04/05/2005 00:00 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Vietnamese family - Yesterday and Today

The family constitutes the central cell of the society and a foundation for the cohesion of the community. Enhancing the rich values of the fine traditions of the Oriental culture in its conception of the family and cultivating civilized families is turning into an extensive movement in the Vietnamese society of today. nbsp; nbsp;

Tư liệu
A 4-generation family
(a French engraving).

Hoang Quoc Tuan
A new joy. nbsp;

Tư liệu
Family, a boundless inspiration for writers, poets, musicians,
painters and especially photographers. Many photographs of the family won awards at
international and domestic photo contests, including this one
Photo: Rhythm of Happiness - Gold
Medal-Australia-2001.

The family constitutes the central cell of the society and a foundation for the cohesion of the community. Enhancing the rich values of the fine traditions of the Oriental culture in its conception of the family and cultivating "civilized families" is turning into an extensive movement in the Vietnamese society of today.nbsp;

The Vietnamese Family of Yesterday

The Vietnamese family has taken its roots from a homogeneous agricultural society. Its most general characteristic lies in its formation in the cultivation of wet rice, hence the settlement into communities of blood relationship. All Vietnamese families are linked together and closely attached to their relatives, their hamlets and villages, their native soils and homeland, even though they have long lived and worked far from home in the urban areas.nbsp;

The Vietnamese family is well associated with the structure of "Nha - Lang - Nuoc" (Home - Village - Nation). It is this tripod relationship that has formed the philosophy of life, the marvelous communal attachment as an eternal glue, the characteristic and the age-old forte in the face of the devastation caused by the natural catastrophes and the enemy-inflicted destruction. All this will forever generate the might of the community of the Vietnamese nation today and tomorrow. It is also for this reason that the Vietnamese, be they at home or working overseas, irrespective of their religions, beliefs and ideologies, rich or poor, belonging in any social stratum, are always on tenterhooks, anxiously turning their thoughts to their families and relatives, their ancestors and their homeland. The fine practice of worshipping the ancestors has helped preserve the sustainability of the traditional Vietnamese family, with an original cultural identity, and the sacred cohesion of the family and the community. nbsp;

The relationship in the family enshrines emotional ties. The ethics of man embracing the filial piety to the grandparents and parents complies not only with the human heart but with the way of the world as well. The parents loving the children, the brothers and sisters loving each other also comply with the way of the world, from whence ethics has been elaborated, thus raising emotional ties into behavioral norms and code of conduct for all people, and therefore the relationship between the members in the family and society bears fine and civil expressions. This sentiment helps make the family atmosphere cozy and fortifies the kids' confidence, and as a result they live with self-respect and a sense of responsibility to the family. Vietnam and the other East Asian countries have been profoundly imbued with Confucian ethics: all should keep courteousness and civility and observe the principle of " tam cuong, ngu thuong " (three orders and five virtues).nbsp; The "tam cuong" includes the three feudal orders, an essential conduct in the feudal society: king and subject, father and son, husband and wife. The "ngu thuong" embraces the five virtues of the feudal ethics, namelynbsp; "nhan, nghia, le, tri, tin " (benevolence, righteousness, civility, knowledge and loyalty). The former indicates the social order, closely associated with the latter as the five fundamental virtues of the ethics of man, in the five pivotal relationships: king and subject, father and son, brother and sister, husband and wife, and friend to friend (also popularly known as "ngu luan"). Formerly the Oriental ethics took, as its foundation, consensus, respect for the old and concession to the young, harmony in the family, and in a broader sense, it is the foundation for the construction of a society of peace and order, unity and stability.

In the traditional family, the members live in a strict order, a tie that binds them together but to some extent restricts their personality and liberty as well as personal independence, equality and democracy..., in which the individual finds it easy to be pleased with the cozy nest, with little interest to travel far from home and engage in adventures and interactions, and little eagerness for progress and development.

The Vietnamese hold in high regard the worshipping of their ancestors on a family altar. Those who die with no altar for their worshipping will be seen as heirless. In the Vietnamese mind, this is the awareness of continuity. Likewise, a people and nation, just like a family, should live for good with time. The Vietnamese never live for themselvesnbsp; nor for the present, but for their children and their descendants and for the future of the nation. It is the Vietnamese conception, mentality and culture.nbsp;

The Vietnamese Family of Today

Leading a new life in peace, national industrialization-modernization, and international integration, the Vietnamese make every effort to preserve and enhance the fine cultural values of the traditional family. Besides the extended (multi-generation) family, with grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren sharing the same roof, the nuclear family (consisting of only parents and children) accounts for larger numbers. The structure of the family is smaller and more dynamic, with equality between males and females, good education for the young and efficient primary healthcare. We have early realized the downsides of the market mechanism may deteriorate and degenerate the social morality and the family virtues. For this very reason, it is a "must" to attach great importance to protecting and enhancing the fine traditions of the family morality and culture, boosting the education in the sense of responsibility for the family, and the formation of the lifestyle, personality and the firm stuff of the Vietnamese family. In its official documents, the State of Vietnam has defined in clear terms: "It is necessary to raise the responsibility of the family for the education and cultivation of its members in civilized lifestyle, so that the family really becomes a cozy nest for all its members, and a healthy cell of society."

Yet, the seamy sides of the market mechanism are, in fact, somewhat changing and weakening the cohesion of the family. The ties between the members of the family tend to get loose. In many instances, family members' only chance to meet in the day is briefly at dinnertime, hence have little chance to exchange opinions on the children's schooling. And in some other families, the disruption of sentiments between parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, because of money, is looming larger on the horizon. The kids of some powerful civil servants and wealthy merchants are indulged in depravation, disregarding law and order. Divorce, gambling, drug-abuse ... seemingly on the rise, is a real concern.

For many years now, Vietnam has launched a nationwide movement for "Civilized Families" and "National unity for the cultivation of civilized life in residential quarters". This is aimed at forming families with a civilized lifestyle, keeping good relations between the family and the community, between the family and the natural environment, and enhancing a civil awareness of observance of law and order.

nbsp;The State of Vietnam has promulgated legislation on fortification and amelioration of the family, i.e. the Land Law, Law on Marriage and the Family, Law on Inheritance, and others. It also launched family-related policies on population, tuition fees and scholarships, hospital charges, female employees and workers, the ethnic groups, war veterans, families of war martyrs, housing, the elderly, families with scarce labour power or in unfortunate circumstances.

The Vietnamese people who have always held the family in high regard will carefully preserve the identity of national culture, moderate and creatively absorb the spiritual quintessence of the wisdom of humankind, with a view to building civilized, happy and progressive families.nbsp;

Tư liệu
Le Do Ngoc - Head of Family Department,nbsp;Committee for Population, Family and Children Affairs: Since time immemorial, the Vietnamese people, with a wet rice civilization, have regarded family as the root unit. Their sentiment and psychology have closely and firmly attached to the family.

In the current trend of international exchanges and integration, the Vietnamese family has remarkably changed to conform to the development of the new era. The equal and democratic relationship within the family is the major feature of the modern family culture. Individual freedom is developed and legitimate privacy of each individual is respected. Parents pay more respect and attention to their children's opinions and aspirations. Each member of the family is encouraged to develop independence and creativeness. Above all, the fine traditional values of Vietnamese family have been held in high regard. We pay much respect for families that still maintain family traditions and order in the hasty rhythm of modern life. Many families still maintain the models "three generations co-existing" and, "four generations under the same roof", in which all members live in peace, respect the older members, love and care for one another and attach much importance to marital relations.

The harmonious combination of modern and traditional values will strengthen Vietnamese family and people in the 21st century, laying firm foundations for the long-term stability and development of the nation.

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Nguyen Thi Lien and
her brother Nguyen
Anh Tuan.

Nguyen Thi Lien, 88 years old,nbsp;Hanoi Sanitarium for the Aged People: My husband died and then my mother passed away, leaving me alone with a great sorrow. The sadness grew day by day when I felt that I did not have a happy family like the others. Whenever I saw the families and their friends at my neighbourhood gathering happily together, I thirsted for such a happy home. I can not have the warm feelings of a mother for her children, of a grandmother for her grandchildren, and vice versa, which is a moral support for each person in his/her life, especially at his/her old age like me. Fortunately, since I have lived in this centre together with many other elderly people in the same situation, my grief somehow lessens and I no longer have the feeling of loneliness.

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Kieu Quy Cong and
his adopted mother
and sisters.

Kieu Qui Cong, 21 years old,nbsp;at the Hanoi SOS Children Village: I have been an orphan since I was only three years old. At seven, I was brought to the SOS Children Village, brought up and educated. This kind of village is especially for orphans and disadvantaged children like me. Fourteen years have passed by so fast. Now I am a 4-year student of the Construction Economics Faculty, Hanoi University of Transportation and Communication. At the SOS Children Village, there are many houses and each is undertaken by a "mother". At first, I pronounced the word "mother" with a lot of embarrassment, but later it was so warm to me. I love my family a lot. Nobody in my class at the university is an orphan like me. Sometimes, I feel self-pity when seeing my friends coming to their happy homes after class. But that feeling melts when I think of my happy family at the SOS Children Village. When getting married I will try my best to build a happy family life for my children, a life with both a mother and a father.nbsp;


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Through a survey held in Hanoi:

- In urban areas: 60-70% of families with two generations, over 30% with three generations. In suburban areas: 40-52% with three generations.

- 90% of the interviewees support traditional cultural values including family living in peace, people living with a moral life and children succeeding in life.

- 75% want their children to have university diplomas, with engineers (51.9%), State employees (41.4%), doctors and teachers (28.7%).

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Bài: Gs.Ts Story: Prof. Dr. Phan Khanh

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