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You can not understand the Vietnamese until you first understand the importance of the family. As in many other Asian countries, family is the foundation of Vietnamese society. Many families have 3 generations living under one roof. Today, however, more and more couples are choosing to move into their own homes. (And more can afford to do so!)

It is traditional for a married couple to care for the man's parents; subsequently, it is very important to have a son! If there is only one son, he and his wife must live with his parents. If there are no sons, one of the daugters may remain unmarried and care for her parents.

Decision-making is a family affair. As a Vietnamese friend explained, "In your country, when you turn 18, you can make decisions for yourself. In Vietnam, when I am 40, if my parents are still alive, I must ask them." Little wonder things change slowly here.

A typical extended family in the Mekong Delta.

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