“Raising them was so tiring. If the grandparents had been able to take care of my kids, then I would have gone out a lot sooner,” she says.
Grandparents say they feel hampered as caretakers by poor health, limited schooling and a lack of authority.
A couple surnamed Ouyang — both 83, hard of hearing and too weak to shuffle far beyond their front door — hardly interact with the preteen granddaughter in their care.
Nobody cleans the house, the grandmother says, except when the elder sister visits from university once a month.
A sprightlier 86-year-old Wan Daizhen has more energy for the 14-year-old grandson she has raised for 13 years, but worries the boy would be better behaved with his parents.
“He really misses them,” she says. “He doesn’t listen as much to what I say.”
For 72-year-old Zheng Futao, the schoolwork of the 12-year-old grandson he has raised since infancy has long surpassed his ability to help.
“First, second, third, fourth grade were okay. But not after he got to middle school, with biology, English,” he says. “Of the 26 letters of the alphabet I only know ‘C.’”