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Traditional Chinese Family Customs,status Of Dils And Current Changes.

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by sln, Apr 29, 2020.

  1. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Traditional Chinese family customs,status of Dils and current changes.


    China and everything Chinese is occupying the front pages and news channels are at their throat for allegedly not notifying the onset of Corona infection and understating the number of deaths.One thing is clear-China is not our friend., The way in which they play a negative role against India in international forums shows their intention to create stumbling blocks against India’ s rise as an economic super power.The 1962 war also has left a deep scar on the country. Being free, I thought I should understand more about their culture and their psyche which propels them to aim at achieving world domination.Obviously mothers have a role to play in moulding their psyche and inevitably mothers in law enter the picture.Hope I have given a good build up for a discussion on the subject of Chinese MIL-DIL relationship. Let me now explain the traditional chinese family life before we discuss the sweeping changes that are taking place.


    Chinese believe in arranged marriages which is better than the ones” based on hormones”.They have strong views on the doubtful stability of marriages based or romance.The reason is, like in India, marriages are between families and not the boy and girl only.Parents try to find spouses matching their temperaments and the family practices.They encourage romance to bloom after the marriages. The relationship has to be continuously nurtured to make it work and there is much more to it than physical relationship.


    The second important requirement is ability and training to live in a multigenerational house hold.Everyone has a particular place in the family hierarchy.Mother in law occupies the most important position.If the girl marries the eldest son she has allround responsibility to run the house and has a say in every important issue.The second and the other DILs enjoy importance depending on the competence and contribution of their husbands to the family earning and prosperity.The last DIL has no position and responsibility except to take care of her children.

    The family tree is carried on by men[may be gothra] and incidentally they are wary of marrying in families with same surnames. Therefore girls who bear male children enjoy maximum importance.The current crop of girls shrug this away on the ground that the husband is equally responsible for this issue..If the girl is not willing to participate in the suffering/sacrifice for the welfare of the family she will be bullied into submission by the combined force of others. The chinese have a saying “that a woman is pressure cooked into a mother in law.”The bullying is mostly verbal but a case was reported where the girl married into a rich chinese family had to work and eat with the servants until she gave birth to a son..She was then accepted into the inner circle of in laws and her importance depended on how well she brought up her child and her contribution to her husbands business.Incidentally,men ate separately from a different table away from women..


    The entire family of many sons generally carried on with one business.The sons and DILs work together for the family business.The father or whoever is the captain keeps track of income and distributes allowances to the sons depending on their need.The MIL takes care of the kitchen and house keeping and DILs also do this by rotation. Mils are possessive about bringing up grandchildren up to the age of three and the mother has not much say on the issue.When the old man retires the sons set up their own families.Old parents stay with their children by rotation.


    Before the marriage the girl is told.” Whatever you were in your birth family no longer exists; if you “marry a dog, you follow a dog, marry a chicken, you follow a chicken.” Daughters are called “money-losing items” because parents raise them to contribute to someone else’s business. When a daughter marries, her parents throw a bowl of water after the car driving her away to show that she has been washed from the family.[In tamil it is called Thanni thelichu vidu] Her first priority is now her husband’s family. The married daughter who cares for her own parents over her in-laws is asking for more abuse until she learns her place. When traditional Chinese women expressed their loyalty to their husbands they would say: “I am your family member in life and your household’s ghost in death.”


    A 36 old girl with a Greek background married to a Chinese American complained of disrespect by her MIL even to the extent of calling her a bad DIL.Mil was interfering with every thing right from what to wear,how to cook and raise her child.For days together she would not talk to her in her own house.All this happened inspite of the girl being highly educated.But for a wonderful husband the marriage would have collapsed. On the positive side a western lady writes that her MIL taking care of her child was a boon,allowing her to pursue her carear-unthinkable in her part of the world. .On the other hand, daughters were tossed away in marriage to a new family, the husband’s, and must transfer their filial piety to the in-laws. .When girls marry into chinese families they become non entities in their own house and treated as outsiders by in laws house”

    It is admitted that because chinese girls marry very young the house will collapse without an experienced Mil to run the home.. The interesting and unusual thing is that the Mil calls the DIL immediately after the wedding and gives her a talk on reproduction. Don’t forget to have kids early she says with a smile. Every time the Dil meets her MIL she feels the albatross cross around her neck until she gets a child.

    Thank God that things are changing with the decline of arranged marriages which were heavily weighed in favour of the man .Obviously girls are relieved why elated at the changing perception of DILs and more understanding relationship between MILS AND DILS

    Current scene

    The 1980 Marriage law stipulates that third parties including parents have no say in fixing marriages and money as well as gifts will not be involved in marriages.Family members are prohibited from maltreating the couple.Marriages are not permitted between cousins. Newly weds are free to set up their own establishment. In modern families, the family members consult elders about important decisions, but the father no longer has the final say in regard to his adult children's lives.The role of women is also changing fast and they qualify and seek jobs instead of just being a child bearing machine. Family is very important.But the role that family is playing is an evolving one, with some young adults breaking off from their culture and starting their own traditions. Modern Chinese couples choose their own partners, but many still ask for their elders' approval.

    “As in many Asian cultures, the elders of the family are revered for their wisdom. . Even in modern households, many grandparents live with their children and their kids. They typically play a large role in the raising of their grandchildren.”

    The one child policy led to female infanticide.The policy has been scrapped in 2016 in view of the increasing percentage of ageing population.There is transformation in all aspects due to ageing population,low birthrate and mobility of the population. The type of family support which was the bulwark of the joint family system is on its way out.The dynamics of relationship between members of the family is also undergoing a sea change largely due to western influence.Every one has to fend for himself resulting in economic and social disparities between the members of a family.Dil is a free person to pursue her interests though stealthy attempts are made here and there to prolong the system of domination of parents.

    PS-I don’t know how many of you remember Pearl.S.Buck an admirer of Chinese culture and her novel Good Earth.

    Feel free to correct factual errors if any as blogs by individuals have provided information.

    Ref-Several blogs and comments on blogs by Chinese women as well as women from other countries married to Chinese men.Thora needs special mention for giving a complete picture.Ivan Verr –[Relationship and Marriage advisor] Zhan Hu & Xize[journal of Chinese sociology -2015
     
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  2. hermitcrab

    hermitcrab Platinum IL'ite

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    MAny things are similar to traditional Indian families.

    But a bit sexist. Patriarchal societies have to be. Opening a Pandora box here!
     
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  3. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Thanks.We are much better off in India.Being the eldest in the family I got five of my sisters,two daughters and 2 of my nieces married apart from 4 brothers. But for some minor show off problems during the marriage they are all doing well.One interesting aspect in the marriages is that we did not want to know even what items the girls side were giving and we refused to accept cash even for dress.The benchmark was set during my marriage,when I had the privilege of sharing the marriage expenses.As for the marriages of girls we refused to give dowry.All the brothers except one have girls and we are proud of them.The difference between boys and girls is glaring particularly when one becomes old..The partiality among Dils were in respect of their housekeeping,culinary skills and awareness of rituals and procedures particularly in orthodox families.Everything is not hunky-dory but certainly manageable.
    Domination runs in the chinese blood.I understand victim Dils are trained to become tough Mils.One lady in a blog called her MIL as Monster in law.There are quite a few things I avoided mentioning keeping the mixed audience in mind.To sum up family life in India is much more understanding and accomodative and relationship is turning friendly.
    Regards.SLN
     
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  4. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    A great essay.Not only marriage system, position of Daughter-in-law,the relationship between MIL-DIL ,even the parenting system is unique.
    They want to create a sense of superiority from the beginning.Even educated Chinese mothers give lot of importance to'efforts-efforts and efforts till they achieve the target.They don't mind giving the toughest punishment like starving, not allowing the child to attend to nature's call etc etc.to have 'any how achieve'
    Though their idea of emphasis on efforts is good, it is rather authoritative than authoritarian.
    Slowly seeing Indian mothers they try to check themselves, yet cannot come out of their hidden nature.
    But Chinese women are born to achieve and they leave no efforts to prove the same.
    I think I have deviated from the subject.

    Jayasala 42
     
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  5. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Jayasala.
    Thanks for you comments.The information available is voluminous and both relevant and irrelevant.It took me four days to pour through the material.separate wheat from the chaff and present only such materiel keeping the sensitivities in mind. A thought that bothers me is the astounding economic progress they have made.While you may ascribe a portion to their autocratic style it is their hard work,family effort and the determination to dominate which have contributed to their success.Women have been ruthless in driving everybody to contribute.Because the girls contribution goes to the other family,boys are preferred to augment the income.It is sheer return on investment.
    We are no where near them with regard to respect of elders,their participation in decision making,their role in bringing up grand children etc.Chinese are also known for their wise quotes.AN example- "with patience mulberry leaves are turned into silk".Time permitting I shall compile such wise statements and present them in IL.
    Regards.SLN.
     
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  6. jayasala42

    jayasala42 Finest Post Winner

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    I was in Singapore for one year.I have closely watched Chinese mothers. Very laudable indeed. Sometimes we feel it is torturous.Physical exercises also they give lot-lot of stress.
    As long as the result is good, we may not go much into their way.

    Now a days US settled chinese behave differently, more like Indian mothers giving lot of space and independence to kids.
    jayasala 42
     
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  7. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    :hello:Interesting and a holistic research and compilation for best conclusions on Chinese wedding aftermath.
    I read pearl s buck. I think she had settled already in US before began writing.
    One passage comes to mind that I read long ago probably in 1960s from one of her popular novel is
    “ to night I must ask him to take a concubine”.
    Irrespective of geography, MILs of yore were not different.
    Thanks and Regards.
     
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  8. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    I also had an opportunity to move with a chinese officer of a bank for a few days in Hongkong.What appealed to me was his hard work,simplicity and dignity of labour.He told me that if he returned home earlier his wife would enquire whether every thing was O.K.Their handling of Dils however is by any yardstick is abhorrent.
    SLN
     
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  9. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Thygarajan,
    Good Earth left a lasting impression in my young mind.Having a concubine is an accepted fact and a status symbol in China.Chaps who eat Pangolin,dogs and cats can do anything.God knows what ingredients form part of the menu in chinese restaurants.Regards.SLN
     
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