Imagine escaping the relentless pressure of your job, not by finding a new career, but by opting to become a‘full-time daughter’ where familial bonds replace business contracts, and chores become your daily tasks – a controversial choice made by one 40-year-old  ex-news agency worker, fueling heated discussions about dependence, family responsibilities, and societal expectations.

Nianan, a previously overworked news agency employee, took an unconventional route for financial security, trading in her stressful 24/7 job for a more personal, familial role, made possible by her parents’ offer of employment. Faced with an opportunity to leave her job that caused her considerable stress, she took her parents’ offer of a monthly stipend of 4,000 yuan ($570), effectively becoming a ‘full-time daughter’ and immersing herself in a domestic environment free from work-related anxieties.

Over the past year, Nianan has transformed her role from an on-call journalist to a caring daughter, spending her days engaging in wholesome activities with her parents, including grocery shopping, cooking, chauffeuring, and even sharing joyful moments on the dance floor. Far from an easy retirement, this role presents its own unique set of challenges.

In her capacity as a ‘full-time daughter’, she is tasked with managing household electronics and planning family trips, demonstrating the breadth of responsibilities that come with this unconventional employment. However, despite the fulfilling nature of her job, the lure of financial independence sometimes stirs a desire for more.

Her understanding parents, nonetheless, support her in this: “If you find a more suitable job, you can go for it. If you don’t want to work, just stay at home and spend time with us,” they reassured her, signifying the underlining love and support in their unique arrangement.

According to the South China Morning Post, Nianan’s monthly ‘salary’ is a fraction of her parents’ pension, which amounts to around 100,000 yuan ($15,000) monthly.

This unorthodox arrangement has stirred quite a storm online in China, polarizing opinions between critics who perceive Nianan’s choice as exploitative, and supporters who argue the decision is a private family matter.

Detractors label this arrangement as ‘ken lao’, a term denoting reliance on parents and, more literally, ‘eating the old’. Yet supporters challenge this perspective, questioning why one wouldn’t be allowed to offer their time and care in return for parental support when both parties consent.

The broader cultural context also plays a role in this discussion. China’s infamous ‘996’ work culture – toiling from 9am to 9pm six days a week – has driven numerous workers to severe depression and burnout. This has given rise to the ‘laying down’ movement, wherein young people choose to abandon the traditional work culture to lead more fulfilling, less stressful lives.

In this cultural landscape, Nianan’s choice is more than just an unusual personal decision; it could be seen as a non-conformist stand against a toxic work culture, and a reassertion of family values. Furthermore, it provokes a necessary dialogue about work-life balance, familial responsibility, and the price of maintaining mental health in our fast-paced world.

Sources: Odditycentral, South China Morning Post

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