When my sister in Canada was pregnant we mailed her some Chinese split-pants (开裆裤) as a joke. There’s no way she would possibly have taken them seriously. But they’re no joke to most Mainland Chinese. I can’t remember ever hearing about split-pants before we came to China, and I’d certainly never seen them in action! Most North Americans probably don’t even know what Chinese split-pants are, and the ones who do know probably aren’t aware that most Chinese people greatly prefer them to diapers. Chinese parents typically don’t use diapers, at least not like we do, not because they’re an unaffordable luxury, but because they feel diapers are horribly inferior to split-pants.
Yesterday I played The Poopsmith Song by Over the Rhine (listen / lyrics) for my students before making them compare and discuss Western and Chinese styles of potty training. Had about 30 in the class, in their 20’s to 40’s, and they produced a long list of criticisms: diapers make the baby uncomfortable, they’re environmentally unfriendly, dirty, bad for the baby’s health and skin, too hot, etc. There was only one student who had anything good to say about Western-style (i.e. diaper-using) potty training, and I’m pretty sure he was just throwing the foreign teacher/father a bone. I actually had to explain some of the major differences between North American and Chinese potty training styles because most of the class didn’t know anything about North American potty training. For example, they didn’t know that most “foreigners” don’t know about and have never even seen split-pants.
I’m not advocating one way or the other here, but I am curious about what different families do in China, especially if one or both parents is a foreigner and they’ve decided to use split-pants. I know of a couple expat/Chinese couples that do Chinese-style potty training — in both cases the husband is the foreigner. I’ve got my preferences, of course, but to each their own; I don’t really care how other families do it so long as you clean it up afterward. So, my question to couples who actually considered both methods of potty training: Which method do you use? How did you decide? What are the pros and cons in your experience? I’m genuinely curious. (But don’t worry, mom — it’s only idle curiosity. I know I promised. :) )
(P.S. – The photo is from this gallery: Morning with a village family.)