China’s Firstborn Rebel Against Siblings

February 3, 2015 Updated: February 4, 2015

Last year, Chinese authorities made amendments to its notorious one-child policy: couples may now have two children, provided at least one of the parents is an only child.

While many parents have jumped at the chance to welcome a fourth family member, their children don’t always agree.

One thirteen-year-old girl from the city of Wuhan in central China, dubbed “Wenwen” by the Chinese media, was so opposed to the prospect of becoming an older sister that she attempted suicide, compelling her mother to terminate her pregnancy rather than put up with her daughter’s continued antics.

The 44-year-old Mrs. Xiao aborted her second child, conceived with her husband after a year’s effort, near the 14th week of pregnancy, the state-run Yangtse Evening Post reported this January.

“She is the little princess of our family,” Mrs. Xiao said. “She’s badly spoiled and has been willful and uncompromising from a young age. Ever since she learned I was pregnant, she often threatened to jump off a building if I give her a little brother or sister.”

Mrs. Xiao found scars on Wenwen’s arms and discovered razor blades in her room. Frightened, Mrs. Xiao and her husband decided to give up on a second child.

In another case, five-year-old “Gege,” daughter of one Mrs. Li, has refused to recognize her mother as such following the birth of a younger brother.

“Now that you’ve given birth to a little brother, you don’t need me to be your child. From now on, I’m going to be my grandma’s daughter,” Gege announced, according to her mother in an interview with the Chinese media Modern Express.

Now that you’ve given birth to a little brother, you don’t need me to be your child.
— Gege

Under China’s one-child policy, introduced in the late 1970s to curb population growth, many children in modern China have grown up at the center of their families. They receive the exclusive attention of parents and grandparents, leading to the widespread perception that they tend to be spoiled.

In particular among the nouveau-riche, Chinese people have often pointed to the one-child policy’s role in encouraging the rise of so-called “little emperors and empresses.”

While nearly 80 percent of American children live with one or more sibling, according to a 2011 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, 64 percent of Chinese children had no siblings in 2012, according to Chinese newspaper West China Metropolis Daily.

Particularly for China’s urban dwellers, having a sibling may lead to unwanted attention, exacerbating the anxiety of firstborns over their parents’ decisions, Chinese psychologist Wu Zhihong told the Metropolis Daily.

These children, raised for many years with the full and undivided attention of both parents, may be overly dependent, the expert said.

Attempting to placate their children in anticipation of second children, some parents may be indulging their firstborns even more.

In an open declaration posted by an Internet user going by the name “Dida,” she and her husband have written a promise to their eight-year-old daughter, saying that they will always love their “first baby the most,” the Yangtse Evening Post reported.

Below the statement in Dida’s letter are the parents’ signatures. Beneath those is their daughter’s approval: “Pass!”