Chinese Family Values: How They Affect Life in China

In China, family is regarded as the most important part of an individual's life. While modern Chinese families have abandoned many old practices, the importance attributed to family remains strong.

The Traditional Chinese Family
China is known for its strong family system. Traditionally, the Chinese family had well-defined roles for different family members.

Respect for Elders
Elders were supposed to be respected and followed unquestioningly.
In Chinese culture elders are viewed as a source of wisdom and spirituality, and they are respected to the extent that questioning their authority is considered offensive.

In traditional Chinese houses altars are made for deceased elders to honor and remember them. Even after departing from the world they are supposed to be the guiding forces in spirit.

Middle-Generation Parents as Providers
Parents (or working-age adults) too had a very important part to play in the family as providers for all. While the elders were always at the controlling end for reasons of respect, the next generation married and had children as young as possible, and then worked as hard as possible to provide for both their parents and children.

Children as Future Investments
Children had no authority over their own life and decisions were always made for them. Youngsters were always at the receiving end of family decisions. They were rigorously trained and prepared to serve their elders.

Men vs Women: Patriarchal Influence on the Family
In addition to being patriarchal, Chinese society is patrilineal.

Therefore, even after marrying into a household, women are seen as the outsiders. In the Chinese family every relation has a different name. The names for family members on the maternal side begin with wai meaning 'outside'.

Emphasizing their external position, women who marry in China don't adopt their husbands' family name and retain their own family name. For example, if Miss Wang marries Mr Li, she becomes Mrs Wang, not Mrs Li.
Women's role in the family was firstly as child bearers, then as home makers and workers, always subservient to the men of the house.


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