Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, December 28, 2012

Indian families are different

The TV characters Ozzie and Harriet were a national archetype in the 1950s. Since then, it has been undermined by feminism and by immigrant family values.

A NY Times article on India soap operas explains some of the family differences:
The extended family is still the bedrock of Indian society, ...

That may be a fantasy, but matriarchal interference (call it guidance) is marriage Indian-style. When Indian women discuss the need to “adjust” to matrimony, they don’t just mean adapting to a new husband. They mean moving in with his parents, grandparents and siblings, a custom that is still the norm, even in prosperous families. ...

Male children are favored in Indian society, and wives join the husband’s family at the low end of the pecking order, often relegated to kitchen drudge work while the mother-in-law rules over the grandchildren. “We live with our parents until we are married, then we live with someone else’s parents,” Ms. Kapoor said. “There is pressure to give everything to the son. It’s a source of conflict in so many homes.” (Ms. Kapoor, the daughter of well-known actors, is single and owns her own house but lives with her parents in their home anyway.) ...
I post this because Eagle Forum promotes family values, but the term is widely misunderstood. Indians have very strong family structures, but they are very different from the traditional American nuclear family.

Chinese families are different also, as the BBC reports:
China has passed a law requiring adult children to visit their elderly parents regularly or risk being sued.
Chinese Confucianism has always had great reverence for parents:
In the "Hiao-king", Confucius is recorded as saying: "Filial piety is the root of all virtue." - "Of all the actions of man there are none greater than those of filial piety." To the Chinese, filial piety prompts sons to love and respect their parents, contribute to their comfort and bring happiness and honor to their name by honorable success in life. Filial piety included the obligation of sons to live after marriage under the same roof with the father and to give him obedience as long as he lived. The will of the parents was declared to be supreme even to the extent that if the son's wife failed to please them he was obliged to divorce her. If a dutiful son found himself compelled to scold a wayward father he was taught to give the correction with the utmost meekness. The father does not forfeit his right to filial respect, no matter how great his wickedness.
Sometimes Republican strategists argue that Asian-Americans should be natural Republicans because of their strong families. In some ways Indian families are stronger, as they still have arranged marriages for underage girls. But Asians mostly voted for Barack Obama. One theory says that it is the nuclear families that are more likely to vote conservative.

Update: A NY Times editorial says:
More broadly, India must work on changing a culture in which women are routinely devalued. Many are betrothed against their will as child brides, and many suffer cruelly, including acid attacks and burning, at the hands of husbands and family members.

India, a rising economic power and the world’s largest democracy, can never reach its full potential if half its population lives in fear of unspeakable violence.
So while the above NY Times article gives the impression that elderly family matriarchs commonly interfere with marriages, the younger women are not necessarily treated well.

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