Time to stop relying on the Bank of Mum & Dad
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.