The families are usually approached as the cells of the communities and are examined as the basis for the organization of the social life and co-existence of the individuals. The rules and atmosphere that prevails within the family definitely affects the society and its progress. On the other hand, social rules and stereotypes as well as the set of the external factors also affect to certain extent the family matters. Such a connection will be discussed within this paper in relation to the Chinese society and its preferences. Apart from that, the paper will also focus on the role the family plays within the society; the socialization of the children as well as on the key challenges and strengths of the average Chinese family.
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Historical and Cultural Background
China is one of the most ancient civilizations in the world with its established culture and worldview. Its history dates back to more than 10,000 years. The latest 5,000 China has been known as an empire that has experienced the periods of political unity and disunity and has been conquered by external tribes.
At heart of the Chinese lifestyle is the Confucian philosophy that let the residents of this region live in relative piece for hundreds of years. This philosophy has also been absorbed into the common culture of Chinese people. For them it is natural to respect the elders and other forms of authority. Chinese people prefer collectivism over individualism and clear instructions over independence. The collectivism is at heart of the official doctrine. Under the conditions of the planned economy and strong and centralized government, this country has experienced rapid economic growth that has a great impact on the family-related issues.
Household Size and Composition
Traditionally, Chinese families lived together under one roof. Today, the number of the nuclear families is increasing. At the moment, the number equals to 60% and it is expected to grow in the future. The majority of the families consist of three or four members. The researches suggest that the popular American values are less treasured in China. For them, it is important to find the loyal and loving spouse that to have an increased income or procreation. At the same time, it should be stressed that the number of the family members has, indeed, fell down. In 1950s an average family consisted of the 5 or more members. Today this number is three only. The one-child policy has also prevented many families from rapid extension.
Socialization of Children
As to the socialization of the children in China, there are many specific approaches. First of all, Chinese parents put a lot of pressure on their children for them to reach the perfectionism. In terns of the 100 points system, the parents will blame children for not getting the last one or two points of the grade. In other words, they focus on the failure, not the success. The Confucian tradition also provides that the Chinese parents should teach their children to work hard and to respect the authority. The latter are considered as the keys to the success in life.
In addition, China is frequently rated among the countries with the highest levels of the public respect. The teaching role in China is highly respected by every member f the society. In China parents usually take the sides of the teachers than their children. At the same time, it should be stressed that Chinese parents are not inclined to develop the feeling of confidence and independent mindset of their children. The answers in Chinese societies are spoon fed to the children on the contrary to the American society where entrepreneurial spirit is highly encouraged and treasured.
Chinese children are also frequently assigned to more homework compared to their American peers. They still have to attend schools that deprive them of their time and lives little room for the extra curriculum activities. These children usually have less time to think about things, create and imagine. Finally, a lot of Chinese children experience enormous stress since they have to meet to many expectations of their parents, teachers, community etc. The education in this country is believed to play the key role in the economic development. Therefore, the educational and socialization issues are treasured with extreme seriousness and attention.
Work Relations and the Family
The distribution of the duties within the family in China is still greatly affected by the culture. The same applies also to the work-life balances and duties regarding the educating of the child. The fathers are still considered as the family providers and maintainers. They usually have the final word in the most of the family matters and they are responsible for bringing income to the houses. At the same time, due to the relative emancipation of the women this duty is nowadays equally distributed between the spouses. The children in Chinese families are mostly free to choose their career and life paths; however, they are recommended to, at least, consult with elders regarding the decisions they are going to make.
The father is also responsible for the education of the children up until their marriages. As soon as they get married, they leave father’s house and create their own family rules. However, in the view of the rapid industrialization of China, it should be stressed that many children are left unattended by their parents due to the increased workload and hours spent at work. Such a tendency is, in fact, unusual for the Chinese society where the family has been traditionally valued above all. More than that, due to the one-child policy as well as to the overall globalization trends and extended work duties the families in China try to postpone the bearing of the children. Due to the lack of time, children are frequently left at the day care centers. The families might even sometimes split due to the distances that the parents have to go to reach their work. As a result, the family members might see each other extremely rarely. Still, it should be stressed that the most of the families are strong and stable despite all the challenges that they have to experience nowadays.
Strengths of Chinese Families
In general, Chinese culture is usually perceived as the collective one. Therefore, it makes a strong emphasis on the family issues and support. Traditionally, Chinese family has been represented as the classic three-generations households. This tendency is, however, no longer applicable in the Chinese society that is based largely on the nuclear families that consist only of one member. At the same time, despite these changes in the composition, the family still remains to be the most important pillar in the society structure. Families are still treasured by the young generations that respect the opinions elders and tend to consult with the latter in relation to the life choices and decisions. Intergenerational relations are not underestimated or undervalued within this society. The care of elders and children is still treated as one of the main duty. Therefore, the first strength of a family in Chinese society actually refers to the importance it has in the Chinese culture.
At the same time, it has to be stressed that there are few studies that actually aim to identify the strengths of the Chinese families. In the 1996 the first study regarding the strengths of the family in China has been carried out (DeFrain & Asay, 2007). The findings showed that Chinese family members benefit from the loyalty, strong family support, time spent together as well as a sense of harmony that is created due to the presence of the connection among the generation. A strong family with deep roots and awareness of the family genealogy actually serves as the solid foundation for the society. These connections help to transcend the wise ideas and concepts learned during the lives of the predecessors. However, such strengths of the Chinese families are still attributed to the collectivism that prevails in Chinese culture.
Challenges in Chinese Families
The recent reports state that the Chinese families today face a lot more challenges than the previous generations. Key challenges are associated with the rural families and migrant workers families that move to the urban areas.
From the global perspective, these families are left alone with their problems since currently the government has no capacity and administrative resources to introduce the changes in the society. The possible solution of the problem might provide for the reinforcement of the family support in the Chinese society. The economic and industrial growth of China, unfortunately, has not been reflected in the welfare state policies that will ensure that the families are provided with the basic support.
Other challenges that are experienced by the Chinese families refer to the marital status. The men in rural areas in China are less likely to get married compared women. Additionally, the attitude towards the old rules starts to change. There is an increased number f the children and elders left without the appropriate kevel of support and care.
More than that, the number of the nuclear families within Chinese society tends to increase. It is mainly attributed to the young single women who live in the urban areas. Usually, they have higher education degree and the sufficient means for living, which makes them, postpone the family planning practices and marrying. At the same time, the men in the rural areas tend to marry younger women due to the shortage of the women of the similar age within their communities as many indeed leave the rural residencies in the seeking of the better life opportunities. As a result, many families experience significant age gaps that might result in the unexpected consequences within Chinese society.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that the family has traditionally played an important role in Chinese culture. Grown up in accordance with the Confucian tradition, the children respect their parents and teach their children to respect elders too. However, the industrialization of China has led to the changes in this sphere too. For example, the composition of the family has narrowed down to three members. The working parents have less time to take care of their children or parents. While educating their children, families stress on the collectivism, hard work and respect towards others. The key strengths of Chinese families refer to their coherence and connections among the generations. At the same time, many Chinese families experience the challenges related to the life in the urban areas. Considering this, the government is recommended to introduce more effective methods of supporting the migrant families who have moved to the urban areas in the search of the better employment or educational opportunities.
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