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Quit your job to tutor your kids

Many Chinese women are willing to give up their careers, friends, and personal lives to spend time under house arrest.

In Chinese “peidu” means tutoring, referring to mothers who are willing to give up everything to push their children to study, in the hope that their children will get good grades, get into a good university, and change the fate of poverty. difficult.

In the summer of 2021, Qi Weiwei, a social science researcher, visited a small village in Dongzhi district, Anhui province during a field trip. Before that, research on “peidu” mothers took her to Guangdong, Henan, Hunan and Dongshan, but Dongzhi district recorded a spike.

There, she meets a 30-year-old woman who is married and has two daughters. The husband works in Beijing to become the breadwinner and the wife leaves her job in the city to go to the crowded town of Yanghu to study. But Qi soon realized this was not an isolated case. In rural families there are always mothers who are willing to make sacrifices in this way.

Another woman from Dongzhi district also sent her children back to her hometown while working in Shanghai with her husband. But the child refused to do his homework, did not listen to his grandparents. The young mother was called by the homeroom teacher and asked to “go home with the children”. Not wanting her child’s ranking to drop, she quit her job and returned to her hometown.

A mother picks up her son after school, Henan province, 2020. Photo: Qi Weiwei

A mother picks up her son after school in Ha Nam province, 2020. Photo: Qi Weiwei

According to Qi, mothers often quit their jobs when their children are in eighth grade. “This is an important time because next year the kids can go to high school or learn a trade. Not wanting their kids to go to vocational school, they don’t want their kids to go to vocational school. spend all my time and money, hoping that my child will get into high school and then university,” explained Qi.

A day of “peidu” mothers who are always around their children. They wake up early to cook breakfast and send their children to school. And continue to tutor children, after school. But many people control their children too much. For example, it takes a child 20 minutes to get home from school, but if that time is exceeded, the parent will call the teacher to ask questions.

“Some mothers admit to being strict, because they want their children to be better, but unknowingly put the child under great pressure. The child feels under supervision, begins to rebel and disobeys. The relationship between mother and child. I become stressed,” Qi said.

Listening to parents confiding, researchers can easily see anxiety and fatigue in words. The “peidu” mothers describe the loneliness of being around their children all day, not being able to interact socially and can only talk to parents in the same situation to amuse themselves.

In addition, they are also under pressure from society and their children. If not tutoring causes children to do poorly in school, women are criticized that they are selfish. Children can also compare, expect their parents to accompany them, when they see friends being taken care of. Not to mention, schools also set expectations on parents. They say that “being close to parents helps children learn well and support their children’s development” so that most mothers accept to leave work to tutor children, let their husbands go to work.

Qi Weiwei's group chats with a mother who has returned to the countryside to take care of her children.  Photo: Qi Weiwei

Qi Weiwei’s group chats with a mother who quit her job to return to her hometown to take care of her children. Image: Qi Weiwei

The trend of early parenting has also become popular in China. In the past, mothers started tutoring their children from grade 12, but now it’s grade 8. Even many families tutor their children since elementary school. But that effort makes many people doubt “is that sacrifice really worth it”.

As a researcher, Qi believes that parents’ efforts to mentor and motivate children are not really effective. Very few students get good grades and pass the college entrance exam. “What they can do well is take care of their daily life, making sure their children eat well.

Some other experts who have studied “peidu” have reached similar conclusions in villages and towns in Gansu, Shanxi, and Hubei provinces, in central and western China.

In addition to disappointment, mothers expressed sadness and disappointment when they lost development opportunities while staying at home to look after their children. The process of tutoring children ends when they turn 40, 50, an age very few companies want to accept. “Unable to apply for a job, they are forced to rely on their husbands or find manual jobs to make ends meet,” Qi said.

In addition to those who raise their children successfully, some are paying a heavy price. Qi once talked to a woman whose daughter got into a good university, but their relationship became strained when she was in middle school.

“If I don’t follow closely, my children will blame me when I get bad grades and can’t get into university. My children may hate me, but I understand I have fulfilled my duty as a mother,” this person shared.

Minh Phuong (According to Sixthtone)

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