Thai family structure

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Thai family structure
Thu 14 Jan, 2010 11:22 am

This is one of the many things I admire and respect about Thai people. The way they view and treat the family unit. Last night, Kim and myself were out drinking Thai whiskey at one of those stalls again (hence why I'm posting so much this morning -- only slept a few hours, still drunk, and can't work until I have a nap). We ended up chatting about family structure, and he was basically appauled to the Canadian approach.

I explained to him that not always, but in general, if your parents own a company, it's THEIR company. And alot of times when the parents get older, they'll sell the company, and use the money for their retirement to buy a nice house, go on holidays, etc. At the same time, as children, we're not expected to help our parents in any shape or form. Once we're adults, we're on our own, and nobody helps each other.

Kim was actually quite disgusted when I explained this to him, and didn't really seem to understand why family would treat each other like that. And honestly, I have to agree with him. It is pretty disgusting. You know, when Kim explains what his family has, he always says "WE" have. He never says "mama" has, or "papa" has, etc. It's always WE have a rice farm, and WE have 40 chickens, and WE have 7 buffalo, and WE have a small convenience store, etc. It's not mama or papa's company, but the families. When the parents get older, Kim and his siblings will naturally take over, and some of the profits will flow to mama and papa to take of them during their older years.

I honestly very much admire that, and wish it was more like that in the West. I know it's like that in Issan because it's far more poor, and is moreless a means of survival, but nonetheless, I like how they take care of each other like that.

Thoughts? Stories? Ok, I'll shut up now, and go sleep.
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cdnmatt
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Re: Thai family structure
Thu 14 Jan, 2010 12:05 pm

cdnmatt wrote:I explained to him that not always, but in general, if your parents own a company, it's THEIR company. And alot of times when the parents get older, they'll sell the company, and use the money for their retirement to buy a nice house, go on holidays, etc. At the same time, as children, we're not expected to help our parents in any shape or form. Once we're adults, we're on our own, and nobody helps each other.


With the exception of the nobody helps each other part, you are bang on with this one.......and I like it that way.
I’m guessing Thailand wouldn’t have as many nursing / retirement homes….unless you consider Thailand itself as one great big one.
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Re: Family communism
Thu 14 Jan, 2010 12:29 pm

»Until modern times, kinship meant common economic interests. According to Durkheim (1921), all domestic societies, except the conjugal family are based on "family communism:" Property and other economic resources are shared by the kin group. Family communism no longer works as it once did because of the individualism built into the conjugal family. In traditional society, property dominated personal life. Attachment to the land and family property for its symbolic as well as economic importance took precedence over individual desires :-) and ambitions.«
Mary Ann Lamanna. Emile Durkheim on the Family (2001)

»In traditional societies, the close proximity to kin was considered a valuable feature of one’s home both in terms of physical and economic security. Close proximity to kin was often implemented by the sharing of the same physical compound or the same house by members of the extended family. As societies become economically and socially more diverse, heads of nuclear families within the extended family earn a living in a wider variety of occupations and locations. This process together with changes in the value of privacy, authority and hierarchy within the family, have led to the setting up of independent homes by nuclear and three-generation families thus changing the composition of domestic households everywhere. The average number of persons in domestic households is a good indicator of such a change. Graph 12 illustrates the progressive decline in the average size of domestic households in the ten Asian countries from 1980 to 2000. I include the United Kingdom and the United States as interesting illustrations of the global nature of this change.« http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/family/Publications/mtquah.pdf
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Art
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Re: Thai family structure
Thu 14 Jan, 2010 9:21 pm

cdnmatt wrote:Last night, Kim and myself were out drinking Thai whiskey at one of those stalls again (hence why I'm posting so much this morning -- only slept a few hours, still drunk, and can't work until I have a nap). .


Wow... you make more sense when you're drunk than LMTU when he's sober. :blackeye:

(Sorry... cheap shot, I know... but hard to resist)
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Re: Thai family structure
Thu 14 Jan, 2010 9:48 pm

Beachlover wrote:Wow... you make more sense when you're drunk than LMTU when he's sober. :blackeye:


You think LMTU is ever sober?
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Re: Thai family structure
Thu 14 Jan, 2010 9:56 pm

Interesting observations and thoughts... But I personally don't think there's anything exotically superior about this approach to ownership/wealth in Isaan families.

Asian families simply have a more collective culture than Western families, which are generally (but not always) more individual.

I wouldn't jump to conclusions about this being "better". It sounds sweet and lovely but there are many downsides as well.

* When you share things amongst a family/group individuals get lazy and often don't achieve as much as they could have if they had individual incentive/motivation.

* The culture can lead to the children being less independent and rugged... perhaps not so much in poorer families but certainly in middle-class (doing ok) families.

* Few people have the drive to achieve much if they have this comfortable cacoon around them. It's nice to be looked after... but you really need to be out of your comfort zone (i.e. pretty uncomfortable) to take the risks and sweat it out to your full potential. How many entrepreneurs do you see from dirt poor backgrounds who use that intense discomfort to make massive fortunes... only to raise kids with little business sense and no ability to continue growing the wealth built by their parents?

I grew up in an Asian family. When I was young I was told... oh, if you work hard at school, we'll give you a car... help you buy your own place etc... everything you see around you (the house etc.) will be yours one day... You'll inherit everything.

But growing up in Western culture (with Asian parents), I just thought... no... I'd rather get out there and make these things happen for myself. My parents soon realised I wasn't interested in these things... I just wanted to get out there and making it happen for myself.

I see a lot of Asian families where the kids are showered with stuff... they're at uni driving $40k cars... being given an allowance and all. And I think... none of these kids have any idea what it takes to get out there and earn that kind of money. Some of them end up developing that drive/ability to make it on their own... but many just end up being pretty mediocre. I don't hold it against them and I don't go yelling "spoilt kids"... I just think it's a shame they're never let out of their comfort zone.

As an Asian kid... this collective culture has some personal downsides:

* For poor families... the kids can have an enormous burden getting out there and making money to feed their families... we've all seen this.

* For wealthier families... the "allowance" comes with conditions. You have to do what your (very conservative/traditional) parents tell you... In many cases it makes it difficult to be yourself and make your own decisions... take risks... follow your own passion.

I like the Asian culture of looking after your elders and being responsible for looking after your parents. But don't assume this is nicer than the Western value of self sufficiency.

If you're talking to someone Asian (like your Isaan boy)... it's natural that they be shocked and maybe disgusted by Western family ways. The one thing that really puts them off is often, in the West, they see the elderly being ignored and neglected. Families live far away from their grandparents... often left alone... almost like they're a nuisance (see The Simpsons) In an Asian family... the kids feel a strong sense of responsibility to look after the parents as they get older. When there's only one parent left... they will almost always move in with their children.

I guess just explain the Western ways in a more positive light... point out the flaws (especially the elderly thing)... but I wouldn't jump to conclusions about one being better than the other.
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Re: Thai family structure
Fri 15 Jan, 2010 12:12 am

My Thai boyfriend is baffled by the fact that I've not seen my brother for five years and when my father was alive he couldn't understand why he lived on his own at the age of 90. I've also never met my niece's husband which is beyond his comprehension. But he lives surrounded by his relatives and I don't.

He takes great pride in remembering the names of all my close relatives and is actually more interested in them than I am.

The ironic thing is that although he's part of a family network some of his relatives actually treat him very badly and I'm not that impressed with some of their behaviour.

When we visit any of his family a present is almost always required and he will send presents to my friends, who he's never met, but who I've spoken of.

I don't think anybody can ever understand someone else's family and add the extra complications of cultural differences and it's a mine field.
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Re: Thai family structure
Sat 16 Jan, 2010 11:04 pm

cdnmatt wrote:...not always, but in general, if your parents own a company, it's THEIR company. And alot of times when the parents get older, they'll sell the company, and use the money for their retirement to buy a nice house, go on holidays, etc. At the same time, as children, we're not expected to help our parents in any shape or form. Once we're adults, we're on our own, and nobody helps each other.


How fortunate I am that I was not born a Canadian.
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Re: Thai family structure
Sat 16 Jan, 2010 11:15 pm

Gone Fishing wrote:
cdnmatt wrote:...not always, but in general, if your parents own a company, it's THEIR company. And alot of times when the parents get older, they'll sell the company, and use the money for their retirement to buy a nice house, go on holidays, etc. At the same time, as children, we're not expected to help our parents in any shape or form. Once we're adults, we're on our own, and nobody helps each other.


How fortunate I am that I was not born a Canadian.


How fortunate they are too!
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Brad the Impala
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Re: Thai family structure
Sun 17 Jan, 2010 1:37 am

Gone Fishing wrote:
cdnmatt wrote:...not always, but in general, if your parents own a company, it's THEIR company. And alot of times when the parents get older, they'll sell the company, and use the money for their retirement to buy a nice house, go on holidays, etc. At the same time, as children, we're not expected to help our parents in any shape or form. Once we're adults, we're on our own, and nobody helps each other.


How fortunate I am that I was not born a Canadian.


…….here we go again :duel:

Are you trying to incite something between the different nationalities that make up the membership of this forum?

Why don’t you try just commenting about the post….rather than baiting an argument like this? There were actually a lot of good discussions here while you were away on your mini self imposed exile.

It’s too bad now, after only a few posts that you’re already into this.
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Re: Thai family structure
Sun 17 Jan, 2010 7:45 am

Gone Fishing wrote:
cdnmatt wrote:...not always, but in general, if your parents own a company, it's THEIR company. And alot of times when the parents get older, they'll sell the company, and use the money for their retirement to buy a nice house, go on holidays, etc. At the same time, as children, we're not expected to help our parents in any shape or form. Once we're adults, we're on our own, and nobody helps each other.


How fortunate I am that I was not born a Canadian.


*Slap*
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Re: Thai family structure
Sun 17 Jan, 2010 10:21 am

Gone Fishing wrote:
cdnmatt wrote:...not always, but in general, if your parents own a company, it's THEIR company. And alot of times when the parents get older, they'll sell the company, and use the money for their retirement to buy a nice house, go on holidays, etc. At the same time, as children, we're not expected to help our parents in any shape or form. Once we're adults, we're on our own, and nobody helps each other.


How fortunate I am that I was not born a Canadian.


You're just jealous, because Canadians are better liked around the world than Brits. :P

Not to mention, for a country that isn't even 170 years old yet, I think we've done quite well for ourselves, thank you very much.
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Re: Anti-Canadianism?
Sun 17 Jan, 2010 11:18 am

Voltaire wrote:Déjà les Anglais se mettaient en possession des meilleures terres et des plus avantageusement situées qu'on puisse posséder dans l'Amérique septentrionale au delà de la Floride, quand deux ou trois marchands de Normandie, sur la légère espérance d'un petit commerce de pelleterie, équipèrent quelques vaisseaux, et établirent une colonie dans le Canada, pays couvert de neiges et de glaces huit mois de l'année, habité par des barbares, des ours et des castors. Cette terre, découverte auparavant, dès l'an 1535, avait été abandonnée ; mais enfin, après plusieurs tentatives, mal appuyées par un gouvernement qui n'avait point de marine, une petite compagnie de marchands de Dieppe et Saint-Malo fonda Québec, en 1608, c’est-à-dire bâtit quelques cabanes; et ces cabanes ne sont devenues une ville que sous Louis XIV.

Gone Fishing wrote:How fortunate I am that I was not born a Canadian.

Laconic brevity and politeness are not mutually exclusive. Anti-Canadianism? Not at all.
Что русскому хорошо, то немцу смерть.
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Re: Thai family structure
Sun 17 Jan, 2010 12:44 pm

Beachlover wrote:Asian families simply have a more collective culture than Western families, which are generally (but not always) more individual.
Was that always the case Beachlover or does it reflect that Western families live in societies that have been industrialised far longer, are far more mobile (both socially and geographically) and have robust social security systems? You have only to be in Bangkok around New Year to realise that upwards of half the population go "home" to the village at that time and that, therefore, they are first-generation city dwellers. As well Thailand is one of those countries where there's Bangkok and then there's the rest of the country, unlike a comparably-sized Western country (France, say) that has many, many large urban centres for roughly the same population. I suspect that the OP is under the influence of the idea of the noble savage.
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Re: Thai family structure
Sun 17 Jan, 2010 5:00 pm

let me tell u wrote:Take my advise always look for an Orphan.


So that was what you were doing when you were down on your hands and knees.
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