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Two Questions from users on Instagram


#1

Hi , @Constance_Fang @Fiona and the ChinesePod team, my question is this:

This is from 2 users on Instagram:

  1. What is your favorite Chinese dialect? And who is the best crosstalker in China?

  2. 请问 How are single parents viewed in different parts of China and Taiwan? What about single father’s where the mother isn’t around? How do you say “single parent” in Mandarin? 谢谢


#2

Question #2 was from me. Let me know if you need me to post it as a new thread. (Also apologies for the improper grammar. I didn’t notice the autocorrect from “single fathers” to “single father’s”).

So I asked that because I am a single parent. I’ve been one for over six years. I’ve only really spoken to one Chinese person from my Mandarin Meetup group about it, and she was surprised by how common divorce and co-parenting is in America (or at least New York City). Americans react to my situation in different ways as it is since it’s 100% just me and my daughter.

I’d like to visit Beijing or Shanghai some day, so I’m really curious how Chinese society views single dads.

Oh, and for @Fiona, I’d like to extend the question to Taiwan as well since it’s also a Mandarin-speaking country that my daughter and I might visit.


#3

I just asked my Taiwanese friend to answer this question, she said:

single parent 單親/單親家庭。 single mother 單親媽媽
single father 單親爸爸


#4

Ah thanks. Dictionaries usually just return “單親” for single parent. I didn’t know to add on “爸爸”.

I’m still very curious about the social stigma though. I deal with some anxiety sometimes, so it’s nice to have a heads up if I’m entering a situation in which I may be judged negatively. That way I can be aware of the general consensus so to speak, and approach the topic with that awareness if it comes up. I also just like to learn about cultural taboos.


#5

From my same friend:

“Nowadays, people still have strong traditional mindset. They think the family is incomplete if the children are in the single parent family. So normally women will try their best to stay in marriage for the kids, even though women have bully husband or their husband cheat on them”

I then asked her, well what about single fathers and she said

"I would say single mother is more than single father. Because it’s normal for male to remarry "

Sounds not too different from America. I’m not saying you are, but I personally wouldn’t worry about it at all. Have fun, let people accept you for who you are and if not pay em no mind. 加油


#6

Btw, this girl probably thinks I got kids now because of these question, lol.


#7

Thanks for asking your friend for me. I guess that’s kind of similar. It depends. In some parts of the US, I think people believe a separated family is “broken” and unnatural. In cities and otherwise more progressive areas, more people will divorce or break up and co-parent.

Over the years, most people have been surprised by my situation at first (once they realize I’m the full-time, solo parent, and not the usual weekend visiting single dad) and then seem to appreciate or respect it. Others seem to think I’ve done something wrong, or something is off. Overall, full-time single moms are definitely more common. Either way, it doesn’t feel good when I’m being judged or grilled for an explanation (yes it has happened) by people who have a very strict and traditional view on marriage and the family unit. Of course I just move on and as you said, pay them no mind, but it’s nice to know what to expect when entering a new and very different environment. I want to respect the culture’s overall beliefs and values (rather than judge them and push my values, since I would be the guest) while still maintaining respect and confidence for mine and my daughter’s situation.

Basically, if it was really frowned upon, I would think, “Our familial arrangement is not common here, and people generally don’t like it, but that’s ok. We don’t have to hide it or be ashamed, but we should also acknowledge the cultural values of the place we’re visiting and expect the possibility of a little awkwardness.”


#8

Just to add a new word in this domain. When a single parent get married again he creates a recomposed family 重组家庭 (重組家庭)。


#9

Hey there,

Nabeshima has some great suggestions, all of which I would say. 单亲 + mum or dad.

Regarding attitudes to single parenthood, I feel that it really depends on the socio-economic background of the person you are speaking to. A countryside auntie might have a very different opinion to a city gal. There are still imagined ideals of what a family should look like, but I think most people have a much more open mind to what modern families look like these days.

If anything, a single dad might be given more moral support than a single mum, as it may seem like he is doing something outside of his gender role, and therefore enduring more hard work. Childrearing is very much seen as a female role.

Single-mums have quite a hard time getting jobs and finding new partners, there are some terrible terms to describe single mums and their kids. But the lack of (bad or good) terms for single dads might just be that not enough attention and support is given to single dads in Taiwan.

I’m rambling a little at this point, but generally speaking, I think you and your daughter would be warmly welcomed in Taiwan. If anything, with some novelty (not necessarily a good thing but…hey ho…all single dad’s and mums should be given a thumbs-up).

Fi


#10

谢谢, Fiona!

(Blah blah blah. I have to type at least 20 characters)