The Eldest SonPosted: November 2, 2012
I’ve become fascinated by the role of the eldest son in Vietnam. Not just what is expected of him but also how it colours all family life.
Because the eldest son will one day keep the parents – so, from a very early age, the parents are a little scared of their own boy. Above all else the parents cannot afford to upset the eldest son and the son surely understands this.
In arguments with siblings the eldest son is most likely to backed. Request for possessions or preferential treatment are investments parents expect to see a return on.
You cannot afford to risk your relationship with your son.
A daughter will leave – perhaps marrying an eldest son herself. Then she will be part of the payback of another parental investment – expected not just to cook and clean for her husband and parents but also, frequently, any yet-to-leave sisters too. In this instance, it’s the mother-in-law that’s frequently the enforcer – safeguarding the payback while keeping her son onside by controlling his wife.
The question is: how do you begin to gain equality for women when parents can’t afford not to put their sons first?
And when and how will this change?