Chinese in Southeast Asia - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Urban Chinese generally marry in their twenties or thirties, and residence after marriage is often with the husband's family. It is common to marry across subethnic ("dialect") group boundaries; Overseas Chinese tend toward a high degree of religious tolerance, and religious differences are in general not a barrier to intermarriage. Chinese have intermarried with members of local Southeast Asian populations; however, intermarriage with a Muslim entails conversion to Islam and so, to some extent, loss of Chinese identity—thus the rate of intermarriage has been lower in Malaysia and Indonesia than elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Divorce in traditional Chinese society was difficult: a woman who left her husband would give up her children who, as members of her husband's patrilineage, would remain with their father's family. This is no longer the case; women have a much higher likelihood of getting custody rights under modern laws than they did in the prewar period. With the increasing economic independence of women, and with residence in extended families often replaced by nuclear-family residence, divorce is no longer as strongly discountenanced as it once was.

Domestic Unit. The extended patrilineal family persists, and at the most developed phase in the cycle a family may include parents, unmarried sons and daughters, and married sons with their wives and children. The nuclear family, however, is increasingly the norm, and young couples who can afford to do so establish independent residences.

Inheritance. Property is passed from the husband to his wife and children upon death; however, the patrilineal custom of leaving property to sons persists. Men, while living, may give property and financial support to persons who are not legal heirs (such as "little wives" and their children), who may be helped with gifts, support in achieving educational goals, or loans to aid them in business ventures.

Socialization. Child-rearing responsibilities fall primarily to the mother, though grandparents or other relatives sometimes tend children, freeing the mother to seek employment. Children are taught to respect their elders by using the appropriate terms of address and, ideally, to show deference to authority by not defending themselves when criticized. Education follows the standard of the country in which children reside: Chinese-medium education has been restricted throughout Southeast Asia (except in Singapore and in Malaysia, where the constraints are relatively moderate), and government-designed curriculums attempt to orient the younger generation toward identification with Southeast Asian national cultures. Chinese cultural forms are often transmitted outside the educational system by community-based cultural and recreational clubs.

User Contributions:

Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 19, 2012 @ 11:23 pm
Hi, I found this article quite interesting. I would like to quote it, but I would like to validate the source first. Could you please tell me who is the author and which are his sources?

Many thanks,


Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: