Raising a Child in China

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The Chinese culture is one of the oldest cultures in the world with great emphasis on family traditions, discipline, hard work and merit. Chinese parents unquestionably pass down these habits to their children. If you are a foreigner raising children in China, your little ones automatically learn these values through outside influences. There are also other factors that could influence a child’s upbringing.

The education

Education in China reinforces great discipline and excellence. Children are often subjected to strict schedules that are expected to be followed, failing to do so, often results in punishments. Methods like ‘shaming’ are often used by teachers at schools and at home by parents. An outsider might find these practices harsh or crude. So it is vital that you understand the nuances of the Chinese education system if you decide to stay in China long enough for your kids to attend school.

The Help

In China, help with childcare is readily available. If you are an expat raising children in China, you can easily opt for such services, unlike in the West. In the traditional Chinese family system, elders assist in raising the kids. However, nowadays hiring outside help is also acceptable. You can find full-time nannies, day-care help, or women who assist with household work as well as with kids.

If you are a foreigner raising children in China, and wishing to hire a nanny, just be mindful of a few things. Ask for references and ID card. Verify references, and ask detailed questions. Many older Chinese women who have raised their own kids work as nannies to make a living. They come with hands-on experience and prove to be of great help.

The Differences

Even minute cultural differences can affect on how foreigners are raising children in China. For instance, in China use of diapers for kids is not as important as in the West. Parents simply look for the cues that child needs relieve him or herself and accordingly lead their kids to the bathroom (or tree, garbage can, or even the bus floor) to potty train. Therefore, your hired nanny or your child’s kindergarten teacher might have different ideas about the use of diapers.

For an outsider, certain customs of raising children in China may seem peculiar. But with a few tweaks, you can work around them. Additionally, raising children in China can work out great for you and your kids if you focus on taking in the good that Chinese culture offers like the support of family, easily-available help, focus on sports, education and hard work.

*Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

Founders of havingababyinchina.com, Jeremy and Jacquelyn have four children. The first three were born in three different hospitals in China and the last was born at home in the US. Jeremy and Jacquelyn created havingababyinchina.com in 2009 after they found little information for foreigners having babies in China. They love connecting with other foreigners having babies. Learn more about them on the about page.


  1. Jen

    We had issues with that with our first Ayi. If you find one who has worked for foreigners before mant of those cultural differences have already been discussed and will be familiar with the ayi. The better your Chinese the easier it will be too. I always say that being able to communicate with the person sharing the care of my child was great motivation.

    • Jeremy & Jacquelyn

      Great tips, Jen! That’s true about language. Being able to communicate with your child’s caregiver is definitely a great motivator.

  2. tingting

    Been wanting to have a part time nanny to take care of my little girl 6 months old so I can work but my husband is very hesitant because of the cultural differences. They think our baby needs to be covered up all the time even when shes hot and sweaty. Our Chinese friends told us that the best thing to do is hire an old woman in our neighborhood. You can ask other neighbors about their background, They usually don’t work and only helps in their children’s house, They will be cheap than day care centers and professional nannies and They are the best when it comes to taking care of children…

    • Jeremy

      Yes, that’s absolutely true that they believe babies need to be covered up at all times (except for the split pants, of course…). We really struggled with that, too.

      You might consider doing a trial run of having the helper come while you are still home just to show how you do things and express what you expect. There will certainly be some differences of opinion, but it will be good to air those out right from the get-go.

      That’s great advice about getting some trusted recommendations about an older lady in the neighborhood. Our first helper came through an agency. It worked out really great in the end, but it was certainly a bit scary to leave our daughter with a complete stranger.


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