Culture & Lifestyle > Family

In a patriarchal society, Vietnamese woman had limited rights and took a secondary place in family. Women were brought up according to a strict discipline, and have been traditionally less educated than men. They usually do not enter the job market outside the home. "Girls from birth were at a disadvantage". Daughter is not considered necessary in heritage. According to Lam, Vietnamese traditional viewpoint was "If you have a son, you can say you have a descendent. But you cannot say so even if you have ten daughters".
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After marriage, woman became housewife and mother. She was expected to be dependent upon her husband, budgeted his income for the household, took care of children and even grandchildren, performed all household tasks. According to Muzny, divorce was legal but not common. A wife can be unhappy in her marriage; but rather than accepts divorce, the family encouraged her to sacrifice and to endure the difficulties of the marriage for the sake of her children.
 
Parental role in family was to define the law. Obedience and respect were the traditional virtues which Vietnamese children were taught to exhibit in the family. Discipline and physical punishment were acceptable remedies for disobedience in the Vietnamese tradition. "Harsh discipline and beatings did not constitute abuse of a child, but its reverse: loving care, concern and attention" (Breeman). When parents grew old, children were expected to take care of them to compensate for the gift of birth and upbringing. The elderly (parents) were supported by married or unmarried children until they die (John).
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"Boys and girls are not free to do what they want. Girls are under strict supervision" (John). Western style courtship and romance were seen as inappropriate for unmarried children. "Virginity is cherished. Pregnancy out of wedlock is uncommon, and it is a grave disgrace to the family" (Muzny). For their children's marriage, parents generally made decision because they could judge better. 


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Vietnamese parents had a high regard for education. It was considered a way for family advancement. Parents encouraged their children to study and excel in their education. Vietnamese placed a higher value on education rather than on material success. In brief, "Depending upon the family for financial support, requesting permissions for expenditures, and having parents make decisions for them characterized the traditional Vietnamese child" .