Raising a Child in China: Mixed Blood Prince

This post is Part Nine in a Series, to go to the previous post, click here. To go to the beginning of the series, click here.

This morning I stepped into the elevator and noticed a good looking young kid, maybe seven or eight years old, with slightly brownish dyed hair and an unmistakable curve to his features that told me he wasn’t all Asian. His grandmother was right behind him and he kept his head down when I entered, but his grandma perked right up and got the face many grandmas get here when they catch a foreigner near their grandchild. The expression of hope (oh please please let my child become friends with this foreigner) and fear  (oh no oh no what do I do, how do I act?) that tends to mortify the kids.

Naturally, I left the kid alone because his body language told me that he didn’t want to be noticed right now. But his grandma wouldn’t leave it alone and said,

“Hey, it’s your Lao Xiang (someone from your hometown)!”

“Not necessarily,” the kid grumbled.

“Yeah I could be from Germany,” I said.

“He’s from Los Angeles!”

“Oh yeah? You speak English?”

No answer.

As we left the elevator I looked back at him again as he clutched his grandmas arm tightly and avoided my gaze. I asked him again if he spoke English and they replied yes in unison, grandma loudly with obvious pride and the youth in a whisper with a slight blush. Then they were gone. I watched them go and I couldn’t help but notice how tightly he squeezed grandma as he went and how obvious his unique looks were among the crowd of kids filing into the school yard.

My Reaction

DorianThis was a brief interaction that took all of one minute, but it got me thinking. I would wager that the kid does not flaunt his mixed-blood status and tries to deflect it any time it comes at him. I also suspect everyone in the school knows he is a mixed-blood and there is probably a group that calls him hun xue’er (biracial) — maybe not the other kids, but someone sure does and not necessarily in a bad way. They probably mean it as a mark of distinction. As something that not only sets him apart, but sets him above the rest.

I bet that kid was raised here in China by his grandparents and he is desperate to be normal like everyone else but deep down he knows he’s not and he’s been treated with deference all his life and I just tried to get into that mind state and figure out what I could do to help, because I got a little mixed-blood of my own and I see how this society treats him.

They love him too much.

Little Mixed Blood Treasure

Wherever we go, we get looked at. Every woman within 100 meters peers into my arms or into the stroller to catch a glimpse of our son and when they see him they always squeal. Then they look at us and ask the obvious, is he a mixed blood? And when we nod with that tired polite but still proud smile they coo and dip in for a closer look. As soon as one lady dips in, every other lady on the street who has been surreptitiously watching scurries over to get a look too.

My son is a ham. He is a good looking kid and he loves the ladies and loves to smile. He has two dimples and long eyelashes so the ladies always go wild when he flashes that three-tooth grin at them. They all clamour to hold him and the cool thing is, we know it’s all good. We’ve been to dozens of restaurants where the boss lady has taken him out of our arms and paraded his grinning little ass all around the shop for everyone to squeeze and coo over. They clap their hands at him; ladies jostle to be next in line to squeeze him; men gather around and praise his alert eyes and long legs. He’s perfectly safe in their arms.

Then the inevitable comparisons come:

“Mixed blood kids are smarter.”

“They are stronger too.”

“‘Chinese kids can’t handle the cold like mixed blood kids can, notice they don’t dress him up as thick?”

“Yeah and I bet they don’t use baby formula either do you?”

We confirm that no, Momma breastfed him.

“See? That’s why his skin is so soft and white!”

“And his eyes are so alert and lively!”

“And his grip is so strong!”

“Look at those dimples!”

And on and on while my son just grins like a fool and tries to bury his head into every woman’s bosom.

We definitely take advantage of it. When he’s getting tossed back and forth, we gobble food down as quickly as possible because when he’s around one of us (usually Mom) has to hold him and eat at the same time. It ain’t easy. My wife positively relies on the kindness of strangers. She’s been frequenting a post-natal treatment clinic recently and the nurses take care of Mom and her son.

Its perfect for her because the nurses can’t get enough of him and he can’t get enough of them. She gets her massages on and there is no question that he is in good hands. Win-Win right?

Dorian

Special vs. Strange

The people on the street never show even the tiniest inkling of animosity, racism or jealousy to my boy when they see him. They treat him like a treasure and if I gave him the chance, he could probably get every one of those old ladies to give him a cookie every time he happened by. Maybe I should teach him to hustle his Otherness …

But something doesn’t feel right. Just like when I am the superstar here in China, I know its not real. I’m just different and the way I get treated here — no matter how much respect and love might be behind it — its not because of me, its because of some skewed perception of race and status and class. And therefore it’s all fake. Maybe I should teach him hide his Otherness …

I’m not sure if I want my son to grow up special/strange in China, where concepts of class and race are so one-dimensional. My wife is certainly against it. She wants him to grow up in a multi-cultural type of environment where his bloodline doesn’t really mean that much. So do I actually. Maybe I should take him to where he is not considered to be the Other …

Conclusion

When I was a kid in fifth grade, my teacher Ms. Ewart had a Third World Breakfast and I happened to sit at the First World table. Our table had ham and eggs and toast and juice but the other tables had gruel or just plain water. Instead of sharing my stuff with them, I led the gloating parade around the classroom. I threw pieces of my left over sausage on one table. I laughed the loudest and hooted the most. It was pretty bad and when I finally came to my senses I was so ashamed of myself that I broke down and cried in the boys room instead of staying in class and listening to the other kids read out the essays describing their feelings about the exercise. I knew what they would say; I was the example that helped teach everyone that day about power, class and greed.

I want my son to learn what I learned that day. I just hope he can learn from his old man’s mistakes so he doesn’t end up holding shameful acts in his memory for 20 years or being too fearful to answer for himself when someone asks if he can speak his daddy’s language. Maybe I should just make sure he knows me real well.

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About Sascha

Sascha Matuszak is a writer and commentator on domestic and international culture and politics. After living in Chengdu on and off for twelve years, he now lives in Minneapolis.

91 Responses to “Raising a Child in China: Mixed Blood Prince”

  1. Have you noticed this special treatment affecting his behavior yet? It’s probably too early to tell.

    • he smiles a lot hahaha

      • We’ve got a mix-blood boy too. I’m Chinese,his father is British. We both have work,so I have to ask my parents to look after our little boy. But there is sometimes when I have diffenent opinions of educating him with my parents and with my husband. I’m SO confused right now. No idea what is right for him. And what I’m sure is everybody in my family is doing good to him.
        He loves to smile, so he gets much attention in public.
        My husband and I both would like to go back to England, but for some reasons, we can’t yet.
        So I’m always wondering what we should do with a mix-blood child in China.

        • well. its real tough because your parents probably have VERY IRON views about what to teach him and those views might not be proper for an international kid like yours.

          We will not put him through Chinese school no matter what and we try and keep him with us as much as possible not because we know best, but because the older generation tends to be …. strange man. they are big on punishing little kids for the slightest thing (dont do this, dont do that) they like to instill character traits right away to help kids conform, they are very cautious and fearful sometimes …

          of course not all of the older generation here is like that, but my father in law taught my wife to “never reveal the truth” to people when she was little. that has a lot to do with how he grew up.

          so. we try and let our son grow up as free from that as possible, let him just learn and stuff. its tough. because there aint nothing going on in the US for jobs and prob not in the Uk either, but the life and society are more modern there …

          • Thanks for your reply, Sascha. We spend time with our son as much as possible. I agree that my parents are like what you said, you know,tell him not to do this or that, which I disagree terribly. And there’re a few times when I fall out with my parents for this reason. I appreciate how much they help me. When we go out to work, at least we’re sure he’s very safe with them, not a Chinese nanny we don’t know at all. Everything has two sides. So now our plan is that we’ll look after our son, not my parents when he goes to a kindergarten. By then, he’ll be ok in a kindergarten. We pick him up there. It sounds great to me. Our ideal life is to live in England.

        • China will become the future, china have the whole world market, in 20 years from now people in China will have it better in England. Not to mention that China have almost buy the whole worlds resources.

          So my advice to you is to teach him in the Chinese way, he will be more benefit of it.

          • Wassup DAWG,

            well having all of the world’s resources or the whole world’s market or a lifestyle better than England (all of which are very tall statements) is not really the issue here. IN fact, you thinking it is IS the issue. If you can understand my words, then you might understand why we are concerned about raising a kid here.

            For me and my family, the issue is an education that creates a strong individual, a good person, someone moral and upright, someone who feels sympathy and is not easily swayed by someone’s propaganda, a person who loves his country, but loves the world and everything in it just a little bit more, a person who is baffled by prejudice and racism because he isn’t sure how or why any one could be prejudiced or racist. In short, one helluva cool guy. And that’s not what the Chinese education system is umping out.

            In China, the kids who graduate tend to be very sensitive to authority and conformity. They tend to be curious but solidly ignorant about anything outside of their college dorm. They tend to be easily influenced by the State and have difficulty influencing themselves with their own mind. They retreat into caution and tradition. They are brainwashed more so than other people in other nations, save perhaps Iran, DPRK and Burma.

            Actually, the key here is not “the CHinese Way” (define that for me please) or any other way, but a solid community of people living anywhere. It could be Sudan, as long as the community is tight and supportive. For now, my community consists of three people and the Internet .. sigh …

  2. Nice article. We had a taste of the ladies fussing over our adopted Chinese daughter, we are Anglos. Everywhere we went they were swarming us, trying to get a good look and exclaiming “lucky baby” and thumbs up. They are are no boundaries but are so sweet and excited about the whole thing. We were different for sure.

  3. Each time I bring my daughter back to China, she is like a super-star, surrounded by excited people, photos taken, her cheeks squeezed… She enjoys the attention, and acts like a celebrity. It bothers me though: she is not an animal in the zoo!

    • got to agree, my little fella got a standing ovation when he got on the plane. ten hours or clapping hands and mauling the poor kid. we live in Ireland full time now and am much happier with the lifestyle here. also i would have have to agree with the thoughts on the educational system, i would never put my son through it. miss the wonderful food though…..

  4. but they’re not celebrities. once they’re back in normal society, they might feel a letdown.
    that will mess with their personality.

  5. “Maybe I should take him to where he is not considered to be the Other …”

    You know that’s really the only viable option, right?

    On a side note, how will you handle the patriotic education aspect of his time in Chinese school?

  6. well our decision is pretty much made, no way in hell is stinky staying here passed 2 years of age. this essay is for all the mixed bloods, so they can see why we would not let him stay here to be twisted

    • Ray

      i know this might piss off some of you guys with kids here, but i sometimes feel it’s a little unfair to the kids raising them in china (especially if they were born or have lived in the west). I just look at the pollution, lack of public space, crowds, concerns about food and product safety and wonder how the kids deal with it. i love it here and feel i have a good life, but if i had a little one, man, i’d be back home….

      • One year late, but the subject remains actual. We live in Shekou, which is a bit out of the ordinary, since the number of mixed blooded kids (Chinese-foreign) here is probably the highest in the world. Our daughter is playing with Chinese, mixed blooded and foreign kids alike, but where she plays harmoniously with other hunxue and laowai kids, playing with Chinese kids always leads to trouble and crying. And the bad behaviour (or poor education!!!) of Chinese kids sticks on her. She picked up screaming and yelling if she doesn’t get her way, because she sees a 3 y/o Chinese boy on the square do that and then he gets whatever he wants… Too bad for her it doesn’t work on us.

        We’re staying here. But we will definitely not send her to school here. We’ll send her to Hong Kong. Because the entire attitude is different, children learn discipline there. It helps that she’s born there so has the HK ID. But even if not, neither me nor my wife will consider school education in China – at least not before she’s 12 years old.

        • We deal with the same thing at our home. We opened up a small “home baby group” for a bunch of kids and it was disturbing to see what the kids picked up from each other — a lot of fighting and no sharing. But with work, we overcame a lot of that and now former enemies kiss when they meet 😉

          That was the point of the group after all

    • i have made the same decision, sad but my family is first.

  7. Fair enough, mate. NOT busting chops, but would not have gotten that feeling from your post unless you had expressly said so.

    I’m in the same boat, man. Leaving next year before the little one hits three.

  8. i didn’t feel like my chops were getting busted 😉

  9. Good article. A wanting of mixed-blood children almost ruins a life of one of my friends. She has mixed-blood babies now but in a miserable marriage. She enjoys the way that her babies are surrounded by Chinese strangers on the street just like what she used to do before, but she’s away from all her old friends who know her real situation. So sad! How much I wish she could read your article and feel something real inside for the sake of love.

  10. “Maybe I should take him to where he is not considered to be the Other”

    Even if your son is in a multiracial society, he may still be/feel othered at times. Most importantly is creating a family environment where he can feel he undeniably belongs. That’s what my folks did. I have a Taiwanese mother and a German-American father. I was born and raised in Taiwan until I was six and we moved back to the states.

    Your son is very fortunate that you are so sensitive to issues of race, culture, identity, and power. Your sensitivity and insight will go a long way.

  11. As a mixed blood myself I know that in order to be ‘Chinese’ you can’t be raised in China. Chinese mentality/discipline is harsh, is good, you learn how to roll with the punches. But in order to raise a child like this, I think China is not the place for a mixedblooded/foreign kid. My mom raised me with Chinese mentality, my dad with the western, this can conflict but in the end its one of the best combo’s. Same with me, when I’m in China, attention everywhere and compliments are literally thrown at you [帅哥]. I think the difference is, when you were raised in this situation, it is hard to learn ‘the reality, “to roll with the punches” ‘
    I feel good when people make compliments, but things are not getting me flying. I know what the reality is and I learned to respect people like they respect me when I’m in China.

  12. yeah i think a mixed blood boy here might grow up soft and a mixed blood girl would probably leave the country as soon as she could … that’s just the exp i have gathered tho … be nice to hear from a mixed blood girl living in china …

  13. maybe we should come up with a better term than mixed blood … any suggestions?

    • I have a mixed blood girl and boy. I grew up in Chendu and have lived in the States for almost 20 years now. My husband is German American. We do try to visit China and Chengdu every 2-3 years. Now our daughter is 7 and son is 4. They do get ton of attention everytime we are back in China and it was all good. But I agree, I would not want them to be raised in China as the attention is not always good for them. It is more normal environment here in the U.S. where interacial children and families are everywhere and they are not treated so differently. They will have a much better sense of who they are. Hoepfully they will be judeged more by their characters and not their looks. Great article.

  14. Ray

    I know in theory the idea that “I will raise my chid with a mix of both western and chinese culture” sounds good, but in reality, i think it’s problematic. I don’t know, i’ve ony raised a cat here, and my ex used to say “you treat your cat like a prince!”. I always replied “He is an Australian cat, NOT a Chinese one!” (hence he can sleep on the bed etc..) sorry, i’m getting off the topic here…

  15. @Franny
    If you can’t afford to have a child that you can raise on your own then you shouldn’t have children. This goes for anyone, IMO.

    Sorry…I know that sounds harsh but the grandparents should NOT be raising the child. The mother and father should be. I know, I know…what do we ‘big noses’ know anyhow.

    Just one man’s opinion.

    • man i don’t know where i stand on this thing. i think grandparents should absolutely be involved, but its the extent to which they are that is slightly blurry. I am not in favor of passing the kid off to them, but it can be so tempting sometimes just so you can get a day or two off.

      I think, ideally, the grandparents live close, but not WITH you. That way they are always there, but not 😉

      @Franny
      good luck sweetness, I have always loved the way Chinese grandparents dote — but if they could just knock off all of the crazy personality molding then it would be perfect …

      • “I think, ideally, the grandparents live close, but not WITH you. That way they are always there, but not ;)”

        But you know that never, EVER happens in China, mate.

        They are like helicopter parents and the Randy Quaid family combined…they settle in and never EVER leave. Why the hell do they want to go back to the farm?? Free ma jiang and central heating!

        Just awful. So glad my parents are…um…actually working and too busy making a living to helicopter in and stay for life.

        Again, just insensitive me…

        • My cousin is about 8 years old and lives in Ya’an close to Chengdu. He attends Chengdu Meishi International School, he hardly sees his parents only during the weekends and in most occasions in those weekends he stays at my grandparents house. But because he hardly sees his parents, his parents spoil him with lots of toys and stuff. This is what I see a lot of Chinese parents do, that don’t dare to hit a child (to keep thinking in Chinese mentality) or teach right disciplines. This is what I see my grandma is doing. He is teaching my cousin lots of discipline and yes, she hits him with a pair of kuai zi, when he shows really bad behaviour. Which his parents would never do. In conclusion, every situation has two points of perspective

          • “This is what I see a lot of Chinese parents do, that don’t dare to hit a child”

            Wha wha whaaat? If I had five Mao for every time a student has told me about the times that their FATHER “beat them” I would be richer than Li Jia Cheng.

            Now, maybe not a SMALL child- granted. But they’ll smack the hell out of their adolescents and teenagers.

  16. Hi:

    I have started a Forum Post for the whole raising a kid topic, feel free to check it out and ask a question or give an answer or post pics 😉

    http://www.chengduliving.com/forum

  17. Great piece, as always, Sascha.

    And I totally agree regarding getting the kid out of China before his impressionable mind is filled with anti-Japanese propaganda disguised as learning.

    That is, but for one thing — the language. From my experience in the primary education system here, it’s pretty lax (nothing like middle-school and above) and gives the kid such a fundamental understanding of Chinese that no matter how good of a private tutor, or how diligent your wife is, it can’t compare.

    I’ve not fully drank the language kool-aid yet, and obviously it needs to be considered against the other downsides, but it would be the biggest (really only) reason I would consider at least a couple years of the Chinese education system.

    maybe we should come up with a better term than mixed blood … any suggestions?

    Mutt. Just throwing it out there. 😉

    • I grew up in China, and attended Chinese school from the ages of two to eight, full time, and after that until I was twelve, but only in the afternoons. Obviously, my experiences would be a bit different as I’m a white, not mixed, but still somewhat similar because where I lived there were no other foreigners so there wasn’t already lika an accepted standard for treating foreign children differently.
      I got the whole political thing, the anti-Japanese stuff, the saluting to the Chinese flag and wearing my red scarf. But I knew that this was all Chinese stuff and could seperate that easily from the attitudes and teaching that I got at home from my parents. I don’t think it messed me up too badly =P
      For my part, I am really grateful that my parents sent me to Chinese school. There is no way my Chinese language would be as good if I hadn’t, and it allowed me to make friends with kids who lived nearby. When I was that little, I realized that me and my parents were different from everyone else, but when it came to friends and language and things like that, I basically thought I was Chinese. I didn’t really learn to read English until I was seven or eight, even though my parents both tried really hard to teach me, mostly because I wasn’t interested. I couldn’t see much practical value to that in a world where everything was in Chinese and I was doing just fine reading that. It didn’t mess up my English in the long run. After I was twelve my parents sent me to international school, where I quickly made it to the top of most of my classes, including English.
      I guess what I’m saying is, when kids are that little, the whole political thing doesn’t really sink in as much, especially when it’s not being reinforced at home, and going to Chinese school can be an extremely valuable experience.

  18. Sacha,

    Nice article and as my wife and i are in the planning stages of parenthood you bring up excellent points. Although, I am a bit annoyed that everyone replying thinks that the ideal life is one back in the west for the child. The same kinds of indoctrination to political ideals will be there, just pro-west instead (history class is joke where ever you grow up). Prejudices will still exist, the smart and nerdy Asian kid is good at Math bad at sports. Grandparents will still spoil the hell out of the kid and so on and so on. I say it’s relatively the same either way.
    @Ryan: agree on the language. Kids in the West become “Westernized” too fast and the will look to hide their ethnicity just like the “mutts” here.
    Only reason to take a kid back to the west in my eyes is so the little bugger can play Hockey!!!!!

    • Hey D,

      Yeah its tough to make a decision on the best geographic location, because no matter where you go there are PEOPLE for better or for worse.

    • “The same kinds of indoctrination to political ideals will be there, just pro-west instead.”

      You say that with a straight face? I’m sorry mate but you are simply NEVER going to find the kinds of blatant propagandist bullsh$t in a British or American textbook as you will find in China. Viz. Ryan’s link to the children’s book.

      And yeah, grandparents dote on their children “back home” of course but it is NOTHING like the overbearing helicopter grandparents who swoop in for the next eight years while mom and dad go off and do whatever it is they do. (I never HAVE figured out what the do, exactly. No one seems to really work in this country.) But, I digress…

      I get your point Daemon and not trying to start anything. I just hope you’ll think objectively about what REAL “indoctrination” is and I hope you will come to the conclusion that the two systems are in no way the same.

      My five Mao’s worth…

  19. I went to a Church of England School. Sounds like some special Christian school. It wasn’t. It was the standard state school in my area which my parents had no choice but to send me to. I sang Christian Hymns every morning. I attended religious, pronounced Christian, studies class twice a week. My parents even forced me to attend Sunday School. I took it in, I understood it and decided it wasn’t for me. I think more and more Chinese people are doing this with regard to the propaganda taught in Chinese schools. I know for a fact my wife and many of her and my Chinese friends have. This is all without the influence of a foreign parent to help guide them to critical thinking.

    I don’t see the grandparent issue as a strictly Chinese one. In different cultures grandparents have different roles. In many African-American families the grandparents will live with the family, believing their role to be educating and guiding the grandchildren. In mixed marriages these are the kind of issues you need to talk through with your wife and her family before you get married/have kids.

  20. Sascha dear, I think you should buy those plane tickets home. You are totally right of course and so why prolong the inevitable?

    And Danny Dog, yes, China is making progress but it will take much longer than 20 years to raise the countryside and those lacking even the most basic education into anything resembling a first rate country.

    • Charlie

      After being in China for 10 years, and his wife being Chinese, I can see how China would be “home” to them. Raising a child in its own habitat, if you will, doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. China has been and will be on the ascendancy for long time despite the population and pollution.

      My sister was raised in Switzerland and Germany and never lost her German language skills. As a child I spent time in Germany but never lived there for years, and as a result my language skills and cultural understanding of the region is far inferior.

      I sympathize with the gripes of China 100% (the pollution is the worst part) but learning the language and acquiring some of the culture of China from the inside are great assets to have.

  21. Your kid is half caucasian? He looks totally Chinese!

    • i’m half turkish. He looks just like me when i was a lil guy, cept with a cute lil tilt to his eyes.

    • He is half Chinese so what’s wrong if he looks Chinese?
      Also no offensive, Chinese babies are much cuter than caucasian babies.

      • No offensive taken. 🙂

        Wait a minute, though: Chinese babies are much cuter than all Caucasian babies? Clearly there’s no bias there. Let me take a wild guess: you’re a Chinese mother.

        • oh thanks for the correction. 🙂
          I’m a Chinese, but not mother yet.
          Guess you don’t visit chinese websites or at least you’ve seen some chinese babies’ pictures as you may not see chinese babies in life. 😛

  22. My daughter is also half Chinese. I still have photos of the reactions around us whenever we went for walks in Nanjing, like us surrounded by… 10 persons? All asking questions, youngsters wanting to take a picture of her to show off her big eyes…

    It made me conscious that, whenever in China, we are part of a prestiged minority. Only that. Had my (Chinese) husband married a woman from Western Africa, the reactions to the equally mixed blood child would have been completely different, and we all know that.

    About parenting itself:
    -My mother in law also tells everybody (to their amazement) that I breastfeed my daughter, and has even mentioned to me that it’s because Western women are different and Chinese women can’t do that. No use trying to tell her of her misconceptions.
    -I also had to fight against my husbands idea of sending our daughter to live with his parents.
    -Things I have learnt about I could and would never do:
    A cousin of his having a baby and leaving her to be raised by his grandmother, while he and his wife moved to Japan.

  23. (continuation from the prev. message)
    More things I could never repeat myself with my kid:

    -My in laws sending my husband and his brother to a boarding school when they turned 3, and later to their grandma’s.

    -Sending my kid to be raised by the grandpas.

    I feel lucky I can live motherhood the way I want to, without circumstances forcing me to take decissions against my instinct.

  24. Another great article Sascha!

    Both sets of my grandparents were old world Czech type farmers here in Texas.

    My grandmother on my father’s side (my grandfather died before I was born) was easy going, full of acceptance, and always took up for us as kids, and was never scolding or emotionally abusing.

    My mother’s father however berated me, the oldest child, as often as possible. The same grandmother was subservient to his abuse.

    I quickly learned, living myself in the “big city” of Houston, to dismiss my mother’s parents as “out of touch” and somewhat cruel, and cringed at any trip to visit them in the country.

    To this day my feelings towards my loving grandmother are the basis for my compassion towards others, and yet everyday I still fight feelings of inadequacy instilled by my mother’s parents and others who were never aware enough to realize the shortcomings of their own mentors.

    Much has changed in the U.S. in the field of child-rearing over the last fifty years.
    (Yes, even in Texas! lol )

    Funny to me is how well my mother’s parents “dominant conditioning philosophy” reflects the concerns of many of the comments here about grandparents in China.

    Just a personal observation =)

  25. yeah that old school style died out with us, but maybe it will come back with my grandkids … nothing seems to truly ever go away

  26. hay,
    I am from Isreal and I amk here with my husband and 6 months dughter, love to read your articales…Is there a way that i can meet more forigine parents here in chengdu, looking for some company?

  27. I have not yet met a dumb Hapa (hunxue, mixed blood) kid…they all seem to be above average.

  28. Great article, Sascha. I have a 4 years old mixed blood gril. I grew up in Chengdu and have been living in the States for almost 15 years. My husband is American with German/Dutch ancestry. I appreciate your observations & in-depth analysis. I have not looked at the situation from your angle… the little boy feeling different from the other kids… That’s really hard for a little one trying to fit in & making normal friends. Every time when we visit China, my daughter gets lots of attention, which turns me off, It’s not real & healthy. We are visiting Chengdu this spring/summer & I hope my daughter can make some progress on her Chinese… Do you have any recommendations on schools learning Chinese for kids like her? She speaks some Chinese… Not much though… Thanks!!

    • I dont have any off the top of my head, but feel free to get a hold of us when you show up. We might be in the US, but we’ll do our best to help out. You can also email my wife (the expert) at krissy630 at gmail.com

    • Cultural and racial genocide. Obviously, those Chinese girls who date out are the worst kind of racist. Racist towards their own race. All that talk about mixed kids child being better just make me vomit. It is so insulting.Further if she is truly race blind she will have married a Chinese guy. Because there more than 99% Chinese men versus white guy in China.By the law of statistics there is no reason for her to marry a white guy. Obviously she is aiming for the white guy

      • Charlie

        Hi,

        I can actually understand your anger, knowing the ease at which foreign men can date locals in China. Whatever you do, do not go to Jellyfish in Chengdu.

        But I think it’s impossible for anyone to be race blind, and cultural faith, as I think you see it, is an increasingly rare thing. All you have to do is walk around any major city in China and you can see that foreign influence is overwhelmingly powerful. Everyone seems to be driving a VW or Audi, wearing New Balance or Nike’s, and answering an iPhone. If everyone having a foreign boyfriend were an option in China, I think that would be a popular choice.

  29. Thanks! We can have playdates when we are in town.

  30. Nice article Sasha.
    Asians have very common features, like hair and eye color. In a society where everyone looks the same, you want to look different or have something that’ll set you a part. Having mixed or enhanced features will set you a part, most of the time in a good way but can be the center of bullying if people around you are jealous because of your looks. Many Asians love the big eyes and high nose that’s why Koreans and Japanese invest a lot of their money to enhance their looks and look more western. Filipjnos will invest a lot to make their skin lighter. That is why mixed babies are most of the time treated special in Asia. Here in the US, everyone’s the same. What sets you a part here is you got to be an achiever.

  31. Hi Sasha, (this is my first ever response to a blog so bear with me 🙂 I am a grandmother of a mixed 10 month old grandson. My son and his Chinese wife have been living in China for the past six months and her parents are raising their son,he initially lived with her parents, her mom now lives with them 5 days a week…even though my daughter in law does not work. I know my son tells me it is their culture but I worry that he will lose his son emotionally if not physically. They are returning to Canada soon to see if they can make it a go here with jobs and such. Her mother is coming with them. Of course her parents are pressuring them to live in China. He is completely taken in by the special treatment he and his son receive there, which I agree with you that it is not real or good. He tells me they live the life of upper class there, her parents bought them a condo, car etc. They are arriving by themselves with her mother and my grandson to follow a month later. We are concerned that we will not have much access to our grandson with her mother coming especially since they don’t even have much say in what goes on with their son. Any advise on how to handle dealing with the situation and her mother?? I have read the comments from others on how Chinese grandparents love their grandchildren I would respond that Canadian, American, German etc Grandparents love their Grandchildren just as much. We know other non chinese grandparents who are in the same situation.

    • Hey Debbie,

      Well. I can definitely understand this situation. I myself have a different thing going on, but I will do my best to help.

      First thing is, sounds like your son does not wear the pants and probably knows little of parenting. This combination means that he will not be as involved as he should be, won’t be able to push into his son’s life and probably does not even realize that he should be in the first place.

      I assume he’s young, his wife is young and they are enjoying having a kid but not the responsibility of raising him. Raising a 10 month old is very tough. But for me, when I hear he is coming with his wife and mother in law and the baby comes later? That can’t e true. I must be hearing wrong. If that is true, then that is an issue. 10 months old is still just a lil lil guy (i have a 10 month old) and he needs mommy and daddy around.

      I am assuming mommy doesn’t breastfeed. That also has an affect on the whole relationship.

      It sounds to me like this is the deal:

      your son and his wife are a “family” without the hardship of actually having a family. That sounds great and sometimes I wish I could do the same thing. But he is sacrificing his son in the process and although he won’t be able to see it now or really notice it ever (if he never realizes it), the effects are there.

      In order to change that, they would have to accept the responsibility themselves, which is very very difficult. Because not only are they prob enjoying cuddling the baby and then leaving when things get rough, but Chinese grandparents will encourage this type of situation.

      Part of me admires this in some ways – there is a beauty in having a clan raise a kid and allowing young people to pursue their lives rather than spend ALL THE TIME with their kids. But there has to be a balance.

      Now for you, my advice comes in two prongs:

      1) sit down and try and talk to your sonabout his life and be very very supportive of him and soft and just let him describe what its like being free from parenting, having a nice apt for free and stuff like that. And then ask him about his son. Basically get him to softly open up and talk to you about it. In doing so, hopefully things will come to light.

      2) Grab your grandson and squeeze him and take a trip with jim if possible. Be aggressive and territorial if the mother in law steps in the way. I know that that sounds bad and maybe some people with disagree. But in my exp, softly trying to negotiate or whatever just doesnt work. Grab the boy and say “we are taking this lil guy for the weekend. Enjoy Canada, the house is yours”

      Keep me posted, and obviously, I am not an expert, so try and get other peoples’ advice first before taking my word as gospel

    • Oh and btw, you should frame the mom in law’s visit as “a trip to canada” not as nanny. You are the nanny/grandma in Canada and you have to be fierce about that. let your son fight with his wife when mom in law pesters her daughter blah blah blah — you grab the boy and run 😉

      • So your son, his wife and mom in law are going to be in Canada with you for a month AND THEN the grandson comes? I’m sorry but that sounds absurd.

        • Sorry bit of miscommunication since I was probably rambling, my son and his wife are coming together in about 3 weeks. Her mother will follow about a month later with their son.

      • Thanks Sasha. They are in their mid 20’s, old enough but little experience with child rearing. My daughter in law does not have a lot of maternal instinct. It does not help that her mother took right over and did not give her the chance to be the mother. It is a lot easier to let the mother in law take over, for both of them. Your right my daughter in law and her mother wear the pants in the family. It is difficult to talk to him about this over the phone, different time zones etc. Hopefully once they are back he will realize that he needs to be more active in his son’s life and not listen to others tell him how it is “normal” in China to let the grandparents raise the children, especially when they are around other parents with children in Canada. Thank you for your comments, they have been very helpful. I especially like the “grab your grandson” be territorial and assertive.

        • yeah, being young parents today is not like it used to be, they probably love the fact that they dont have to “really” be parents. Good luck with that and squeeze the POO out of that little guy when you see him 🙂

        • I understand what your saying in this…. to deal with the Chinese you have to be very territorial…. they might even respect that… But it is bloody hard. My wife wears the pants in the famiy too (My life with Chinese is totally out of control) I try to take over as husband and father but feel it can only end in divorce if I keep at it. So for now I have to treat life each day as it comes, win some and loose some small battles as long as they stay small it can work

          As grandparent you are still your kids parents and they need you.
          I probably look lazy and things to people around me including my parents, but reality is I dont know how to deal with my circumstances and I know my parents dont either.

  32. “Maybe I should take him to where he is not considered to be the Other”

    Is there such a place? I’m mixed blood Chinese and white, have lived in Asia for 12 years (non-consecutively), Europe for 4, US for 21 years. I feel comfortable in all countries I’ve lived in, but at some level will always be considered an Other. 🙂 I like it though. Teach him to love his Otherness!

  33. I’m surprised it’s taken me two years to find this article.

    My son is also a “hunxue.” He was born in 2009, and just started kindergarten this past September.

    While the reaction from adults is always positive, my son, who hasn’t the slightest congenital trace of Chinese in him (he looks 100% honky), he is discriminated against by other children.

    I’ve heard from countless “xiao pengyou”, “Hey, look at the foreigner,” or, worse yet, “I don’t want to play with him because he’s a foreigner.” He gets the exact same comments I do, only worse because they’re being spoken by unfiltered, child mouths.

    No one, and I mean no one, considers him half Chinese. Even if they did, it wouldn’t matter, because he’d still be different; and in a culture which shuns diversity like the plague, I believe this is detrimental to his development.

    It’s obvious that the attention has affected his personality. There are a few areas he refuses to go to because he hates being swarmed. He also hates being touched by or spoken to by strangers, and he often retaliates with violence.

    Obviously, every child will react different to the attention.

    This is all a large reason why I’m leaving China. (I’ve been here since 2006.)

    Great article. I’m looking forward to reading the others.

    • Charlie

      That sounds rough on your kid, Kyle. Sascha and I know an American/Canadian couple who’ve been in China for years and are raising three kids here now, I wonder if their experience has been similar. A year or two ago they used to bring their first child out with them and she would be a huge hit everywhere they went. Or at least that’s how it looked, there’s a good chance that I did not see the downside that you mention.

    • brother that is too bad. We got lucky with kids really, my wife has two good girlfriends with kids the same age and they are good buddies. No issues at all besides the basic “MY toy!” stuff. But we keep him away from most other kids until we can gauge the reaction, because it often is not cool.

      In general,. it is though, so it sucks that you had to deal with this. Our older boy has developed a keen sense of who is cool and who is not though, and I have noticed him react to people who he figures to be not so cool: no reaction whatsoever. And I don’t have a problem with that.

      Also, he looks mixed. So maybe that makes a difference.

      I have friends with three caucasian kids and I know those kids went through some bullshit. Good Luck.

    • Try getting your child in an international school, there have teachers that could speak English while Chinese teachers teach Chinese classes, and hopefully there will have some kids that also come from foreign countries may help your kid’s friendship development(Only happens in larger cities, good luck finding non-Chinese in small cities…). Hope it is not too late.

  34. That post from Debbie could have been from my own mother. I’m basically in the same situation as her son. My wife is going to give birth in CHengdu this winter. I’ll go down for the birth but must return to my job in Canada right after. The kid will mainly be raised in China by his grandparents. . at least until age 12 or so. . Of course plans can and likely will always change. My wife can’t handle parenthood but feels tremendous filial duty to bring a grandchild to her parents. Don’t expect people to understand. Basically I know it is not an ideal situation. . but despite western pop psychology. . I think the most important thing is the kid be living with people who live him/her. .no matter their relation. ANd have a peaceful life.

  35. I am a single Chinese mom who raise a bi-racial Child here in China. I lived in the US for >15 years and had my daughter there, we moved to China when she was 2 years old, and decide to live in China for a long time, going back to the US is not an option now. We got all the attention,and my daughter got very defensive sometimes, often replying “I am Chinese” to people’s inquiry. We had some trouble in a previous daycare in China here where her face got scratched several times badly and the principle said it was because “she is too pretty”. I simply could not believe what I heard… But she is not there anyway.

    She is in a different Chinese daycare and is just treated normally like other kids. I think now she is more situated in the Chinese context. I wonder should I send her to a Chinese primary school later or an international school (which is a bit too expensive for me). I am a university faculty…

    I live near university where there are not many foreign/mixed kids, only foreign college students. Given all your experience, I wonder should I move to an environment where my daughter can be exposed to more muti/bi-racial kids and family. But my situation is a little different, since her “white” father is not in the picture/family. Or I wonder should I raise her totally in a Chinese environment? Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Hi Breeze,

      I would try and find some kids like her to play with, there are some mama groups online on Wechat, so you’d have to add my wife: look for “leixiaobaiwazi”

      She needs to know that she’s normal, there are a lot of kids with mixed parents, and the acceptance of that group should be a big help for her to realize how awesome she is 🙂 … even if she is reluctant at first.

      • Thanks, Sasha,for your advice! Is the group in Chengdu? unfortunately, we are not in Chengdu? We would have to find a group in Shanghai where we are. I am faced with a double conundrum – to find such a mixed kid group where there is single parent? Is it needed?

      • Thanks, Sasha,for your advice! Is the group in Chengdu? unfortunately, we are not in Chengdu. We would have to find a group in Shanghai where we are. I am faced with a double conundrum – to find such a mixed kid group where there is single parent? Is it needed?

  36. Raising a be-racial kid is a worst idea.Chinese stare and bully the kid just because of the kid is not a Chinese with Han ethnicity and doesn’t have a typical Chinese facial feature and behaviour and even they could possibly call the kid alien or monster.

    • Charlie

      I think this is one of the reasons why Sascha has moved to America and is raising his child there. Along with the improved air quality, education, healthcare, etc.

      • I clearly see Chinese are not foreigner friendly people but they wear foreign brands, they like to watch foreign movies, they sympathize US and several EU countries, they sympathize American celebrities/movie stars but when they see a foreigner in China they change 360°, they stare so hard, they make fun, they say bad things and they think a foreigner can’t speak and understand any Chinese.If they see an interracial couple with a kid, this becomes nightmare for that couple.

        But China still a dream for expats.It’s fun to live here.

        • It is true that people in China could say things that is racist and mean when they thought the foreigner won’t understand what they are talking about. But I truly believe most people won’t just saying mean things to a stranger that they will braely meet again, sometimes they really don’t mean it. There is some words like 黑鬼(hei gui) or 鬼佬(gui lao)-a Cantonese version word of foreigner, if these two words stright translate to English they will be nigger and Ghosts(I don’t even know google translate could come up with such answer…), and it became absolute rcist but in the local culture they are just different version of foreigner.
          As for the “nightmare for that couple” part, check in weibo with word “KaneDennis丹尼斯凯恩“ or “H2K_张汉盛Matthew” and you will see how people in China get crazy for a mix blood kid, even the first one is not Chinese mixed(If you get confused, welcome to Asian~). For their parents, it just depends on how they think. If they want their kids to be famous, a mix-blood kid has 200% cahnce of getting famous as their different looking(most of them actually pretty cute), but if their parent just want some peace growing experences with their kids, i asure you there won’t be a lot.
          (Hope I didn’t make too much gammar mistakes, still finding it hard to write something right…)

  37. .....................l Reply April 12, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    But he looks so Asian..

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