The Chinese grandparents will want to go the Chinese way: split-pants. Living in China with your wife, you most likely have already been exposed to grandmothers holding toddlers over garbage cans to “deposit” their waste, or mothers making their child squat on the sandbox to pee. And these young children all wear the same type of pants with a slit on the back. This is potty training the Chinese way.
Whether or not your Chinese wife’s parents live with you, you should already know that they like having a say in everything that involves the family. Once you and your wife have your first baby, they will want to get even more involved. Before that happens, it would be best for you and the wife to start discussing how you want to potty train your child.
The western way is, of course, using disposable diapers. These nifty products certainly make taking care of babies and children who are not yet potty trained easier for parents, especially when the whole family is out. One simply has to change diapers on a regular schedule and when the child poops; there are no “accidents,” wet pants and beddings, poop on the chair or floor, and rushing to find the nearest restroom when you’re out of the house!
To a certain degree, going the disposable diaper way is the “lazy” approach. Given that most western families have both parents working, however, using disposable diapers is certainly more convenient. At the same time, it is common for western children to still be wearing diapers even when they’re already three, four, or even five years old and, obviously, to still not be potty trained.
In china, disposable diapers and even cloth diapers are not commonly used even for newborns. Certainly, there are a lot of poor Chinese families for whom diapers are luxuries they can’t afford; but even among those who can afford them (and don’t forget that the Chinese are prone to pampering their children), split-pants are preferred.
This preference has a lot to do with traditional Chinese beliefs about health (for this reason, Chinese parents who are not so traditional and who don’t have their child’s grandparents taking care of their children are those who go the diaper way). Parents, grandparents, and even nannies who believe that split-pants are better do so for reasons that are sometimes valid, and other times just plain superstitious.
Ask any Chinese parent/grandparent/nanny who thinks diapers are inferior why and he/she will say any or all of these things: diapers are hot; they’re dirty; they make the baby uncomfortable; they’re not good for baby’s skin and health; they’re not environmentally friendly.
On the outset, these all seem like very good reasons; but their reasoning goes deeper than its seemingly correct logic. For example, when they say diapers are “too hot,” they don’t only mean that it makes the body hot and sweaty; they also mean it in the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) sense that has to do about “fire,” “harmony,” “qi,” and all those nice things.
Whether or not you, and maybe your wife too, will be one of those parents who will delay potty training for as long as possible because, well, it’s not a task any parent really looks forward to, you will most likely not like the idea of having your child peeing and pooping just about anywhere.
At the same time, if you will be raising your child in China and after you successfully have him/her potty trained, and she’s exposed to all other children “going” anytime and anywhere, that will probably be another “teaching/learning opportunity” you will not look forward to but, nonetheless, have to prepare for.
So should you just do as every other Chinese parent/grandparent/nanny does? Is resistance really futile? The best course would be to figure out a “Potty Training Plan of Action: Diapers versus Split-pants” with your wife way before your first child is born.
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