Remold the image of Shanghainese’s mother-in-law


Marriage has always been a popular topic in China. That’s why numerous dating shows are coming up without a sign of slowing down. Among all of these shows, “mother-in-law meeting son-in-law” seems different as it boasts distinctive Shanghainese characteristic.

In this show, there are ten mothers-in-law standing behind the platforms and five young men come to the stage respectively in one episode. First, the male guest chooses their favorite princess who is one of the daughters of these mothers. There are altogether three rounds and mothers-in-law can decide if they want the male guest to stay on the stage by turning off the lights. If the he can hurdle all three rounds, which means at least one light remains on for him in the end, he gets to decide if he wants to “hold hands” with the mother of the princess he chooses. As long as he decides to accept the mother who keeps the light on for him, it makes a match. Then he can meet the daughter of the mother and see if they fit in real life.

It might sound ridiculous but given the situation of Shanghai’s mother-in-law culture, it totally makes sense. If a man intends to marry a Shanghainese woman, he has to make her mother happy first.

Shanghai women, especially mid-aged women are powerful in the family. It’s shanghai’s tradition that women are in charge of the money. Most husbands have to hand in part or all of his salary to the wives. This makes Shanghainese mothers-in-law aggressive.

After watching this show for a month, I noticed the most popular questions that popped out from these mothers-in-law’s mouths are “do you have an apartment?”, “how much is your salary?”, “how tall are you?” and “what’s your education background”. To be honest, I am a little angry with them and meanwhile, I feel bad for these young men who are being tortured by ten mothers-in-law at one time.

It goes without saying that marriage requires certain economic base but money is not everything. If the husband prepares house and car before getting married, the couple would have less sense of achievement afterwards.

Sadly, most mothers don’t get this point yet. One of my best friends’ mom once dragged her to my home and complained tearfully in front of my mom. My friend was in a serious relationship with a guy who didn’t have an apartment in Shanghai. Although my mom told her it’s best to respect daughter’s will but she still made them break up. She’s now very happy as my friend is dating a guy whose parents have bought four apartments.

The fact is, my friend doesn’t really care about the house and money. But now, because of her mom, she’s waiting to marry this guy who she doesn’t really like that much. “My mom said material is priority. Feelings can be cultivated with time going by”, she told me with a reluctant smile.

It’s not the only case that I’ve heard or witness. We have a big gap with our parents when it comes to choosing spouse. I doubt these mothers-in-law on that dating show really know what type of men their daughters prefer as a few daughters on the spot pointed out right away that they actually like the men that their mothers just eliminated for them.

This is a good sign. More Shanghainese young women should stand out and decide on their own issues. I hope my friend can fight for her happiness without being manipulated by her mom who is a typical Shanghainese mother-in-law.

I am not saying that all mothers-in-law are like that in Shanghai as a mother in the show told a male guest, “I chose you because I can see that you’re a warm-hearted young man who will be a loving and responsible husband in the future. I don’t care if you have a prepared house or car for my daughter. I believe true love can conquer everything.”

Her attitude is high appreciated. Young women need suggestions from their mothers but they should be the ones who make the final decision. The more the mothers interfere with daughters’ marriage, the more likely more girls will be leftover.

Please give daughters more freedom and be more tolerant. The image of Shanghainese mothers-in-laws needs to be remolded.

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One thought on “Remold the image of Shanghainese’s mother-in-law

  1. Dear Yiying Fan,

    Actually I believe any Shanghainese mother in law is a force to be reckoned with whether you are married to their son or daughter. I am Chinese, grew up in Australia, and don’t speak a word of Chinese due to circumstances, not due to choice. My husband is Shanghainese. As the years have gone by I understand why people just don’t like Shanghainese people, and avoid them althogether except in very social situations, or only if you know how to handle them. It is just in their nature and culture which is very specific to Shanghainese people. They just have a mind set which means you will always be outside of the family, and hence treated as such, and to be used. But what for?

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