How Family Culture has changed in China

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Family culture in China has changed significantly over the last few decades. Over time many parts of Chinese culture has become much more similar to the western world and this is certainly the case within families.

Traditionally families compromised of large family units sometimes with over one hundred family member living together in one settlement, although these extremes were much more common in rural areas. Families were ruled by the oldest male with the torch passed down when he died to his first born son. It was very much a hierarchal system. All members of a family worked within the family business, and when people got married the wife would move in with her husband's family, sometimes never seeing her own family again. This type of family set up was more common in wealthy families but was still commonplace elsewhere.

As far as family law was considered, divorce was very rare and usually not considered no matter how unhappy a marriage became. An exception may have been if a woman did not give birth to a son, as husbands could divorce their wives on these grounds. Boys were valued significantly more than girls, and sometimes even killed as they were considered useless. They were unable to continue the family name, so were not deemed as being as important. Men made all the decisions and women marrying into a new family had no real say.

Marriages compromised of very formal relationships with each person expected to keep to their position within the family. Children were especially expected to know their place within society. Family honour was deemed extremely important with children expected to give their family and good name and reputation. Father's were even allowed to kill disobeying children. Marriages were almost always arranged by parents in traditional China. These decisions were usually made when children were very young, and most did not know their future husband or wife until the wedding.

Many areas of family life have changed since, although family values are still considered important. Family units are much small often with only parents and children, much like western cultures. Grandparents living with families are still fairly common though when compared with the west. Both men and women now work, whereas it used to be exclusively men. Quite a common family dynamic is for grandparents to look after children during the daytime while their parents are at work.

Whereas boys used to be considered much more useful and important, girls are now treated as being equals. Jobs around the home are done by everyone - not just women. Parents are still relatively strict though, although not in comparison with the past. Some arranged marriage do still occur but these are now the exception rather than the rule.

The one-child rule that came in in 1979 making it illegal for many families to have more than one child has had an impact on the family. The obvious difference is that it means that families are smaller; in the 1970's the average woman gave birth to five children. Worldwide travel has also had an impact. It was previously illegal for Chinese people to travel but since this ban was lifted families have often been further part. Young people often travel or even move abroad, meaning the family unit is further fragmented.

Family Law is now much more in line with the western world. Divorce is now common place and increasing rapidly - by approximately 50% every year.

The family dynamic has changed a lot in China, as the whole country has become more westernised. The changes are more noticeable in the major City's than rural areas, where traditional values are more similar to the past. Families have gone from being large units ruled by the oldest male, to smaller families where all people are valued equally.

Andrew Marshall ©

Family Law London

Family Law Solicitors London

Family Law Solicitors London

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