By: Hoang Nguyen
By been born in Vietnam, luckily that I had a chance to experience some of the rich traditions of Vietnam. Every family has its own cultures, tradition and beliefs. The Vietnamese traditional is somehow based on the value of relationships among family members. Relationships in Vietnamese family are more complicated than those of Western countries. The majority of families in Vietnam are extended families as many generations co-live to take care of each other. Family in Vietnam looks similar to a system of mini society with the most elderly having the strongest voice and taking charge of most activities in house.
Traditional values of Vietnamese lifestyle were deeply affected by Confucian ethics. During thousand years under the invasion and domination by Chinese, Vietnamese culture was also permeated by their Confucian philosophical beliefs. It was believed that “in order to achieve human perfection, one must follow the established codes of behavior which include reverence for ancestors and respect for elders…The importance is not upon the individual’s accomplishments but upon his duty to family and society”
For centuries in Vietnam, traditional family values were accomplished by the fulfillment of traditional roles – the role of man and woman as parents. Since the highest status in Vietnamese families is given to the man or the father, he had absolute authority in the household. As he provided the main source of income, he was never expected to work in the kitchen or to cook. After work, he returned home and relaxed. As a head of household, he had the final decision in all matters. The father, however, had the duty to exercise restraint and wisdom in running his family in order to deserve his respected position.
Having a boy in family was a “must” because the eldest son would assume the duties of his father when he died. A family which had no son to continue the process was superstitiously thought to have disappeared forever.
Boys and girls are not free to do what they want. Yet, girls are under strict supervision. Western style courtship and romance were seen as inappropriate things for unmarried children. As virginity is cherished, pregnancy out of wedlock is a grave disgrace to the family. For their children’s marriage, parents generally made decision because they could judge better.
Vietnamese placed a higher value on education rather than on material success. That the reason why parents encouraged their children to study and excel in their education. Vietnamese parents had a high regard for it which was considered as a way for family advancement.
Keep in mind that we are purposefully generalizing about cultural values here, and that individuals may deviate from these cultural norms for many reasons. The degree to which US cultural values have been adopted has a dramatic impact on whether these values and any associated behaviors apply to a given individual.
Asians tend to be highly group-oriented people who place a strong emphasis on family connection as the major source of identity and protection against the hardships of life. The family model is an extended one including immediate family and relatives, and loyalty to the family is expected. Thus, independent behavior that may disrupt the harmony of the family is highly discouraged. One must never bring dishonor or disgrace to one’s self or the family. In the traditional Asian family, parents define the law and the children are expected to abide by their requests and demands; filial piety or respect for one’s parents and elders is critically important. In the most traditional of families this manifests in rules of conduct such as: only speak when spoken to, speak only if one has something important to say. Self-control is expected and individuals should demonstrate inner stamina and strength to tolerate crisis. In healthcare settings, Asians may be unwilling to acknowledge strong emotion, grief, or pain due to their family and cultural values. Western medical professionals often find the stoic demeanors of Asian people difficult to interpret.
Moving onto the conclusion, a cross-cultural mindset requires understanding one’s own health beliefs and behaviors first and then applying that baseline of understanding as a means of making effective comparisons across cultures. Clinicians can learn more about specific cultures by using published references, consulting colleagues from other ethnic groups, and speaking to interpreters and community members. Learning to ask patients questions in a culturally sensitive way is also a crucial tool for gaining knowledge. Finally, individuals subscribe to group norms to varying degrees. Factors such as socio-economics, education, degree of acculturation and English proficiency have an enormous impact on an individual’s health beliefs and behaviors. So does religion. All these factors challenge one’s ability to understand and treat patients in cross-cultural settings, but meeting those challenges can be vital in reducing health disparities for Asian people in the U.S.
Overall of this assignment, it reflects a lot on my good memory because I have to go back to the past so that I can be able to pick is tradition out of all others. My understanding of the family meals tradition changed a lot over time. At first, I just think it’s a waste and lack out of freedom because people have to spend some amount of time for it and cannot eat whenever they want. Growing up more, I think that eating family meals together typically results in positive benefits for family members. Benefits can include increases in educational, health, social, and behavioral skills. In addition, participating in family meals can increase positive family interactions and overall family well-being. I think that in the future, no matter what will happen, I will keep this tradition on going because it helps building the relationship in family. No matter how being busy people are around their life, when it comes to the family time, it becomes a time to relax, share, and discuss the problems that might have. Family meal with traditional Vietnamese food is significant to Vietnamese people, which do appreciate the period of family union. To conclude, with family ties getting closer and closer, values of family relationships in Vietnam would certainly survive through time and change.
Moving to the end of this term, I think the course really got me thinking about how my life and views are affected by popular culture. And now, I don’t just look at the advertisements like a scam through but deeply looking at it on several angles. It’s really a great experience and my pleasure of having the course this term.
Thank you all,
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