Hot family drama reflects Chinese netizens’ parenting anxieties | #parenting

A Little Dilemma Photo: Sina Weibo

A Little Dilemma, a new TV drama featuring a realistic take on Chinese parents and students as they tackle “educational competition,” has recently become a popular topic on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo, inspiring netizens to reflect on their own parenting skills and anxieties. The drama tells the story of two families with completely opposing parenting philosophies. One set of parents are the classic uptight “tiger parents” that demand their children always be the best at everything, while the other couple is rather relaxed, and willing to allow their kids to have more fun and freedom. 

A Little Dilemma quickly began trending on Sina Weibo, with the hashtag for the show earning more than 2 billion views. A lot of Chinese netizens said that they find the drama relatable because they can see their own insecurities reflected in the show, while others admitted that they do not want to have children because of financial and educational pressures. 

“The sharp decrease in birth rate in China is due to a multi-dimensional social situation created by inflation, high housing prices, high educational and parenting costs, and also women’s liberated attitudes in developed cities. These all create anxiety, which can be intimidating, especially for young parents even when they really want kids,” Xu, an expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

In the drama, the two families are trying to help their children adjust as they go from primary school to middle school, a particularly important and competitive transition for Chinese students.

“In China, the knowledge that students learn in the first year of middle school is often double what they learn in primary school. Also, competition among students is often seen starting with the first year of middle school,” Zhao, a middle school teacher in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

“I never thought my intention to send my son to after-school classes might actually have been me convincing myself that he must always study… It is really difficult for him, but the reality is that everybody does this. We can’t be the only different ones,” Zhang, a mom of a second-year middle school student at a reputable school in Chengdu, told the Global Times on Tuesday.   

“The important thing is parents should “face up to their fears,” and not allow their fears to turn into pressure on children. Also, it is not good to compare your children with other kids as that can sharply reduce their self-esteem,” a parenting expert in Beijing told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

A Little Dilemma belongs to the “Little Trilogy”- of productions made up of A Love For Separation (2016) and A Little Reunion (2019). The trilogy is dedicated to the varying stages of educational and parenting phenomena in China today, such as step-parenting, how to overcome the generation gap and other common “problems” discussed by parents worldwide.  

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