Socialization of Boys and Girls

Throughout the history of Imperial China males were preferred over females. Female infants suffered infanticide at a higher rate than males. Today, female infanticide remains high in the countryside but not in the city. When a girl is born, people will call the event "small happiness," but when it is a male the event is called "big happiness." In China's largest cities this distinction is less apparent. Given the realities of the one-child policy combined with new residence and descent practices, urban girls are highly valued.

A "long life celebration" ritual for 100-day-old infants, regardless of gender, is practiced in the countryside. In this ritual close female kin gather together for food and conversation that ends with them lifting the infant through a large circular loaf of bread (mantou) calling out as they do so: "Have a long life." In northern China, some mothers might prepare an ordinary dish of noodles in which an extra long noodle is placed to signify "have a long life." This event is private and only the mother and father are present. Today individual birthdays, especially in the urban areas, are increasingly celebrated in the home or in upmarket public restaurants. In place of kin there are now classmates, and family friends are the primary people invited to attend the event.

Boys are given greater freedom and are not controlled in the same way as girls. Obedience is emphasized in rural China and, after the age of 5, corporal punishment, especially for boys, is pervasive. In larger urban settings there is less use of corporal punishment. Parents emphasize guidance over obedience in child-rearing practices. Daycare/preschool starts for most urban children when they reach 30 months of age. Teachers acknowledge that they discipline boys more than girls because boys misbehave more than girls. In the late 1990s teachers started to acknowledge that girls were becoming as mischievous as boys.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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