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You Cannot Be Serious
   2015-02-02 14:59:18    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Xie Tingting

By Liu Yan (About the author)

Since local governments across China rolled out amendments to the one-child policy in 2014, about one million couples nationwide have seized the opportunity and filed applications to have a second child. What's not expected, however, is the sheer animosity some of those first children have toward their as-yet-unborn siblings.

A case in point is this eight-year-old girl in Henan that got the entire country talking. When she was told mom and dad were planning to give her a little brother or sister, she became very upset, and strongly opposed the idea. She later changed her mind, but had one condition - her parents must guarantee in writing that they would always love her most and put her needs above everything else. Surprisingly, the parents agreed. They wrote and signed a document stating just that. Underneath it, the daughter wrote "OK, I approve!" and signed her name. Here's the kicker: she added one sentence - Don't you dare erase this!

Let me do my best John McEnroe impression here: You cannot be serious!

I can sort of understand the insecurities this generation of "little emperors" feel when they suddenly face the possibility of a rival for their parents' affection. After all, it's a big change, and it hurts not to be the sole "center of the universe", so to speak. Shedding a few tears? Sure. Throwing a temper tantrum? Not great, but still acceptable. Threatening your parents to guarantee in writing, or else? I'm sorry, but that's going too far. Where does a child get off disrespecting adults like that?!

And quite frankly, feeling insecure does not give one a free pass to do outrageous things. Everybody feels insecure sometimes. Even the most successful, influential and glamorous celebrities on this planet have time and again confessed that they have moments of vulnerability where they feel like total losers. Imagine using that as an excuse and threatening others to always love them, or else. Not going to fly, is it?

As someone who takes writing seriously, I don't use random filler words and phrases just because they sound natural and help with the flow. So when I say I can sort of understand the insecurities of those "little emperors", that's exactly what I mean - I can sort of understand, but not really.

I'm the only child in my family, and I've never had a problem with the idea of having a sibling. In fact, nothing would make me happier if it became reality. (Obviously my parents decided one was enough, and I respect their choice.) Even from a purely selfish point of view, yes, you may have to compete for your parents' attention now, but you also have one more person in your life who will love you unconditionally, who can be your best friend and confidant, who can be your "partner in crime" and cook up mischievous schemes against your parents, and who can get you off the hook if they have better luck in love. (Anyone who's an unmarried single child in their 30s knows what I'm talking about. You inevitably feel like you have failed your parents.). Weighing the pros and cons, how can anyone not like the idea of having a sibling? It boggles my mind.

Seriously though, when it comes to family matters, being selfish is never the way to go. No child should be asking "What's in it for me?" and only get onboard after they figure having a sibling has more pros than cons for them. Bottom line, be respectful to your parents. They gave you life, raised you, fed you, supported you, and loved you no matter what. If they want to have a second child, the least you can do is have an open mind and try to be supportive.

Of course, it's not entirely realistic to ask an eight-year-old to be open-minded and supportive. Most kids are not precocious enough to understand such concepts. That's why it is vitally important for parents to put their foot down. Make it absolutely clear that the first child's concerns are taken into consideration, but ultimately, it is the parents' choice. Remember, the world does not revolve around you, and sometimes you just can't have your way, like it or lump it.

Therefore, I'm really more disappointed with the parents of that eight-year-old girl in Henan. How could they just go along with this ridiculous guarantee? How could they not even try to teach some sense into that self-centered spoiled brat? And to top it all off, the mother took a picture of the guarantee and posted it on Weibo, as if it was something worth bragging about. I simply can't wrap my head around it.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a similar, but more extreme case a week prior. A 13-year-old girl in Wuhan tried to prevent her mother from having a second child by threatening to kill herself. She actually succeeded. The mother was already 13 weeks pregnant, and she aborted the baby in tears.

Once again: You! Cannot! Be! Serious!

I don't care what kind of trouble I will get into for saying this, but that girl is seriously messed up. If I were her parent, I would totally call her bluff. I'd tell her: It's your life. If you are so hell-bent on ending it, I can't stop you. But don't expect me to murder your sibling just because you are unhappy.

Don't bother telling me I'm going to regret this if the girl really killed herself. First of all, I doubt she would go through with it. Just because a razor blade was found, it doesn't mean she was actually cutting her wrists. You'd be surprised how manipulative these me-generation children can be. Second, if she was really going to commit suicide over this, who's to say she won't do it again in the future? What if she threatens to kill herself if you don't buy her a new iPhone? If you don't give her more pocket money? If you don't allow her to smoke or drink?

Children need boundaries, and it's the role of a parent to define those boundaries. Yes, it takes courage to stand your ground, but no one says parenting is easy. Under no circumstances should anyone allow children to get what they want by any form of threatening. If you let it happen, like the parents that guaranteed in writing, or the parents that went through with the abortion, you are digging your own grave.

About the Author

Liu Yan is a best-selling author specializing in English learning and popular culture. Among his published works are English - The Real Deal (1 & 2) and Hold On, Sit Tight, Let's Enjoy This Cinematic Ride Together. He is also a long-time columnist for such esteemed magazines as English Language Learning and JoyRide English. In addition, Liu Yan is a commentator on social and cultural issues. He wants people to think of him as a trusted friend who can inform, educate and entertain all at the same time.

The opinions expressed here are only personal, and do not necessarily represent CRI's official policy.

Read all opinion stories by Liu Yan

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