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Nations & Customs
Traditional Values

Traditional Values

Family life has always been extremely important to Chinese culture as Chinese lived in large family units. As many as 100 or more relatives lived together under the rule of the oldest male. The ideal was "five generations under one roof." However, those who lived this way were mainly families of rich rural landowners, wealthy merchants, and government officials. Among the common people, most households consisted of only parents and children, but some also included grandparents and uncles.

Chinese families traditionally valued sons far more than daughters. A husband could divorce his wife if she failed to give birth to sons. In some cases, daughters were killed at birth because they were considered useless, for females could not continue the family name. Only men were expected to work outside the home as wives stayed home to do housework, cook, and attend to the children.

Relationships within families were extremely formal in Traditional China. Family honor was emphasized greatly as members of the family, especially of the younger generation, were expected to "know their place" in society and to give the family name a good reputation. Parents also expected their children to show unquestioning obedience. A father could legally kill his children if they disobeyed him. Marriages were arranged by parents, much of which were decided when the children were infants. Most brides and grooms did not see or know each other until the wedding day.

 
   
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