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Holidays a stressful time for single offspring

By Zhang Yue | China Daily | Updated: 2014-01-17 07:17

A Chinese woman bought a full front-page ad in a popular Chinese-language newspaper in Melbourne on Tuesday to publish a letter asking her missing son studying in Australia to get in touch with the family.

In it, she asked the young man, Peng, to come home for Chinese New Year celebrations and promised to stop trying to force him into marriage.

Peng had ignored phone calls from his parents because they were pressuring him to marry, according to media reports.

The Chinese Melbourne Daily published the front-page ad with the six-line letter from mother to son on Jan 14.

Written in bold characters, it read: "Peng, we have tried to reach you so many times by phone, but in vain. So maybe you will hear from us here. We hope you will come home for Lunar New Year. Dad and Mom will never again pressure you to marry. Love you, Mom."

China News Service later reported that the mother, who lives in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, contacted the newspaper after she lost touch with her son.

The story was reported by several media outlets in China the next day, along with photographs of the ad.

The story also circulated widely on micro blogs, with some netizens suggesting that the ad was excessive, while others expressed sympathy for the mother's search.


The ensuing discussions shifted to observations that the annual Spring Festival holiday is often accompanied by tensions as parents urge their offspring into romantic relationships.

The story rang a chord with Cheng Li, 32, who lives in Sydney, Australia. She said she has gone through similar problems with her family.

Days earlier, she had quarrelled with her mother, who said, "It's really the priority for you to get married now."

Cheng has been studying and living in Sydney since 2009 and she has been single all the while.

"I have really tried to find true love since I arrived here," she said. "But finding true love is never easy and it is especially hard when you live abroad."

She did not return to China to visit her family during her first two and a half years in Australia, remaining there instead to work on her master's degree. She visited home for the first time in 2012 after being granted permanent residency in Australia.

"I was overwhelmed with questions about how my relationship was going at the time. I was 30," she said.

"To be honest, I enjoyed my single life in Sydney quite a lot and the idea of remaining unmarried doesn't worry me. But it has been really difficult for me to face my families' expectations regarding marriage over the years."

She hung up on her parents during several phone calls when they pushed too hard on the subject.

Cheng's mother in China, who declined to give her name, said she was concerned about the issue of marriage mainly because she wants her daughter to have someone to share her life with.

"She is very lonely living abroad all these years," she said. "But I dare not mention this too much to her over the phone. I feel sad sometimes when I think about it, because it's not something I can help."

In December, Cheng returned home for the Christmas holidays. She said that when she was saying goodbye to her parents at the airport in Shanghai, she hugged her mom and dad separately.

"And they hugged me with the same whisper: Bring a boyfriend home next time," she said.


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