Chinese New Year is around the corner, and while the older generations busy themselves with festive preparations, you sense the lack of enthusiasm among the younger generations at home. When asked what they look forward to during Chinese New Year, it is not uncommon to hear answers such as “wearing new clothes”, “collecting red packets” and “no need to go to school/work” from the younger ones.
The significance and weight of an occasion as important as Chinese New Year seemed to have faded as years passed, and this is extra prominent among the younger generations. Why is it so?
1. The lack of older generations in the family
In most families where grandparents and older relatives are around, Chinese New Year would usually be a big deal filled with gatherings and celebrations. This is not the case in many other families where grandparents have already passed on. The older generations play a very important role in sustaining traditions and making the family come together. If they are not around, the younger generations may be more reluctant to take on the role of gathering the family.
2. The effect of “westernization”
While westernization is not completely to blame, it does play a part in the fading of traditional non-western traditions. The younger generations have a wider exposure to western cultures, thanks to factors such as the media, accessibility to information and the ease of traveling. This means that they are also more prone to adopt western cultures, altering their perspective on traditional Chinese values and traditions. There seemed to be a distinctive difference in the way younger generations view Christmas and Chinese New Year. While the latter seemed to be a more significant festival for the older generations, the younger generations are more engaged in the first.
3. Weak inter-generational relationship
With the hectic lifestyle Singaporeans are leading, it is no wonder we find it hard to maintain a work-life balance. Many younger generations are too involved in the rat race for success that they neglect their family. Needless to say, the lack of time spent with family jeopardizes the bond and relationship between inter-generational ties. There are many instances where we only meet our grandparents and relative once a year. In such cases, the younger generations feel less attached to these family members and do not see the point in gathering with the extended family. This may contribute to the reason why they become less involved in Chinese New Year celebrations and traditions.
4. Inability to communicate
Sure, Chinese New Year gatherings are meant for the family to catch up with one another and stay connected. However, many younger generations dread going to such gatherings because they find it hard to communicate with their family. As a parent, an aunt or uncle, or whatever position you hold in the family, avoid asking the younger generations frustrating questions such as “How are your school grades?”, “Which university are you enrolling into?”, “Do you have a girl/boyfriend yet?”, “Have you found a job?”, and “When are you getting married?” A gathering is meant to be filled with positivity and laughter, not stress and frustration. Spare your children the pep talk, or at least refrain from it on such joyful occasions.
5. Strained family ties
While the festival was created to foster closer family ties and encourage family reunions, these beautiful meanings have started to lose significance because of strained family ties. If you haven’t made the effort to maintain a close relationship with your children over the year, don’t expect them to suddenly warm up to you on Chinese New Year. No matter how busy you are, as a parent, always express your love for your children and let them know that you’ve got their back. Make consistent efforts to stay up to date with their lives, and observe any difficulties they may be facing. If they are struggling with school work, enroll them in a good tuition center like Making Sense so that they can be coached by the best. If they are struggling with relationships, lend them a listening ear and provide them the best advice you can offer. Always remember that family bonding should not only occur during special occasions!