Traditional Chinese family is slowly changing

October 22, 2010 | Posted by Vicky

A traditional Chinese family, above, features three generations all living together under one roof. Grandma does the cooking!

Like people anywhere, Chinese people attach great importance to family. In traditional Chinese culture, a multi-generational household with grandparents, parents, and children all living together is the norm -- which contrasts with the "nuclear" family ideals of other parts of the world. Moreover, younger generations are traditionally not allowed to challenge the decisions of older generations -- an important tenent in Confuciansim called filial piety. Tradition dictates that parents support their children until they grow up, but roles reverse when the children are required to take care of their elderly parents.

Tradition is changing

Over the past several decades, traditional family life has undergone significant changes. Big families have become fewer and fewer in big cities and most urban families are composed of only two generations -- a couple and their children. Historically, Chinese women by rule adopt their husbands’ surnames and move into his household, but this has changed. Chinese women generally do not move into their husband's household and they increasingly keep their own surnames. What’s more, whereas in the past the husband made all decisions in the household, Chinese women now enjoy equal place with their husbands and men in the house and society.

Family always most important

"Respect the old, love the young" is an enduring ethic in China handed down in many forms for thousands of years. That’s why Chinese people consider relationships with their relatives especially precious and important. Although many young couples live by themselvs without their parents in modern China, they always maintain a close bond and keep in close touch. It is said that people in China can always feel the warmth of relatives.

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