Fathers adapt to changing times

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, November 14, 2018
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What role does a father play in the family? Traditionally in Chinese culture, fathers play a disciplinary role in raising children.

A boy vows to be a 'real man' during a session at the club. [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

"My father was an authority figure when I was a kid," said Zhou Changshui, a 26-year-old drum teacher.

In the past, being a disciplinarian meant many fathers deliberately kept a distance between themselves and their children. Also, in the past it was customary for fathers to go out to work while mothers stayed at home to look after the children and do housework.

A reality television show called Dad, Where are We Going? put the spotlight on father-child relationships, scoring big ratings from the moment it debuted.

In the show, celebrity fathers took their children on trips to rural areas around China, and some unwittingly revealed how inexperienced they were at taking care of their kids. While the show generated plenty of comedic episodes, there were also many tender father-and-child moments that touched audiences.

The show's popularity prompted a debate about how fathers should raise their children now that women no longer need to rely on men to be breadwinners, and what sort of role models fathers should be for their children in today's changing society.

Zhou, who has a 2-year-old son, said he is still learning to get along with the toddler. However, he is more involved in family life than his own father was, and he and his wife often discuss how best to raise and educate their son.

Certainly, Zhou has a different view on raising children than his own father did, and hopes to build more than just a father-son relationship with his boy.

"I want to be friends with my son," he said, adding that it would make no difference if he were raising a boy or girl.

That view was shared by Yu Zhichao. The 33-year-old China Post employee said he raises his 8-year-old daughter the same way he would raise a son, and he gives her preferences full respect.

Nowadays, more couples see raising their children as a shared responsibility.

"After all, both mother and father are equally busy," Yu said.

That means fathers are now spending more time with their children, which will be welcome news to those who think that boys being raised solely by women is producing a nation of "sissies".

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