Parents are known to embarrass their children, but one Chinese mother took it to another level. To get the attention of her son, who's living in Melbourne, Australia, to convince him to come home for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, a Guangzhou, China-based mom took out a full-page ad on the front page of a local newspaper.
“I’ve called you many times, but you don’t answer. Maybe you will see this,” the letter said on the front page of local Chinese-language newspaper Chinese Melbourne Daily, addressed to her son, identified only as Peng. She goes on to apologize, saying “your mother and father won’t force you to marry again,” perhaps explaining the son’s silence. “Come home for Chinese New Year!” she finishes, before signing off. According to the local Ta Kung Pao newspaper, Peng’s parents had repeatedly tried to get him to return to China to find and marry a woman. Annoyed, Peng stopped answering their calls altogether.
In a desperate act, Peng’s mom, who remains anonymous, turned to the Chinese Melbourne Daily. The front page of newspaper, which has a circulation of 18,000, costs approximately $3,915 Australian, or roughly $3,440 US on a week day.
While, yes, the viral reaction to the public plea from Peng’s mom is enough for any child to get contact-embarrassed, what’s going on is a much larger cultural phenomenon. Particularly during the holiday season, the pressure to field questions and inquiries about dating, marriage and children from parents is at an all-time high for the year. Men and women in their prime marriage or baby-making days dread the awkward and inevitable questions of “why aren’t you married yet?” or “why don’t you have kids yet?”
During last year’s Lunar New Year holiday, some single women turned to e-commerce website Taobao and bought themselves some time -- literally. By “renting” boyfriends online for the holiday season, women who were focused on things other than their romantic relationships were able to stave off family pressure to be married by being part of a seemingly serious relationship.
However, for Peng at least, if he doesn’t visit or call his parents soon, he could get into some legal trouble. Last January, a law was passed by China’s Congress that required children to visit their elderly parents as a part of a series of amendments to the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly legislation. The amendment states that “family members who live separately from the elderly should visit them often” or risk being accused of “neglect.”