Just when you thought you were all grown up and could do things on your own, your parents find a new way to interfere — at least that might be the case for hundreds of young adults in Shanghai, whose parents are worried that they are too old to be single. Taking matchmaking to the next level was a “parent’s chat meeting,” which, according to the current print edition of the Shanghai Star, started in July to let parents try to hook up their kids — according to some criteria of course. Can you believe that the waiting list for these monthy meetings extends until next January?
During these meetings, parents crowd into a room and are split by the gender of their child. On each half of the room, parents watch a slide show displaying information on the children of the opposite sex. This included age, height, level of education, job, income, marital situation (umm?), family information and housing situation.
After the lights went on, parents searched for each other with the aid of a loudspeaker (as if most Chinese parents need one of those). One of the busiest sets of parents at this month’s meeting belonged to number 128. Their son is 177 cm tall, studying for a master’s degree and makes an income of 13,000 yuan per month. Tons of parents wanted to chat, and we heard that some even cut in line.
The event organizer, Chen Zhanqing stated, “Parents … can also assess how the other parents carry themselves. If they feel the family comes across all right, then their kids were most likely to have been raised well, which is why such events are very well received by parents.” Note the word “parent” being used three times more often than the word “kid”.
We can understand that Chinese people have been getting married for thousands of years, as one attendant stated (the obvious). We also realize that in China it is commonly recognized that the older generation believes that women in China should preferably be married before they are 28 years old — but this all seems to be changing. The number of people getting married in China has decreased by almost half in the last 20 years. The average age of a bride was 20 years old in the 90s, and is now over 24 years old.
Shanghaiist believes part of this has to do with the list of requirements that seems to exist for potential mates. Men are often expected to own an apartment to be suitable candidates, and they find themselves working hard and being too busy to meet people on their own. We can understand that these men are faced with a problem, and might need help to sort it out. Women, too, are finding themselves busier than before. In fact, the majority of parents at the meeting were attending for their female children, who were mostly born around 1980 while most of the men represented at the meeting were 10 years older than that.
This kind of matchmaking isn’t ideal according to many young people and scholars. A 27-year-old white-collar man said, “It sounds silly.” Xia Xueluan, a sociologist from Peking University commented, “Their attempts to pair their children could prevent the kids from mentally maturing.” She added that marriage isn’t like picking up items at a market.
About 80 percent of people in Shanghai are somehow able to find their own marriage partners.
75 Shanghai couples end marriage every day (Xinhua)
Beijing parents play matchmaker at parks (Baltimore Sun)