in the Eyes of Englishmen and American
III. Types of families
Extended family ------
three or more generations
Nuclear family ------ Two generations (parents + children)
the parent (married, unmarried, widowed,
Single-parent family ---- divorced) lives with his/her biological or
adopted child
Blended family ------ remarried couple and their children (adopted)
Dink family ------
married, dual income, no kids
Live-in couples ------ heterosexual or homosexual with or without
child, unmarried but have a binding relationship
III. The Change of Family Mode
Extended family
a. Late marriage, late
b. Higher divorce rate
Nuclear family
c. More emphasis on
individual achievement
d. feminism
Single-parent family; single-person
household; blended family
Family in the Eyes of Different People
To the Westerners:
1. Family is more important than work. When work and
family are in serious conflict, family is always the
first priority.
2. They pay attention to psychological
like love and togetherness.
3. There is more independence of each family member.
4. The main duty of every family member is not to
advance the family as a group socially or economically,
nor to bring honor to the family name. They just pursue
individual fulfillment.
Family in the Eyes of Different People
To Chinese:
1. They emphasize the filial duty (children owe to their
parents) and the responsibility (parents owe to their
2. They emphasize the peace and harmony of a family.
3. Every family member has the duty to advance the
family as a group socially or economically, and to
bring honor to the family name as well.
American views of
• Most Americans explain
marriage choices in terms of
• Romantic view of marriage
• When married couples no
longer feel this romantic love,
it is relatively easy for the
partners to come to the
conclusion that they should
separate and find someone
else who they really do love.
Chinese views of
• Chinese view ganqing
(affection) as something that
evolve and grows over time.
Ganqing can be cultivated and
nurtured in a relational context
by means of mutual aid and
mutual care.
• To a couple, love is often one
among other considerations,
such as obligations to the
parents and family.
Related Information
In the West:
In the past, people got married and stayed married.
Divorce was very difficult, expensive and took a long
time. People married before they had children. Fifty
years ago, it was socially unacceptable if one kept being
single. Before 1960 cohabiting was very unusual.
In China:
Cohabiting, divorce, unmarried birth were morally
The changing aspects of marriage
“Trial” marriage
The increase in one-parent family
The increase in divorce
I. Related Information
Divorce in the US
The high divorce rate in the US is certainly
related to American individualism. Americans tend
to feel that most relationships are largely voluntary,
in other words, that people can choose whether or
not to stay in them. Thus, many Americans tend to
feel a marriage relationship should be based on
the free choice of both partners rather than on
obligation. If one or both of the partners in a
marriage no longer feels his/her needs are being
met, and no longer wants to continue in the
relationship, most Americans tend to feel the
couple should be free to end it — even if that
means breaking up a family, with the resulting
negative consequences for children.
Divorce in the US
They believe that unhappy couples should not stay
married just because they have children at home. Many
people do not believe in sacrificing individual happiness
for the sake of the children. They say that children
actually may be better off living with one parent that with
two who are constantly arguing. Divorce is now so
common that it is no longer socially unacceptable, and
children are not embarrassed to say that their parents
are divorced.
Divorce in the US
However, it would be too simple to explain the high
US divorce rate by saying that Americans don't consider
the marriage relationship important enough. In one way,
part of the problem is also that Americans tend to view
marriage as being too important—or have expectations
for marriage that arc too high. Most Americans believe
that marriage should be based on love the romantic love
of finding "Mr. Right" or "Miss Right" —and they expect a
lot from that partner. In marriage they expect to find
romance, understanding, support, sharing, trust, and a
place where they can "be themselves," — i.e. act the
way they feel like acting. In one way, these high
expectations are a problem—they are no doubt one
important reason why many Americans become
dissatisfied with their marriage partners and decide to
divorce. However, they also suggest that Americans feel
marriage is a very important part of one's life.
Many children in the United States move away
from their parents at age of 18 or 19. What’s your
interpretation of such a phenomena?
I. Related Information
This is a typical western phenomena. The American
children are nurtured to be independent to do whatever he
could do ever since he/she was born. Children at age of 18
or 19 are toward their adulthood, it is naturally old enough
to leave their parents and start a new independent life .
However, in the eyes of some traditional Chinese people,
children should live with their parents until they get
married. So, they misunderstand that the American
children leaving their parents at age of 18 or 19 is due to
their parents’ irresponsibility or lack of love for their
I. Related Information
In the US
Children think of parents as good friends. On the
other hand, many Americans give their young people a lot
of freedom because they want to teach their children to be
independent and self-reliant. American children have
been expected to leave the nest at age of 18 after they
graduate from high school. They are expected to go on to
college or get a job to support themselves. By their midtwenties, if children are still living with their parents,
some people will suspect that something is wrong.
I. Related Information
In China
In many other cultures, including our Chinese one,
inequality extends into the family, particularly to
the father’s relationship to his children. The father
is accepted as ruler and master. The children’s
relations with him are very formal and love for
him is always combined with fear.
Where are her children?
• Imagine that you are reading the newspaper and see a
story about an American woman in California who was
once middle class but is now homeless. The woman’s
condition resulted from a bad divorce, investments that
went bad, and inability to find a job. She received no
help from her children, even though they knew about
her situation and were not poor themselves.
• What possible reasons can you think of for why the
woman’s children would not help her? Try to list several.
Possible explanations:
1. In individualist cultures like that of the US,
children are alienated from parents because
parents chain them to be independent, “push
them out of the nest”.
2. Because of the cultural emphasis on selfreliance, the mother feels it is inappropriate to
ask for help, and the children may even think it
is inappropriate to offer.
3. Individualism leads people to feel they should
stay out of each other’s business.