Yesterday China announced that it’s ending its One-Child Policy–which limited the number of children a family could have to one–which had been in place since 1979. Under the new policy, couples will be allowed to have two kids. While that isn’t a huge increase, if you’re a woman who has been affected by this rule, it’s a huge step. Under the old policy, women were forced to have abortions, hide their pregnancies, not report births, plus face outrageous fines that they couldn’t afford –it was crazy. Though I’m not a woman living in China, I kinda feel the same excitement that I felt when Germany brought down the Berlin Wall. I picture Chinese women multiplying like bunnies, having babies in elevators and cabs, making up for lost time.
New siblings for everyone!
So the next thing you know, I’m on the phone with my girlfriend Lee, whose kid goes to school with my kid.
“Hi Lee, I heard about China lifting the one-child policy. That’s great news!”
I’m waiting for her to come back with a high-five over the phone, but she’s lukewarm.
“Lee, what’s up?”
She goes on to say that it’s good news, but it’s not likely to change much of anything. “It’s expensive to have kids in China, she explains.
‘Yea, but it’s expensive here too,” I tell her. “Haven’t you ever heard the saying, ‘Every kid comes with his own loaf of bread?’”
She tells me that I don’t understand. People in China put a lot of investment into that one kid. He goes to the best schools and they spend a lot of money to make sure he succeeds because that’s all they have. People can’t just turn away from that way of thinking. It’s one of the consequences of having the rule.
Whoa. That makes sense. This kid is a family’s whole legacy in one shot. It makes me think about the pressure I always hear about Chinese parents putting on their kids in terms of education. It’s no joke.
She went on, “And a lot of women are resentful of the government for taking away their reproductive rights. Can you imagine how it would feel if the government decided that you could only have one child for the rest of your life? I understand that the population was getting out of hand, we are a billion plus in China, but it’s still not right.”
Indeed. I have two kids and everyday that I see a baby I start getting all tingly inside. As human beings, animals even, we’re here to procreate. That’s how we’re wired. I can’t imagine the government stepping in and deciding that it’s time for me to close up shop.
“And now that things have changed, now that they have an issue with too many old people and not enough young people to take care of them, they want us to start having more babies. They’re thinking about China’s future and wondering who is going to be there. Sorry, we’re not robots here to boost the government’s numbers at will. We’re human beings,” says Lee, getting upset.
I tell her that I’ll talk to her later.
After we get off the phone, I’m thinking about how we hear about things like a one-child policy over here and we have no idea how deep it gets. As a mom myself, I’m hoping that China can figure this out. I don’t know, maybe the government can offer some financial incentives to families who are thinking of having a second child. Or perhaps they could plaster happy families of four all over the country, make bigger families look fun, do anything to get people reproducing again.
I think about my own two kids and how much joy they bring and a part of me wants that for them- bump the government. Having babies is for us. Or at least it should be.
What do you think about the One-Child Policy ending?
This article first appeared on Madamenoire 10/30/15