One Child Right Upfront
It is no wonder the 'octomom' story of Nadya Suleman, having delivered 8 babies in one egg-planting pregnancy and now a single mother of 14 children all iwwackily conceived, a human puppy pile if you will, was not widely reported here in China. When I told my students, they were in a way more astonished, more uncomprehending than the Zhuhaiyang Virgina Tech guillotiner story. (Yes, I am their tabloid.)
The Chinese are accepting of their one child fate--it really is difficult enough with one, financially and psychically, just as it has come to be everywhere else in the world. Every kid I see on the subway, the bus, looks secure and feels super-loved. Granted this is my projection, having seen so many a kid surrounded by parents and grandparents, particularly at the bundled up infant and toddler stage, everyone aglow, strangers happily interacting. It takes a mega-village...
There's lots of distractions, yes lots of this shocking pink for the girls, whole sections of malls just for kids, a wonderland of goods and shopping distinctly for the kids.
A friend of mine, Chen, who is an only child having lived in China til she was 6 and then grown up in Texas, told me that her only-child cousins don't seem as down to earth, as natural as her sibling'd aunts and uncles. There must be the bubble effect of the emperor, one in each household, where social skills are eclipsed or excused when you are the apple of so many people's eyes. But, as always, it depends on the parent's teaching, and there are as many kinds of kids as there are parents. Also, with all of the modernizing, (busy schedules, the new materialism) stuff can replace love when everyone is so busy.
The society and family are so watchful and regarding of the future generation that there is, for example, no law for legal drinking age. Not 21 or nor 18, none (yet).
There are still those families in the countryside that have more than one, and still privilege the son over the daughter, as they uphold feudalistic ideas. And there are those rich enough to live abroad, if they certainly insist on more than one (they can afford it too.)
But all in all, I see well-mannered kids. Schools play a huge part of disciplining students. The downside is that kids aren't given the freedom to play--studying is their first priority, coming from teachers and parents alike. Where play is not privileged, creativity and new ideas are spurned as well. (But without discipline, no matter how original you are, the ideas cannot fruit).
And in a society where adults are adults and are not constantly chasing youth, dreams or a second career, the kids understand how important they are for the future of their country.
They are taught uniformly, by rote, through obedience, and sheltered from information and works that they government deems inappropriate or too burdensome for them to hear, to know. In this was, the government is the third parent, the fifth grandparent.
Any way you slice it, marching first, marching forward, never alone.