If someone does not already knew: I became daddy in July of this year 🙂 Such a big change in life surely also has an impact on my point of views. I remember that I already wrote something about kids in Taiwan (go to sleep very late, great pressure at school), but yet I did not think about where life for children would actually be better: in Taiwan or in Germany?
I have two German friends who are also married to Taiwanese women and got a child last year. Both of them recently decided to leave Taiwan and go back to Germany to give their kids a better environment. So do children in Taiwan grow up in an unfriendly environment? Is that maybe the reason for the super low birth rate in Taiwan?
When I see how Taiwanese deal with kids, I do not have such a negative impression. Although I doubt the sense of responsibility of Taiwanese, I have to say that Taiwanese are very child-friendly. I think calling them „little friends“ (note: 小朋友 a synonym for kids up to age 12 or so) reflects a society in which children are welcome. We do not call children like this in Germany… and in contrast to Germany I also think that the very most Taiwanese can tolerate the noise and behavior of children.
From that side Taiwan seems to be a good place for children. However, we should distinguish between two separate things. What I mentioned above are „soft facts“ in my opinion. A feeling given from the society to each and everyone. On the other hand there are „hard facts“, the important things in life, in regard to children namely money, education and environment.
If you want to raise children, it will cost money. That is simply the way it is. In Taiwan, however, the situation of child benefits is rather poor. We once got an amount of 10,000 NT, that was all. In Germany, one will get about 7,500 NT per child per month until the child graduated. I have heard that people in Taipei could get child benefits, but Taipei is not whole of Taiwan or in other words, are kids in Taipei simply more worth than other kids in Taiwan?
I know that the situation might change quite soon due to the extremely low birth rate, however, whether child benefits or parents money, Taiwan probably will never (never wants?) to reach the same level than Germany.
Talking about eduction: I already posted my opinion about the Taiwanese education system here. As far as I am concerned, I totally cannot imagine letting my daughter go to a Taiwanese school, studying the whole day, exposing her to the pressure of the Taiwanese education system and even paying money for that kind of system!! I think education might be a reason to go back to Germany. The German education system by far is not the best in the world either, but children in Germany can still enjoy their childhood next to learning.
Another important „hard fact“ is the environment. Be honest, would you dare to push a stroller from the door of your house? Would you dare to push that stroller to the next playground? Do you feel safe with a small kid on Taiwanese streets? Of course…people without sense of responsibility do not have to worry about those things, but I will never be able to stop complaining about Taiwan’s traffic.
Reading the above problems I have to say that children (and parents) in Taiwan really have a hard life. Taiwan’s society loves them, but the government seems to nearly punish them. The government seems not being able making kids‘ life easier. I myself decided to look at the above points year for year from now on and to consider whether I can still accept those deficits or not. I hope that Taiwan will find a way to solve these problems quite soon, but I am rather afraid that Taiwan might need many more years to even understand them.