Em­bar­rass­ing, but es­sen­tial

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - — ZHOU WENTING

For many par­ents of older un­mar­ried chil­dren, the park cor­ner has be­come an in­dis­pens­able part of their lives.

“To a great ex­tent, the match­mak­ing cor­ner meets the par­ents’ own needs. They’ve made it a mouth­piece of their com­mon con­cerns,” said Xue Yali, a re­searcher with the Fam­ily Re­search Cen­ter at the Shang­hai Academy of So­cial Sci­ences.

Af­ter years of field stud­ies at the match­mak­ing cor­ner, Sun Pei­dong, a so­ci­ol­o­gist at Fu­dan Univer­sity in Shang­hai, wrote a book about the phe­nom­e­non. “Hun­dreds of anx­ious par­ents gather in this pub­lic space and share their con­cerns with oth­ers in the same sit­u­a­tion through reg­u­lar meet­ings and thus get spe­cial so­cial sup­port,” she wrote.

“Peo­ple born in the 1950s share a col­lec­tive anx­i­ety be­cause they ex­pe­ri­enced in­sta­bil­i­ties, such as food short­ages, dur­ing their teenage years and be­ing laid off dur­ing the prime years of their life. There­fore they’re scared of un­cer­tainty in the fu­ture and are afraid that their child will choose the wrong per­son.”

Many of the par­ents are em­bar­rassed about at­tend­ing the match­mak­ing mar­ket reg­u­larly, and would never dream of ad­mit­ting it to their friends or rel­a­tives. As if to un­der­line that point, one mother who had just told me that it was her first time was greeted by an­other par­ent: “Hello Mrs Cao. You’re here again!”

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