(December 30, 2013, Washington Post)
More than 61 million children — about one-fifth of the kids in China — live in villages without their parents. Most are the offspring of peasants who have flocked to cities in one of the largest migrations in human history. For three decades, the migrants’ cheap labor has fueled China’s rise as an economic juggernaut. But the city workers are so squeezed by high costs and long hours that many send their children to live with elderly relatives in the countryside.
This article, which came out 2 days later, looks at a different aspect of rearing children in China. For many families, it just isn’t feasible to live and work in the city as a parent. A huge number of children are ‘farmed off’ to grannies or aunts and uncles in the countryside to care for them while the parents struggle to get ahead in the cities. This picture of a 67 year-old couple taking care of their grandson in Shanxi province (where 10 other members of the family have left the village to find work) illustrates the issue.
Does this mean that Chinese parents don’t love their kids like we do in the West?
Hardly. But the choices that these parents have to make are being made in a culture where expectations are rising much faster than the incomes that can support them. Materialism is a popular god in China, and so far the church does not have a voice in the popular media to counterbalance it. Foreign teachers often get in discussions with their students about what is meaningful in life, and how making good choices as young adults can lead to good outcomes as married couples and parents. In a culture that puts little value on spiritual foundations, most students find it hard to articulate how they will arrive at their desired outcome of a happily married life with children and the prosperity to accompany it. Caring For China is seeking to recruit English teachers who have a call to bring the light of God’s love to a people who have been denied that light for two generations. As teachers, they can provide an environment where their students have the freedom to ask the questions that God is putting on their hearts. The answers they receive will change their lives and change their country. If someone you know is hearing such a call from God to go to China, please contact our coordinators, Cha Tackett Cha@CaringForChina.org or Noel Holly Noel@CaringForChina.org and they will follow up with the opportunities that are available right now.