A Comparison Between The Traditional Chinese Family With An American Family
A Comparison Between The Traditional Chinese Family With An American Family
People have their own ways of sharing culture in the environment that they live in - A Comparison Between The Traditional Chinese Family With An American Family introduction. Some have greatly influenced the other cultures, by simply practicing their culture each day. One of the greatest cultures known to man is that of the Chinese.
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The Chinese have been considered to be one of the most widely practiced cultures in the world. Respect is being practiced greatly from among its people, wherein others become impressed with their kind of culture. One of the greatest practices of the Chinese culture that continues to impress other people is their love for their family.
The Chinese Culture gives great importance to the family. An individual’s rank in the family is used as the determining factor for their position and preference in the family (Baker, 2008). In the English language, siblings are regarded to be either the “brother” or “sister. Regardless of whether they are older or younger, this is the only respect that they could receive from the rest of the family. On the contrary, the Chinese Culture does not permit such names. Each sibling is assigned a specific name that should be used when addressing them. When the sibling is caught not using the said name, then it is regarded as disrespect for the elder.
Furthermore, culture also gives importance to the order of birth of the children. As mentioned earlier, the birth order of the children determine their authority in the family. The Chinese culture dictates that the men have more power over the women. In this regard, the oldest son has the greatest responsibility. He is expected to become successful, and make the family proud. In addition to this, he is expected to become the name carrier of the family. However, if the oldest son dies, or becomes in danger, the second son would take his place in everything. The same goes for the other children, in the event that something happens to the older children (Baker, 2008).
In this light, the oldest sister is expected to care for the younger siblings and the rest of the family. In the absence of a mother or other female elder, the oldest sister is expected to run the household and make sure that everything is alright. This kind of set up would change when the oldest brother would marry. In this regard, his wife would become the matriarch and assume the duties that once belonged to the oldest sister.
Moreover, the male dominated culture of the family does not prohibit the women in the family to be free from their familial obligations. When the oldest sister marries, they only widen their scope of responsibility. This means that the oldest sister would still be in-charge of her family, and also the family she will share with her husband. The duties and responsibilities attributed to them may be quite tedious, but the Chinese were able to survive this for many generations.
Moreover, it is best to say the typical Traditional Chinese Family is patrilineal. This means that the family was based and would function under a male head. In addition to this, equality was not really practiced in this culture. The head of the family is always the father, or the oldest male in the family. As a patriarchal lineage, the other members of the family have no choice but to follow what their patriarch has in store for them. In this regard, each and every member of the family is also expected to follow what their superior has instructed. The inability to follow such would lead to several consequences, even to the point of having the family member disowned (The Traditional Chinese Family & Lineage, November 23, 2008).
Furthermore, the Chinese have also been regarded to be respectful towards the people around them, regardless of age. A name is given to each person, especially those who were older. People who were younger were also given names as a sign of respect. This gesture somewhat showed people that regardless of their statures in life, respect would always be given to them.
In this light, the Chinese are also regarded to be business minded. For every business that they indulge in, they make sure that the business stays within the family. Even if the Chinese would expand their business, they would make sure that the businesses are handled by family members. In this regard, the family becomes well knit, both in personal and in the business world. This just proves how much importance the Chinese would give their family, especially in making it big in the economic world.
It has also been stated that a traditional Chinese family would share a common budget. Regardless of where the family member was, they were regarded to share the same budget. All of the money they earned was being sent to the patriarch of the family, who would then disseminate the money to the members of the family. It was the belief of the older Chinese that families who share a common budget would economically help the family. They would learn to control the spending, and would enable them to save enough money for themselves (The Traditional Chinese Family & Lineage, November 23, 2008).
Another practice seen among the traditional Chinese family was keeping their race intact. It has been known to many that in terms of marriage and union, the Chinese would opt to marry from the same race – meaning they would marry someone who was also Chinese. I remember having friends who have been very sensitive with this matter. There was still the traditional “fixed marriage”, wherein the parents would choose whom their children would marry. This was normally done to keep the business within the families, which would coincide with the union of two families. The parents from both sides would be complacent in keeping their family business, and also being complacent with the person that their child would marry. In this regard, they would be able to avoid problems such as battered and abused wives and children, and financial problems of the newly wed.
Although the Chinese have a very traditional culture, there are certain things that were also in tune with the changes of society. The Chinese were also open to separations, such as divorce and annulment. However, as compared with other races and cultures, the Chinese only agreed to a few valid reasons for the said separation. Living in a patriarchal culture meant that divorce was normally attributed to the fault of the women. These include the women’s inability to adhere to the authorities of the hierarchy, and the wife’s inability to fulfill the duties that come with the marriage (The Traditional Chinese Family & Lineage, November 23, 2008). Basically, it is the same as saying that the culture of the traditional Chinese family was embraced by the practices that people were accustomed to.
In addition to this, the Chinese would hold on to their lineage as much as possible. Being pure Chinese, regardless of wherever they were in the world was also something to be considered. Holding on to a culture was not something that all people would consider. When exposed to different cultures, others would have a more open mind and would not have any preference in terms of the life time partner. This was definitely a practice that has spanned generations and generations, wherein a lineage of extraordinary culture has not been buried with the rest of the previous patriarchs.
On the contrary, the American culture is somewhat different from the Chinese culture. The typical American culture would permit equality among the people, regardless of the age. Their family was not based on what one member of the family would decide. The decisions made by the elders were a compilation of each of the family member’s thoughts and emotions. Giving the reason, “because I said so”, was not practiced much in the American culture.
A typical American family was somewhat described to enjoy each other’s company, and become each member’s comfort zone. In the absence of household help, each member of the family was expected to do their household chores. Sometimes a schedule was made so that the house would be maintained organized. Even the young children had their share of help in the house. One would be tasked to put out the trash, and another child would be tasked to bring out the dishes. The father would be in charge of taking care of other parts of the house, while the mother would be preparing the food, and doing the laundry. As mentioned earlier, the tasks may be shuffled, making each member knowledgeable of the task that would be assigned to them.
When eating dinner, each member of the family was allowed to speak and share their thoughts and emotions about the day that has passed. Each and every member of the family had the free will to express themselves in a manner that would suit them. This was in contrast to what the traditional Chinese family practiced. The Chinese would speak only when being asked, and when permitted.
In addition to this, the typical American family practiced equality as much as possible. Although the parents still had the power over their children, American parents were not regarded to be close minded. They allowed their children to do the things that attracted their interest, and caught their attention. The children were also allowed to express themselves, through whatever medium they wished.
As the children reach their teenage years, they become more expressive towards themselves. These may be seen through the kind of clothes that they preferred, and the kind of friends they have. In this regard, the parents would learn to adjust to the kind of lifestyle that would suit their children.
It should also be understood that the United States gives much importance to the welfare of the children, like any other country. Laws have been stipulated protecting the children of America. This would sometimes come as a disadvantage for the parents, especially when trying to discipline their children. For the wrong actions that the children do, the parents would try to call their attention. Sometimes, they become physical towards each other just to send the message across. However, hurting the children in the United States is a crime that may also lead to their imprisonment.
At a very young age, children are brought to the impression that they would always be protected by the government. All they had to was make a phone call and report that their parents were hitting them. As a result, the children would become rebellious and without no fear. Well, there was a small percentage of children who did not have to be disciplined, for they knew the realities that others do not see.
Moreover, the American culture was also similar to the Chinese culture in terms of gatherings. The important dates in the American calendar where celebrated with gatherings that involved family and friends. This was a good way of developing the bonds that were formed between those present, especially that of the family members. It was funny to actually think that both cultures shared the same interest in terms of developing the relationship that existed between family members.
Unlike the Chinese, the American family was not focused in practicing a patriarchal family. In reality, the women were being given the opportunity to practice their rights. In the United States, the women were also given the chance to work in companies together with the men. They had the opportunity to share their talents and gifts with the rest of society. Also, the women are given the chance to contribute to the finances that the family would need every month.
This kind of practice was actually a good one, for it meant that the women had their place in society. In addition to this, the women were not only confined in the four walls of the house, taking care of the children and the other needs of the family. She was given the opportunity to practice what she has learned through her many years in school, and at the same time, hone intellectual capabilities.
Unfortunately, respect for the elders was not given much importance as the Chinese did. The typical American family practiced equality among each other, so the relationship with the elderly was given less importance. Yes, there were the usual names that were used to call older people, but brothers and sisters were only regarded as such. This was in contrast to the overwhelming respect that the Chinese were accustomed to. As mentioned earlier, the Chinese addressed each member of their family according to the order of their birth. The translations would include “wife of first brother, the husband of the third sister” and so forth. This was a more limited way of showing the respect that was being attributed to the American culture, such as “aunt or uncle”.
However, there are times when the American culture does not pay as much respect to the name calling, such as the Chinese were. There are instances that the Americans would just prefer to call each one by their first names, regardless of the age difference. It was surprising to actually see that there were those who would prefer to call their father-in-law by the first name, rather than call him “dad”. I guess this was a way of showing that they were welcomed in the family.
In this light, I am reminded by the fact that the Chinese would always have someone assigned to take care of the family. At some point, I felt that it was fair for the Chinese families to assign someone to care for the family. I pictured the elders and the young children who grew up independently because their parents were always working.
The parents are expected to care for their children, especially during their formative years. However, as the parents grow older, they do not have anything to bind their children to take care of them. As their children grow older, they become more and more accustomed to the life that they have lived. Unfortunately, they lack the time to care for their parents, and just place them in a convalescent home, where others would care for the parents. Sometimes, the lack of time even prohibits them from spending time with these elderly. A sad reality, indeed.
As I try to put the pieces together, I come to the conclusion that culture of the Chinese to have one member of the family in charge was a good thing. This may be attributed to the fact that as the parents grow older, they have a daughter to care for them. There was no need to have the parents confined in a convalescent home, for they were to be cared by the children. In addition to this, there was no difficulty in trying to make the remaining days of the elderly comfortable, for the child in charge would be able to give everything that was needed.
In terms of freedom, I believe that the Americans were more liberated than the Chinese. This may be attributed to the fact that the Americans were considered adults as they reach the age of 18. They were considered to be of legal age, and were allowed to make decisions for themselves. However, this kind of freedom is sometimes overlooked, causing more problems among these people.
The Chinese culture would disagree with this kind of perception. It has been their practice to cradle the family members even after they have worked and graduated from college. This may be attributed to the fact that the Chinese would as much as possible want their children to become successful even before they are given the freedom. It is actually of helping others to have a focus in life, and not just merely cradling them. In a more positive note, this kind of perception allows the children to have higher dreams and become successful.
Marriage was another thing to be considered. Unlike the Chinese, the Americans were not strict with the kind of marriages that occurred. Having a mixture of races was not a big deal, and was open to everyone. As long as the marrying couple was of legal age, nothing else would be taken into consideration. In addition to this, Americans also had the option of choosing whom to marry. Fixed marriages also existed among Americans; however these are not practiced as much as the Chinese did.
Furthermore, marriage by the Americans was a long process as those of the Chinese. The Chinese believed that as much as possible, there should only be one legal wife. If it was possible to avoid separation, then better for everyone. However, there are times when unavoidable circumstances permitted separation.
The Americans, on the other hand, could instantly marry, as long as they were of legal age. For this, separation was easily conducted. Unlike the Chinese, numerous reasons could be accepted by the court for separation. Even the simple “irreconcilable differences” was permitted in court. Moreover, they could also separate no matter how many times they wanted to.
There are still several differences and similarities that exist between both cultures. For one, the preference that each culture had towards respecting their elders was something to be considered. At first, I fond it unfair to have someone “assigned” to care for the needs of the other family members. But as my thoughts progressed, I realized that veracity was everything that mattered. As each person would professionally progress, time would become more limited. I could just imagine how difficult it would be to have elders confined in a home and cared for by people they are not related with. I guess it would be better to just have someone close to the family to be with and cater to one’s needs. This was definitely something that should be considered fairly.
However, I believe that following these would be the prerogative of an individual, and not just followed by what society dictates of them. In addition to this, I believe that having a closely knit family is one of the many similarities that both cultures have. Gatherings and festivities was a way for both cultures to improve the relationships they had with family and friends.
From everything that has been said, I believe that both cultures have true intentions of promoting the their generations of practice with the whole world. It is just a matter of how each and every one of us would take these practices.
Baker, C. (2008). Chinese family-Brothers and sisters. Retrieved November 20, 2008 from http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art43970.asp
(November 23, 2008). The traditional Chinese family and lineage. Retrieved November 24, 2008 from http://weber.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/chin/hbfamilism-u.html