In America the typical nuclear family is a father, mother and two to three children (or some variation of that with parents and children). Parents are the main figures in their children’s lives while extended family plays more of a supporting role. In China it is a bit different.
Instead of grandparents playing a supportive role, they have a more dominant role in the child’s life. Grandparents spend more time with a child then the child’s actual parents do because the parents go off to earn money for the family. In China the way it works is that you are supposed to get married and have a child young so that your parents can help raise the child while you make the money and support them.
The credo of respect thy elders is followed by everyone here in China. I have never seen so much respect for/given to the elderly in my life. Total strangers will help the elderly cross the street, give them their seat on the bus or generally just be good/kind to them.
In America the parks are usually dominated by kids, but not in China. Whenever I walk through a park it is always packed with senior citizens playing cards, dancing, or just shooting the breeze. It seems that in China all the fun starts when you’re old. I half expect to see a senior citizen gang terrorizing the neighborhood there are so many of them just hanging about.
So I have officially decided that when I reach the age of retirement I am going to come back to China and hang out here. I’ll be treated like a king. It is just interesting to see family dynamics in different cultures.