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Vietnamese Lifestyles in The 21st Century
The people of Vietnam value faithfulness, virtue, and intelligence. This is reflected in the folktales of the land. Family loyalty and duty take precedence over individual concerns. Traditionally, Vietnamese life has revolved around family, fields and faith, the rhythm of rural existence continuing for centuries at the same pace. For the majority of the population still living in the countryside, these constants have remained unchanged, with several generations sharing the same roof, the same rice and the same religion. But in recent decades these rhythms have been jarred by technologies and city lifestyles. As the younger generation begins to toy with the advanced technologies of the world, the clash between the younger and older generations begin. This is creating plenty of feisty friction in the cities, as sons and daughters dress as they like, date who they want and hit the town until all hours. But few live on their own and they still come home to their parents at the end of the day, where arguments might arise, particularly when it comes to marriage and settling down. Extended family is important to the Vietnamese and that includes second, third cousins, or even close neighbors, the sort of family that many westerners may not even realize they have. The extended family comes together during times of trouble and times of joy, celebrating festivals and successes, mourning deaths or disappointments. This is a source of strength for many of the older generation, while for the younger generation it’s likely to be friends, girlfriends or gangs who play the role of anchor.

These traditional values are a far cry from what Vietnamese life is like today. They are in the midst of urbanization and modernization. Children are disregarding values more and more and rather navigating on their own moral compass. They follow trends of the glamorous American lifestyle wandering further away from the traditional Vietnamese cultures and traditions. As in the folktale of the tiger, I wonder if children will hold the same loyalty and respect for their parents as the fisherman did for his mother in the story. I wonder if family values will be thrown away like a piece of trash or tucked away in their hearts like a hidden gem only to be revealed for when needed. Nevertheless, traditional family values in the younger Vietnamese generation are questionable. In recent years, the institution of the family has come under intense pressure throughout Vietnamese civilization. It is, however, regarded by many that the traditional role of the family in modern Vietnam is under more pressure than at any other stage in Vietnamese history. “Doi Moi” or the development of western style capitalism, government family planning policies, modernization, individualism and westernization seem to be assaulting the traditional family from all sides. The future for the traditional family structure remains unclear. What is certain is that Vietnam’s economic and cultural transformation shows no sign of abating and it is within this context that the traditional family structure must develop and change to meet the needs of the “new” Vietnamese way of life. Vietnam and its family structure currently stand at an important crossroads.

Link to Folklore