Encouraging Story: I might (just might) have changed the taxi drivers mind. As always, taxi drivers are amazed when they see our family hop into a taxi with three little kids. Today was no exception...
"Are all three kids yours?"
"You must be tired!"
"Does your mom live here to help you take care of them?"
"Do you have a nanny?"
"You must be SO tired!"
These are all typical questions/comments we receive multiple times a day, and we realize its a huge mind-boggling thought for a young family to single-handedly raise three little girls in this country, especially in the northwest, where it isn't as modern. Even in prior to the "one child policy" grandparents have been the ones to spend the most time with the children, while parents worked to provide for their entire family (grandparents too). Two generations back, families were more likely to have 3-6 kids - but most of these parents (now grandparents) don't remember the amount of energy required to raise kids - because they weren't the primary ones doing it: Their parents did! Here's the breakdown of what its like to raise kids in China, even though this might be an over-generalization:
Parent's nowadays (23-40): They see our family, and assume we are nutty. One child is enough (energy, money, stress)! Social pressure is heavy, and there are even extra taxes depending on where you live. Parents typically don't learn much about parenting, because they rely on their parents to tell them what to do, and the majority of the parenting tasks are relinquished to them. But deep down, we sense some amazement when parents observe siblings playing, sharing & laughing together. This is something many Chinese kids don't experience at home.
Grandparents nowadays (45-79): They think we are crazy/tired, even though they had 3+ kids of their own. They never had to personally raise them. For many, raising their one-and-only grandchild is their first opportunity to "parent" a child. They care for the child while the parents work hard. They are eager to see their grandchild interact with ANY foreign kid, and push them to speak English early on. They are also somewhat protective with their grandchild, and very attentive to their needs. Pre-school aged children are always out-and-about with their grandma or grandpa enjoying life outside. Seeing grandparents doting over their grandchild makes me miss MY family, that's for sure!
Great-grandparents nowadays (80+): They always smile and give us a big "thumbs up." They know its hard work - but worth every minute!
But today - I ventured to challenge this taxi-drivers' thinking, and probe a bit further to see if he could see the intrinsic value of children. I began asking him if he wanted more kids, and asking questions why he could/couldn't make this choice. In the end - it mostly came down to money. I told him he could save a little each month... :) ....and he ended up saying, he might save for 2 years - and see if his wife would agree. One life at a time, right??