that parents should avoid giving too much attention to their second child and neglecting the feelings and needs of their fist child. If they provide the elder siblings with enough attention and love, the first child will be fine with the birth of the family's second child.
Parenting Issues in Two-Child Families
The survey also presented that parenting is another highlighted issue for parents in two-child families.
With the long-time implementation of the one-child policy, many parents felt confused about how to educate two children and how to deal with relations between their two kids.
According to the report, nearly 90 percent of respondents have no idea about the traditional parenting methods in Confucian thought.
For instance, about 77 percent of parents agreed with Confucian parenting instructions that siblings are supposed to show love and respect towards each other. However, nearly half of them misunderstood and believed that the elder brother or sister must share what they have with the younger one, which may be unfair to elder siblings and lead to conflicts in households.
Experts stated that since traditional parenting instructions have limited impact on young couples and they also have failed to receive any new scientific parenting methods either, families with two children need guidance for family education.
Gender Equality after the Birth of a Second Child
Regarding the achievements of gender equality after the universal two-child policy's adoption, on the one hand, the birth of the second child facilitated fathers' participation in child rearing, which is surprising but inspiring.
The report found that about 47 percent of husbands help more with child-raising after a second child.
On the other hand, gender bias in the workforce still exists and is even reinforced for mothers.
According to the survey, about 57 percent of mothers with two children said they had to quit their jobs for childcare. Less than 7 percent of mothers with two children thought they had better career prospects after a second child.
Mixed Feelings in Two-Child Families
For those respondents who already have two children, about 72 percent said that they would not consider having a third child even if the policy is changed to allow this in the future. Financial challenges and mental anxiety are main reasons for this.
Experts mentioned that the family structure in China is witnessing a transition from "4-2-1" to "4-2-2", which means a young couple should support four parents and raise two children, putting more strain on families.
Also, intergenerational conflicts on education norms are also highlighted since grand-parenting has been young Chinese couple's reluctant but ultimate choice when having one more child.
Despite greater strains and exhaustion on two-child families, Dong Yuzheng, the director of Guangdong Academy of Population Development, noted that great changes have taken place in people's attitudes during the one-year implementation of the universal two-child policy.
When asked about the ideal family size, over 80 percent of the respondents considered a family with two children as the ideal structure.
The report also indicated that about 60 percent of respondents said they were happier after having their second child and nearly 7 in 10 said they did not regret having another baby.
Zhu Yuzi, the executor of the survey analyzed that for Chinese parents, the happiness brought by having a second child goes hand in hand with their pressures in multiple sectors, thereby offsetting the burdens to some extent.
Experts: Further Improvement of Public Services and Supporting Policies Needed
Though the result of the report is positive, it also showed problems that needed to be solved with joint efforts made by the whole society including the government, enterprises, social organizations and communities to embrace the universal two-child era, said Dong.
Specifically, he called for governments to establish more nursing rooms for the convenience of local parents with young infants.
As Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong Province, has led the way and released its three-year plan for building up breastfeeding rooms in public places, other regions are urged to keep pace.
Authorities could also promote the establishment of public facilities, including nursing institutions, to benefit working parents.
In addition, from a legal perspective, officials should further promote regulations for the protection of women and children's interests and rights.
Furthermore, Dong added that related departments could formulate specific policies to eliminate overt and convert discrimination brought by women's reproduction.
(Source: Xinhua/Translated and edited by Women of China)