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Father's Day Survey Raises Concern Over Generation Gap in Chinese Family

The second Sunday of June marks the Father’s Day for many countries around the world. For most of the Chinese families in Asia and the United States, it becomes a good opportunity when father and chil
( [email protected] ) Jun 18, 2006 05:36 PM EDT

The second Sunday of June marks the Father’s Day for many countries around the world. For most of the Chinese families in Asia and the United States, it becomes a good opportunity when father and children expresses love to one another more openly.

In Hong Kong, a survey for the Father’s Day initiated by a leading local radio station Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) found that generation gap generally exists between father and children in most families, according to a report from BBC Chinese.

Conducted by the University of Hong Kong in May, a sample of 502 people was interviewed. 35 percent of people say that they did not have any meaningful communication with their fathers for the last one week. The figure for the same question about communication with their mothers recorded 24 percent. On average, the time spent daily for effective communication with father and mother is 18 minutes and 30 minutes respectively, reported by the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming Pao.

The statistics have showed a lack of communication between parents and children in Hong Kong, especially with fathers. Even the trend appears to be very common among most developed countries in the world and can be easily explained by the busy urban lifestyle, another survey done by the Chinese Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) of Hong Kong analyzes the problems faced by a father as the head of a family.

239 fathers who have children under 12 years old were being interviewed between April and May. Around 56 percent of them say unemployment is their greatest worry, while some 50 percent also worry that they have not earned enough money to support all expenditures. Nevertheless, despite of careers and finances, up to 44 percent still expresses deep concern over the lack of time to communicate with children. A good relationship with family members is the source of joy for around 77 percent of all interviewees.

In addition, the survey suggested that most fathers do not know how to express their love for the family because of fathers are supposed to keep their authority in traditional Chinese culture. 46 percent fathers think that they are not humorous enough. Some 18 percent even say they do not know how to express their emotions in a proper way.

In order to breakthrough the difference in age, culture and lifestyles between father and children, the effort of both sides are required. Many old parents have started to learn to use the internet as an efficient and convenient way of communication with their children who are working or studying overseas.

"I always use MSN Messenger to chat with my son in the U.S. I also talk to him on the phone, but I can only hear his voice but not any images. Through the computer, we can send texts and pictures to one another so that we can know the situation well and feel more secure," Wong Chi-Hung, who has been using the internet for three years, said to Ming Pao.

Wong added that he has just received a Father’s Day e-card from his daughter-in-law two days ago, "Although the card doesn’t cost anything, I am very satisfied."

In Mainland China, the bonding between father and children appeared to be closer under the more traditional Chinese family setting. A Beijing-based recruitment company Zhi Lian conducted a survey about what motivates fathers most at their workplaces. Surprisingly, rather than fame, status or materials, over 80 percent of fathers interviewed say that children are the greatest strength that motivate them to work hard, according to the official Xinhua news agency. This shows that the strong vertical relationship of love in traditional Chinese family has not been shaken.

Another figure suggests that around 70 percent of fathers are willing to forgo a better living standard in order to keep a close relationship and to spend more time with children. This has revealed the traditional Chinese family value that men always place family and children as the top priority in their lives.

The Family Research Center at the Shanghai Academy of Social Science has today announced the launch of a new study topic "Father Research". The head of the Center Yu Anqi explained to Ming Pao that the aim of the study is to find out the overall contribution of men to the society, to describe and analyze the society’s response to men’s participation, to document some personal experiences and history. The study is the first of its kind in Mainland China.