A student folds clothes at a student dormitory in a university in Changchun. (File photo/Xinhua)
A female college student in east China has garnered public and media attention since sending her dirty clothes and socks home to be washed by her grandmother.
A 74-year-old woman in the northeastern city of Dalian last week received a parcel of dirty clothes from her granddaughter who recently enrolled in a university in Qingdao. The student asked her grandmother to return the clothes after washing them, according to a local newspaper.
Newspapers and online news services quickly circulated the report, thrusting the student under the spotlight with commentaries criticizing her as well as the modern family and education systems.
Since the beginning of the fall semester, media reports have continuously emerged about a number of new college students — often the products of one-child families — crying or fainting during routine military training. Some parents have even stood nearby to watch their sons and daughters perform the exercises.
These reports have shocked many and given rise to the question of whether indulgent parents should be to blame for their children's inability to take care of themselves.
"(The young students) should have basic operating abilities, and they surely need to know how to tend to their clothes and their lives themselves," wrote netizen "snow" on Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like microblogging service in China. "They can not depend on their families their whole lives."
Many netizens have expressed the belief that so-called "helicopter parenting" is at the root of why some young adults are unable to take care of themselves.
"Nowadays, many children are fragile," wrote "Laozhangxiao" on Weibo, explaining that this is the result of parents not forcing their children to have responsibilities at home, such as household chores.
Xu Yafei, a junior at Nanchang University, told Xinhua that he had never washed clothes prior to entering university and once took a month's worth of dirty socks home for his mother to wash. "Later, I realized that I should live independently and, therefore, started making attempts to change."
"College campus life is half like a society. After graduation, we need to live more independently," Xu added.
Freshman Liu Hao started doing his own laundry this summer, and now has no problems with campus life. "During the summer vacation, my parents arranged for me to do household chores to prepare for university life."
Families, schools and society as a whole should reflect on some young people's basic inability to take care of themselves, wrote "Xiaoshaonianqing" on Weibo.
Under the current education system, students learn mechanically from textbooks and, therefore, lack a sense of responsibility, caring hearts and self-sufficiency, education experts have said.
Young students have long been trained to study hard in school, and mastering the abilities that would make them self-sufficient and independent is not a priority during their primary school and high school years, said Yin Xiaojian, a researcher at the Jiangxi Academy of Social Sciences.
Universities should take all of a prospective student's abilities into consideration, and only then would parents demand that their children develop in an all-around way, Yin said.
"In the long term, it's the responsibility of parents to push their children to master the ability to take care of themselves," Yin added.