The human family is a group composed of a woman, her dependent children, and at least one adult male joined through marriage or blood relationship. The family may take many forms, ranging all the way from a single married couple with their children, as in Chinese society, to a large group composed of several brothers and sisters with their children. The particular form taken by the family is related to particular social, historical, and ecological circumstances. The family, long regarded Chinese as a critically necessary, core social institution, today has become a matter for controversy and discussion.
Traditionally, the Chinese family system has operated to bind women to their reproductive function. Until relatively recently, motherhood has been central to our society’s definition of the adult female-the notion that a woman must have children and rear them well. Chinese family patterns have implied that sex is inevitably connected with reproduction. Additionally, the motherhood mandate has ordained that the woman who bears a child must be the major person responsible for his or her rearing. Each woman raises one man’s children in an individual household viewed as private property and private space.
This has led to the slow development of institutions providing child-care services outside the home. Moreover, studies show that husbands of women working in the wage economy do not engage in more work around the house than do husbands whose wives stay at home. One recent survey found that only 14 percent of husbands in two-earner families perform as much as half the housework, and 60 percent do less than a quarter. Hence, working wives typically must do two jobs while their husbands’ do but one. Even if a husband is unemployed, he does much less housework than a wife who puts in a forty-hour week.
All too frequently, men appropriated women for their beds and likewise pressed them into service in their holds and kitchens. Within this context, women exchanged sexual and domestic services for male financial support. Women going outside the home to take jobs rather than staying home with children, young couples living together without the formality of marriage, and soaring divorce rates have raised questions about the functions of the family in Chinese society and its ability to survive in a period of rapid social change.
Does the family, as presently constituted in China, offer the best environment for bringing up children? Does it impose an inferior status on the women, confined and isolated in the home, performing household and child-raising role, suffer unduly in his personal development from bearing the primary responsibility for support of the family? Studying these problems deeply is my aim to write this paper. Among humans, reliance on group living for survival is a basic characteristic. We have inherited this from our primate ancestors, though we have developed it in our own distinctively human ways.
Even among monkeys and apes, group living requires the participation of adults of both sexes. Among those species which, like us, have taken up life on the ground, as well as among those species most closely related to us, adult makes are normally much larger and stronger than females, and their teeth are usually more efficient for fighting. Thus, they are essential for the group’s defense. Moreover, the close and prolonged relationship between infants and their mothers, without which the infants cannot survive, renders the adult primate female less well suited than the males to handler defense.
All through the human society, the woman’s situation is special and important. Not only in the ancient society but also in the modern society, female plays an important role. Taking care of the young is primarily the job of the adult primate female. Primate babies are born relatively helpless and remain dependent upon their mothers for a longer time than any other animals. This dependence is not only for food and physical care, but, as a number of studies have shown, primate infants deprived of normal maternal attention will not grow and develop normally, if they survive at all.
The protective presence of adult males shields the mothers from both danger and harassment from other troop members, allowing them to give their infants the attention they require. Among humans, the sexual division of labor has been developed beyond that of other primates. Until the recent advent of synthetic infant formulas, human females have more often than not been occupied much of their adult lives with child rearing. And human infants need no less active mothering than do the young of other primates.
For one thing, they are even more helpless at birth, and for another, the period of infant dependency is longer in humans. Besides all this, studies have shown that human infants, no less than other primates, need more than just food and physical care if they are to develop normally. But among humans, unlike other primates, all this mothering does not have to be provided by the infant’s biological mother. Not only may other women provide the child with much of the attention it needs, but so may men.
In all human societies, even though women may be the primary providers of childcare, they have other responsibilities as well. While many of the economic activities that they have traditionally engaged in have been compatible with their childrearing role, and have not placed their offspring at risk, this cannot be said of all of them. As a case in point, the common combination of childcare with food preparation, especially if cooking is done over an open fire, creates a potentially hazardous situation for children.
With the mother distracted by some other task, the child may all too easily receive a severe burn, or bad cut, with serious consequences. An effective way both to facilitate economic cooperation between the sexes while at the same time providing for a close bond between mother and child is through the establishment of residential groups that include adults of both sexes. The differing nature of male and female roles, as these are defined by different cultures, requires a child to have an adult of the same sex available to serve as a proper model for the appropriate adult role.
In the past, women provided unpaid child rearing and domestic services. Although most men have always belonged to the wage sector of the economy, most women were until recently left out of the wage economy altogether. Since household labor and child-care typically take place outside of trade and the marketplace, they were not considered “real work”-reflecting a sexist value system. In a society where money defines worth, women’s domestic labor was long belittled because it did not yield a monetary return.
Marriage is a transaction and resulting contract in which a woman and a man are recognized by society as having a continuing claim to the right of sexual access to each other, and in which the woman involved is eligible to bear children. Although in many societies, husbands and wives live together as members of the same household, this is not true in all societies. And though most marriages around the world tend to be to a single spouse, most societies permit and regard as most desirable, marriage of a single individual to multiple spouses.
Then, why is marriage universal? A problem universal to all human societies is the need to control sexual relations, in order that they not introduce a disruptive, combative influence into society. Because the problem it deals with is universal, it follows that marriage should be universal. The specific form marriage takes is related who has rights to offering that normally result from sexual intercourse, as well as how property is distributed. In the ancient Chinese, polygamous family is popular. It means that a man has many wives, but his wives only belong to him.
The source of this kind of family can exist is that at that time economy power is held by the man. In the period of funeral society, this kind of family exists about two thousand years, and it shows that inequality between the male and the female. A major source of tension within polygamous families is the potential for conflict that exists between the multiple spouses of the one individual to whom they are married. For example, under polygyny, the several wives of a man must be able to get along with a minimum of bickering and jealousy. One way to handle this is through sorrel polygyny, or marriage to women who are sisters.
Presumably, women who have grown up together can get along as co-wives of a man more easily than women who grew up in different households and have never had to live together before. Another mechanism is to provide each wife with a separate apartment or house within a household compound, and perhaps require the husband to adhere to a system of rotation for sleeping purposes. The latter at least prevents the husband from playing obvious favorites among his wives. Although polygyny can be difficult for the women involved, this is not always the case.
Sometimes, marriage and the establishment of a family are considered far too important to be left to the whims of young people. The marriage of two individuals who are expected to spend their whole lives together and raise their children together is incidental to the more serious matter of making allies of two families by means of the marriage bond. Marriage involves a transfer of rights between families, including rights to property and rights between families, including rights to property and rights over the children, as well as sexual rights.
Thus, marriages tend to be arranged for the economic and political advantage of the family unit. In the ancient Chinese society, this kind of arranged marriages is commonplace. Up until World War II, rural Chinese society was strongly patrilineal. Since then, there have been considerable changes, although vestiges of the old system persist, to varying degrees in different regions. Traditionally, the basic unit for economic cooperation was the large extended family, typically including aged parents, their sons, their sons’ wives and sons’ children. Residence, therefore, was patrilocal.
As in most patrilocal societies, then, children grew up in a household dominated by their father and his male relatives. The father himself was a source of discipline, from whom a child would maintain a respectful social distance. Often, the father’s brother and his sons were members of the same household. Thus, one’s paternal uncle was rather like a second father, and was treated with obedience and respect, while his sons were like one’s own brothers. Accordingly, kinship terms applied to one’s own father and brothers were extended to the father’s brother and his sons as well.
When families became too large and unwieldy, as frequently happened, one or more sons would move elsewhere to establish their own separate households; when one did so, however, the tie to his natal household remained strong. Important though family membership was for each individual, was the tsu that was regarded as the primary social unit. Each tsu consisted of men who traced their ancestry back through the male line to a common ancestor, usually within about five generations. Although a women belonged to the tsu of her father, for all practical purposes she was absorbed by that of her husband, with whom she went to live upon marriage.
Nonetheless, members of her natal tsu retained some interest in her after her departure. Her mother, for example, would come to assist her in the birth of her children, and her brother or some other male relative would look after her interests, perhaps even intervening if the woman was badly treated by her husband or other members of his family. The function of the tsu was to assist its members economically, and to come together on ceremonial occasions such as weddings, funerals, or to make offerings to the ancestors.
Recently deceased ancestors, up to about three generations back, were given offerings of food and paper money on the anniversaries of their births and deaths, while more distant ancestors were collectively worshipped five times a year. Each tsu maintained its own place for storage of ancestral tablets, on which the names of all members were recorded. In addition to its economic and ritual functions, the tsu also functioned as a legal body, passing judgement on errant members. Just as families periodically split up into new ones, so would the larger descent groups periodically splinter along the lines of its main family branches.
Causes included disputes among brothers over management of land holdings, or suspicion of unfair division of profits. When such separation occurred, a representative of the new tsu would return periodically to the ancestral temple in order to pay respect to the ancestors and record recent births and deaths in the official genealogy would be recognized, a copy of the old genealogy would be made and brought home to the younger tsu, following which only its births and deaths would be recorded.
In this way over many centuries, a whole hierarchy of descent groups developed, with all persons having the same surname considering themselves to be members of a great patrilineal clan. With this went surname exogamy, which is still widely practiced today even though clan members no longer carry on ceremonial activities together. The patrilineal system reached throughout rural Chinese social relations. Children owed obedience and respect to their fathers and older patrilineal relatives in life, and had to marry whomever their parents chose for them.
It was the duty of sons to care for their parents when they became old and helpless, and even after death, sons had ceremonial obligations to them. Inheritance passed from fathers to sons, with an extra share going to the eldest, since he ordinarily made the greater contribution to the household, and had the greater responsibility to his parents after their deaths. Women, by contrast, had no claims on their families’ heritable property.
Once married, a woman was in effect cast off by her own patrilineal kin (even though they might continue to take an interest in her) in order to produce children for her husband’s family and tsu. Next, in order to make my point clearly, I will take the Taiwanese Woman’s life for instance to describe a Chinese woman’s life in a man’s world. Women if rural Taiwan do not live their lives in the walled courtyards of their husband’s house hold. If they did, they might be as powerless as their stereotype.
It is in their relations in the outside world (and for women in rural Taiwan that world consists almost entirely of the village) that women develop sufficient backing to maintain some independence under their powerful mothers-in-law. A successful venture into the men’s world is no small feat when one recalls that the men of a village were born there and are often related to one another, whereas the women are unlikely to have either the ties of childhood or the ties of kinship to unite them.
All the same, shared interests, and common problems of women are reflected in every village in a loosely knit society that can when needed be called on to exercise considerable influence. Women carry on as many of their activities as possible outside the house. They wash clothes on the riverbank, clean and pare vegetables at a communal pump, men under a tree that is a known meeting place, and stop to rest on a bench or group of stones with other women. There is a continual moving back and forth between kitchens, and conversations are carried on from open doorways through the long, hot afternoons of summer.
The shy young girl who enters the village as a bride is examined as frankly and suspiciously by the women as an animal that is up for sale. If she is deferential to her elders, does not criticize or compare her new world unfavorably with the one she has left, the older residents will gradually accept her presence on the edge of their conversations and stop changing the topic to general subjects when she brings the family laundry to scrub on the rocks near them.
As the young bride meets other girls in her position, she makes allies for the future, but she must also develop relationships with the older women. She learns to use considerable discretion in making and receiving confidences, for a girl who gossips freely about the affairs of her husband’s household may find herself always on the outside of the group, or worse yet, accused of snobbery. Once a young bride has established herself as a member of the women’s community, she has also established for herself a certain amount of protection.
I f the members of her husband’s family step beyond the limits of propriety in their treatment of her—such as refusing to allow her to return to her natal home for her brother’s wedding or beating her without serious justification—she can complain to a woman friend, preferably older, while they are washing vegetables at the communal pump. The story will quickly spread to the other women, and one of them will take it upon herself to check the facts with another member of the girl’s household.
For a few days the matter will be thoroughly discussed whenever a few women gather. In a young wife’s first few years in the community, she can expect to have her mother-in-law’s side of any disagreement given fuller weight than her own—her mother-in-law has, after all, been a part of the community a lot longer. However, the discussion itself will serve to curb many offenses. Even if the older woman knows that public opinion is falling to her side, she will be some shat more judicious about refusing her daughter-in-law’s next request.
Still, the daughter-in-law who hopes to make use of the village forum to depose her mother-in-law or at least gain herself special privilege will discover just how important the prerogatives of age and length of residence are. Although the women can serve as a powerful protective force for their defenseless younger members, they are also a very conservative force in the village. Taiwanese women can and do make use of their collective power to lose face for their menfolk in order to influence decisions that are ostensibly not theirs to make.
Although young women may have little or no influence over their husbands and would not dare express an unsolicited opinion to their sons properly fathers-in-law, older women who have raised their sons properly retain considerable influence over their sons’ action, even in activities exclusive to men. Further, older women who have displayed years of good judgememt are regularly consulted by their husbands about major as well as minor economic and social projects. Bur even men who think themselves free to ignore the opinions of their women are never free of their own concept, face. It is much easier to lose face than to have face.
The rules that a Taiwanese man must learn and obey to be a successful member of his society are well developed, clear, and relatively easy to stay within. A Taiwanese woman must also learn the rules, but if she is to be a successful woman, she must learn not to stay within them, but to appear to stay within them; to manipulate them, but not to appear to be manipulating them; to teach them to her children, but not to depend on her children for her protection. A truly successful Taiwanese woman is a rugged individualist who has learned to depend largely on herself while appearing to lean on her father, her husband, and her son.
The contrast between the terrified young bride and the loud, confident, often lewd old women who has outlived her mother-in-law and her husband reflects the tests met and passed by not strictly following the rules and by making purposeful use of those who must. The Chinese male’s conception of women as “narrow-hearted” and socially inept may well be his vague recognition of this facet of women’s power and technique. In the modern society in China, the family has changes a lot and taken on a new look. Woman has not belonged to the man and her situation is higher than before.
Nowadays, families have to major forms: nuclear family and extended family. What is a nuclear family? In China, nuclear usually has a husband, a wife and their children. However, if there are no children, then the husband and wife are the nuclear family. In China, some young people do not want to bear the babies, and most of them are high educated. Of course, the nuclear family also includes this kind of family there may be only one parents due to death, separation, or divorce. In this case, the nuclear family is the single parent and children. Then, what is the extended family?
When we put two or more nuclear families together, we get an extended family. For most part, in the extended family a married couple is living with either the husband’s parents or the wife’s parents. But the couple may also live with aunts, uncles, cousin, and others who are not blood relations. The extended family pattern is popular in China, in particular, in the countryside. The extended family is poplar with the elderly because they will not be lonely when they live with their children. If an old man lives alone, he or she will get involved in the depression or feel constrained.
In China, if the people live close to their parents and they seldom to visit their parents, they will be considered as a stone-hearty person. When people grow up, they should take care of their parents and help them with medical bills. It was passed into law. There are not many offices and programs for helping the poor, the ill and the elderly, so people assume that since families need to take care of old people. Many old people live with their children not only because they are sick, but also because they try to avoid loneliness. In recent years, some young people have moved far away from their parents.
However, it is increasing to note that most of the young people interviewed for another recent survey preferred to live in their own homes rather than with their parents. And more and more old people learn to live alone and make their own spare time colorful instead of depression. Also, the community begins to encourage the elderly to change their life style. On the whole, first, the truth of the matter is that most old people do not live far from their children. Second, most of the elderly frequently see their children and also their siblings and other relatives.
Finally, the elderly are taken care of more often by their families than by public programs. So from my point of view, we can, in general, feel good about how the elderly are treated in China. In the new period, it is obvious that the new development of the family morality shows the new characteristic. I will explain it as follow. Firstly, the concept of the family morality is changed quickly. In the condition of the marketing economy, the thinking that the male is honorable than the female becomes more and more indifferent.
And the concept that the two sexes are equal, pursuing of the equality between the spouses has become the common desire of Chinese. It is shown: by research, the rate of the marriage that is based on that the people make decision for themselves is raised. The young always make decision on themselves or, at the same time, ask for opinions of their parents when they face their first marriage. The situation of the female is enhanced obviously in the family. In the aspect of family’s regular spending and buying the durable commodities, the couples make the decision together or the husband follow the wife’s.
Most families attach importance to increasing the quality of life and pursuing the new and healthy life style. About seventy per cent of the families spend some or enough money on culture. Above eighty-four per cent of parents consider it important and necessary to make emotional communication with their children. It illustrates that this kind of family, in which the sexes’ equality has been established. People like this kind of family’s atmosphere, which is full of harmony and democracy. Also, pursuing this kind of family has been people’s common expectation. Secondly, the center of the family has been changed.
In the progress of the changes of Chinese society, the structure of the family changes a lot. The family that is made of two generations and three people is the core of the society. The changes of the family make the function of the family change completely. The core of the family is bearing, producing and raising in the past, while nowadays the family has focused on consuming and educating. Under this condition, the aim of the marriage for the couples is to pursue the common ideal and common happiness. By research, we know that only 53 per cent of look bearing as the social duty.
6 per cent of people place all their hope and ideal on their children, and 12. 1 per cent of people consider bearing as the life’s pleasure. Therefore, forming the family and keeping the marriage mostly lies in the emotional communication and agreeing in tastes and temperament between the two sexes. Because the competition brings much pressure to the individual and intensifies their mental tension, the couples need more moral encouragement and psychological and physical adjustment, so as to keep the marriage steady and improve the quality of the life. The critic on moral of the family is varied.
The diversity of the concept of people’s thinking causes the diversity of the values. The research shows that 14. 4 percent of people think that there are both advantage and disadvantage on the trial marriage. About 19. 8 percent of people consider that illicit cohabitation is litigant’s owner’s things and others should not get involved in. This illustrates that, in the new period, people can pardon for various moral phenomenon. In the modern society, the new development of the family’s moral challenges to a fight against the traditional moral concept.
Since the reform and open, people have pursued the harmony of the relationship of the sexes and marriage; have pursued the freedom to choose the life style and the freedom of the marriage pattern. However, corrupted by the money and the material desires, people yield to utility on the aspect of choosing activities. Therefore, the family based on the true love loses contact with course. In the meanwhile, on the effect of the Western sexual liberation, the moral of the family occurs and the rate of the divorce is higher than before.
Most family’s tragedy is caused by the involvement of a third party, the illegal wife and the bigamy. Above half of the divorces occur with the different degrees’ family violence. The family violence causes the rise of the crime. Because the sufferers are mostly women, old men and children, it is difficult for this feeble group to evade from the misfortune. In the long period of suffering from the violence, some women leave their families and make a living by robbing, stealing and being a prostitute. This endangers the social stability.
Another state of affairs is that the number of the single-parent families and the poor families is raised. In particular, the children from this kind of families are hurt in the emotion. In addition, they cannot be taken care of well in their daily life. Most of these children are of an uncommunicative and eccentric disposition, or are introverted by nature. Their attitude towards the life is negative so it is easy for them to become criminals. By research, that the rate of the juvenile delinquency is increased is connected with the disharmony of the family and divorce of parents.
Last, the adult get involved in the remarriage of their old parents is a new phenomenon. This kind of family contradiction constitutes the new situation of the family morality. As we know that the children’s self-esteem is a very big problem. Therefore, I will focus on this in the following paragraphs. Self-esteem is what people think about themselves—whether or not they feel valued— and when family members have self-respect, pride, and belief in themselves, this high self-esteem makes it possible to cope with the every problems of growing up.
Successful parenting begins by communication to children that they belong, and are loved for no other reason than just because they exist. Through touch and tone of voice parents tell their infants whether or not they are valued, special, and loved, and it is these messages that form the basis of the child’s self-esteem. When children grow up with love and are made to feel lovable despite their mistakes and failures, they are able to interact with others in a responsible, honest, and loving way. A healthy self-esteem is a resource for coping when difficulties arise, making from which the individual can emerge.
If, however, children grow up without love and without feelings of self-worth, they feel unlovable and worthless and expect to be cheated, taken advantage of, and looked down upon by others. Ultimately their actions invite this treatment, and their self-defeating behavior turns expectations into reality. They do not have the personal resources to handle everyday problems in a healthy way, and life may be viewed as just one crisis after another. Without a healthy self-esteem they may cope by acting out problems rather than talking them out or by withdrawing and remaining indifferent toward themselves and others.
These individuals grow up to live isolated, lonely lives, lacking the ability to give the love that they have never received. Self-esteem is a kind of energy, and when it is high, people feel like they can handle anything. It is what one feels when special things are happening or everything is going great. A word of praise, a smile, a good grade on a report card, or doing something that creates pride within oneself can create this energy. When feelings about the self have threatened and self-esteem is low, everything becomes more of an effort.
It is difficult to hear, see, or think clearly, and others seem rude, inconsiderate, and rough. The problem is not with others, it is with the self, but often it is not until energies are back to normal that the real problem is recognized. Children need help understanding that their self-esteem and the self-esteem of those they interact with have a direct effect on each other. For example, a little girl comes home from school and says. “I need loving cause my feelings got hurt today. ” The mother responds to her child’s need to be held and loved.
If instead the mother said she was too busy to hold the little girl, the outcome would have been different. The infant’s self-esteem is totally dependent on family members, and it is not until about the time the child enters school that outside forces contribute to feelings about the self. A child must also learn that a major resource for healthy self-esteem comes from within. Some parents raise their children to depend on extend rather than internal reinforcement through practices such as paying for good grades on report cards or exchanging special privileges for good behavior.
The child learns to rely on others to maintain a high self-esteem and is not prepared to live in a world in which desirable behavior does not automatically produce a tangible reward such as a smile, money, or special privileges. Maintaining a healthy self-esteem is a challenge that continues throughout life. One family found that they could help each other identify positive attitudes. One evening during an electric storm the family gathered around the kitchen table, and each person wrote down two things that they liked about each family member.
The father later commented, “It was quite an experience, opening each little piece of paper and reading the message. I still have those gifts, and when I have had a really bad day, I read through them and I always come away feeling better. ” The foundation of a healthy family depends on the ability of the parents to communicate messages of love, trust, and self-worth to each child. This is the basis on which self-esteem is built, and as the child grows, self-esteem changes from a collection of other’s feelings to become personal feelings about the self.
Ultimately a person’s self-esteem is reflected in the way he or she interacts with others. In conclusion, the family is the core of the society and not only the man and the woman but also the elderly and the children all play important roles in it. The happy family is the family that every member can live happily and get love from each other. The elderly can be taken care of and the children can get good education and self-esteem. We should take our great efforts to build the new and healthy family concept.