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A Happy Family Life? Research Indicates Some Problems
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With just one child in the majority of families in China parents do their utmost to create a happy life them. However, there are still many high school students who aren't happy staying with their parents. This comes to light in a recent poll in four countries.



The poll was conducted among more than 7,000 high school students in China, Japan, South Korea and the US.


China had the smallest number of high school students who said they'd be happy to stay with their parents. The poll shows that 59 percent of Chinese students felt happy to be with their fathers while in the US, South Korea and Japan the figures were 68 percent, 65 percent and 64 percent respectively.   


Although Chinese mothers created more happiness than fathers the poll found they were still behind those in the other countries. In China 68 percent of high school students polled said they were happy having their mothers around. In the other countries the figures were: 76 percent in the US, 90 percent in Japan and 91 percent in South Korea.


"It's really a surprising result," said Sun Hongyan, an expert from the China Youth and Children Research Center. Sun is also the deputy head of the Chinese group who conducted the survey.


"Today's high school students in China, mostly the only kid in their families, have more time to stay with their parents compared with those families with more than one child in other countries," she said. "However, that doesn't mean they enjoy the time spent together with their parents. Chinese parents care too much about their school performance, their future and to get a college education."


Yin Meng, a high school student from the middle school affiliated with Beijing University of Chemical Technology (BUCT), echoed Sun in an interview with China Daily.


"I feel stressed to stay with my parents because they often have a very serious talk with me after each exam at school," Yin said. "They get alerted and try to find out the reasons every time my score drops, even very slightly. If they can relax I'll relax and become happier at home," she said. 


Actually students had already been troubled by their academic performance, as the poll showed, so it's probably more stressful to stay with parents who keep talking about study.


When asked, "What troubles you most?" 78 percent of Chinese chose study only behind South Korea with 84 percent. But just about half of students in Japan and the US regarded study as their biggest trouble.


Pressure to perform


In a recent news release from the China Youth and Children Research Center experts gave their explanation for the study-centered phenomenon.


"First, it's a tradition in China to attach great importance to young people's academic performance," the release stated.


"More important, (with so many people in our rapidly-developing country), competition is very intense, not only at school but also in society. Quite a lot of parents believe that high scores at school can lead the way to universities and to further success in finding a decent job after graduation."


Apart from parent pressure Chinese teen unhappiness was also linked to a lack of encouragement and poor communication within families, Sun said. "And our poll proves this."


The poll indicates Chinese parents make the least effort to display their happiness and pride toward their kids' efforts and achievements at school or in daily life.


Of those students polled in China 47 percent said their fathers praised them often while 65 percent chose their mothers. South Korean fathers and American mothers scored the highest marks for their generosity and praise for their children. It was important to praise children because it helped build self-esteem and self-confidence, Sun said.


The poll also revealed that Chinese parents talked less with their children. Japanese parents were most willing to talk to their children -- 53 percent of fathers and 93 percent of mothers. However, only 44 percent of Chinese fathers and 74 percent of mothers enjoyed talking with their youngsters.


The parents of Wang Qiuyi, another high school student from the middle school affiliated to the BUCT, try to set a good example for others as they talk frequently with their daughter. "I'm happy they often talk to me not only about my study but everything I'm interested in including my relationship with friends, funny things at school and anything that troubles me," she said.


Parents should spend more time sharing personal feelings and experiences, Sun suggests. With too much preaching about study parents can distance themselves from their children, she said.


Although Chinese high school students had problems with their parents most were happy with life, the poll showed.


In China 82 percent of high school students said they were happy, 83 percent in the US, 77 percent in Japan and 73 percent in South Korea.  


"The strong sense of happiness mainly comes from the care-free material life parents create for their children as well as their utmost devotion to satisfy the kids' needs," Sun said.


Yin Meng summed up the basis of her joy. "I'm happy because I know my parents love me so much and they work so hard to provide me with a better quality of life." 


(China Daily January 10, 2007)

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