Family Life



Family Life in China has remained a very important aspect of life throughout the centuries.  Family life has changed in the last few generations due to the country modernising, change in Governments, and religious influences.

Traditionally Family Life was based on the Philosophical views of Confucius, which became known as the Confucianism religion. Confucianism became popular at the time of the Qin Dynasty. Social order and communal behaviour were preached through Confucianism. Relationships within the family and depending on your standing dictated how you would interact with each other. You were expected to know your place, be respectful of elders, and take orders from the head of the family and to be benevolent of the young.  Women were to be subordinate to their father then husband and also to the son if the husband dies. Men were allowed to remarry and have concubines but women were not allowed to remarry after their husband had died. Traditionally Family’s lived together in court yard housing in the hutongs. Court yard housing contained a series of buildings depending on where you were in the family hierarchy decided which wings of the house you lived in. The husband was the head of the family and was responsible for all the decisions made also the bread winner for all. Marriages were often forced and arranged to increase family standing in society and for more wealth.

This is not so different from other countries centuries ago.  Royal families or wealthy families often arranged marriages with other wealthy families. The head of the family was the husband and bread winner.

When the People’s Republic took over in China began to change Family life to what it is today. The People’s Republic wanted to give women more rights. In 1950 the new marriage law was introduced Where forced/arranged marriage is no longer allowed, women were to be seen as equals, divorce was now lawfully allowed, Men had to be 20 to be married and women 18.  In 1983 it became legal to marry foreigners. In 2003 they outlawed married people living in cohabitation to decrease the amount of people having concubines.  Also in 1980 they introduced the one child policy.

The Husband is still considered the head of the house hold but no longer has complete control. Education has played a key role in changing the family dynamics. Woman being seen as equals has allowed them to get proper education and become bread winners themselves. There is now choice in what you can do with your life rather than having it decided for you.

Many families are now being separated because people have to move around to find work. Mainly from the country to the city. It then makes it difficult to visit family as holidays are rare and normally there is a lot of distance between home and the city.

Introducing the one child policy has made families very nuclear. When these kids grow up there not going to have aunties and uncles. Families are going to be very small compared to the past where extended families would live together. Children are now very precious to the Chinese people. Traditionally a son was the preferred to be the heir to the family. This view is still their today and many families have medically chosen what gender they want their child to be because they can only have one. The government is trying to prevent people from doing this. Doing so has created an imbalance in the gender ratio with more men than there are women.

Today there is an increasing number of single parents and a new single parents club has been set up. This shows family life has changed from the rational by quite a bit. This is mainly due to divorce increasing with modern life. Many people are now postponing marriage in order to start their careers, to gain an education and save up money to afford the cost of starting a family and purchasing a home.

In conclusion Family Life has changed over the generations more so in recent times. Traditionally Family life was based on the teachings of Confucianism and how to behave properly. The People’s Republic changed the Family dynamics to what it is today. They introduced new laws which allowed divorce; one child policy outlawed arranged marriage Modern life like moving to find work in cities has also changed families.




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