Pri­vacy or fil­ial piety?

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By Luna Guo

Would you add your in-laws as your WeChat friends if they asked? I re­cently saw a post on Sina Weibo say­ing that a man felt trou­bled be­cause he had dated a wo­man for a year and planned to get mar­ried. How­ever, when his mother asked to add her WeChat, the girl blocked her from her Mo­ments im­me­di­ately af­ter reluc­tantly ad­ding her.

Although most Weibo users sup­ported the young wo­man’s de­ci­sion on the prin­ci­ple of pri­vacy, it is dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to say no to se­niors in real life, espe­cially in such a sit­u­a­tion.

I re­mem­ber a for­eign fe­male friend once told me that she felt trou­bled be­cause her mother-in-law would of­ten come to their house to tidy up her apart­ment.

“I think that is some­thing very pri­vate,” she said.

It is com­mon for el­derly Chi­nese to take care of their adult chil­dren even af­ter they get mar­ried. One of the rea­sons could be that to­day’s young Chi­nese are un­der a lot of pres­sure, and their par­ents hope to as­sist in some way by help­ing to clean their houses so that they can re­lax a lit­tle af­ter work. They are of­ten un­able to help their chil­dren in their ca­reer, so help­ing out at home might be the best op­tion for them.

Also, the con­cept of fam­ily is highly val­ued in China, which means that once peo­ple get mar­ried, they be­come a mem­ber of their part­ner’s fam­ily as well. So, car­ing about one’s son- or daugh­ter-in-law’s life is a sign that the fam­ily has fully ac­cepted you. It says, “I care about you the way I care about my own child.”

Re­spect for the el­derly is also highly val­ued in China, so when the choice be­tween pro­tect­ing one’s pri­vacy or be­ing dis­obe­di­ent to an elder comes up, one’s pri­vacy should give way to obe­di­ence. At least, it should ap­pear that way.

I don’t think what the girl men­tioned in the post did was wise be­cause she was too overt in show­ing her un­will­ing­ness, espe­cially when a com­pro­mise could have solved the prob­lem. I have my in-laws and even a cousin-in-law as my WeChat contacts. But I put them in spe­cific groups where they are un­likely to view posts that I would rather they not see.

This is how I strike a bal­ance be­tween my pri­vacy and fil­ial piety. I do not think there is any­thing wrong with my com­pro­mise. It’s just like a white lie.

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