Time to stop re­ly­ing on the Bank of Mum & Dad

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Chen Zel­ing

The mother of a col­lege-bound un­der­grad­u­ate re­cently sought help on­line with re­gard to how much she should give her stu­dent daugh­ter as a monthly stipend. But the girl in ques­tion was less than im­pressed when she was of­fered only 1,200 yuan ($180.72) a month for the du­ra­tion of her stud­ies. “Am I re­ally your daugh­ter?” she com­plained to the hap­less mom.

This oth­er­wise amus­ing story has nev­er­the­less stirred up some se­ri­ous de­bate on the In­ter­net. Com­men­ta­tors re­called their own cam­pus days when per­sonal al­lowances strug­gled to keep up with spi­ral­ing liv­ing costs. A re­cent sur­vey by Bei­jing Youth Daily found that of 133 stu­dents ques­tioned, more than a third spent in ex­cess of 1,600 yuan a month on ev­ery­day ex­penses.

How­ever, it ap­pears that many of these posters, and the girl her­self, have missed the real point at the heart of this de­bate. And that is that stu­dents should have a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion for money – es­pe­cially while they are study­ing and not earn­ing.

Even so, shouldn’t they also en­deavor to pay their own way through col­lege, as far as is pos­si­ble, rather than re­ly­ing on the “Bank of Mum & Dad” for reg­u­lar hand­outs?

As a cur­rent col­lege un­der­grad­u­ate my­self, I’m un­com­fort­able with the at­ti­tude of this girl, and many oth­ers, who seem to have lit­tle re­gard for the virtues of self-reliance and in­de­pen­dence. Many of them take it for granted that their par­ents will al­ways be there to stump up more cash when­ever it is needed.

Some peo­ple might ar­gue that 1,200 yuan a month is barely enough to sur­vive on, and that col­lege life is hard enough without treats such as movies, meals out, and other so­cial activities to ease the pres­sure.

And I am not denying that we should en­joy our col­lege years and try to get as much out of the ex­pe­ri­ence as pos­si­ble. But, as the say­ing goes, there is no such a thing as a free lunch. Yes, you can play hard, but just re­mem­ber that work­ing hard is the pre­req­ui­site to get you there in the first place.

For ex­am­ple, one of my friends is a big travel buff who visits every in­ter­est­ing place she hears about, while also never scrimp­ing on nice meals along the way. How­ever, she is also a worka­holic who holds down a part-time job at Uni and who never asks her par­ents for money.

For her, work­ing is as en­joy­able as spend­ing the money she earns from it. I believe that em­ploy­ing brains and brawn to earn your own keep is what gives col­lege stu­dents a sense of achieve­ment, and also pre­vents them from fall­ing into idle­ness dur­ing their free time.

And be­ing in­de­pen­dent also means re­spect­ing one’s par­ents. “I know that my mother and fa­ther make every pos­si­ble ef­fort to earn money and to put a roof over my head,” my friend told me. Sadly, this at­ti­tude is sorely lack­ing among many young peo­ple to­day (and not only stu­dents) who see their hard­work­ing par­ents as noth­ing more than a walk­ing ATM. And when the cash ma­chine runs dry? The off­spring are nowhere to be seen or heard. Lit­tle won­der so many el­derly Chi­nese lead a mis­er­able and lonely ex­is­tence with next to no fa­mil­ial sup­port dur­ing the au­tumn years of their lives. In fact, the once tra­di­tional virtue of “fil­ial duty” has now been turned on its head in China, where mod­ern fam­i­lies are more likely to lav­ish money on their chil­dren in or­der to avoid “los­ing face” in front of their peers. And it is the par­ents who need to start set­ting an ex­am­ple, firstly by ed­u­cat­ing their chil­dren – stu­dents or not – against frit­ter­ing money away on need­less lux­u­ries sim­ply in or­der to fit in. Young peo­ple need to learn that pay­ing your own way in this world is the only true bench­mark for en­sur­ing mu­tual re­spect and ful­fill­ing per­sonal re­la­tion­ships among fam­i­lies and peers. And what bet­ter time to start than when you are study­ing.

The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the au­thor’s own and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the views of the Global Times.

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