China and the United States each have their own unique cultures that influence their day to day living. Everything from marriage, childbirth, child rearing, and death rituals differ greatly among these two cultures. The traditions that are put into place for each country, help shape the individual personas of their people.
Marriages in China are often pre-arranged by parents for their children. Parents seek our marriage partners for their children that will increase help increase their social class and economic wealth. In the United States, where a free choice marriage system is in place, one may consider the Chinese marriage arrangements as little more than a business deal. Pimintel hypothesized that Chinese marriages will have a higher percentage of success. His reasoning was that Chinese arranged marriages start out cold and can only get hotter. However, with free choice marriages, they start out with a romantic high based purely on emotions. Pimintel claims that these marriages have nowhere to go but down. (Pimintel, 2001)
No matter what path one chooses to marriage, the next step within a marriage for both cultures is to create a family. While the United States and China have many similar beliefs regarding pregnancy and child birth, they have many differing beliefs as well. Some similar beliefs shared among Chinese and American women include healthy eating, avoiding heavy lifting, and the mother to be obtaining plenty of rest. However, the women of China have many more superstitions then American women when it comes to pregnancy.
1. Chinese mothers should avoid using sharp knives, scissors, or other sharp objects on their beds. They believe this can lead to cleft lip babies.
2. Do not hang anything on the walls of the mother’s bed. This can lead to birthmarks.
3. Avoid Cold Foods because this can lead to miscarriage.
When it comes time for a mother to give birth, the different beliefs among Chinese and American culture are apparent. In American hospitals women are not allowed to eat throughout the labor and birth process. Chinese women believe that one should eat throughout their labor to provide the energy needed to give birth. Unlike here in America, Chinese fathers rarely take part in the birthing process. The mother is attended by her closest female family members. Immediately following birth Chinese women go through what is referred to as a “sitting month.” This is the period of care right after birth for approximately one to three months. There are many traditions a woman must adhere to in her sitting month. Women are to abstain from taking a bath, washing their hair, exposing themselves to cold water, cold temperature environment and wind, drinking ice water or eating “cold” food. The reason for this belief is that they believe a woman goes through a “cold” period following birth due to loss of blood. It is believed to regain their energy a woman should avoid cold foods, cold air, and cold water. In American hospitals, cold foods are routinely served following birth. Chinese women who have immigrated to America, will often have their food brought in from outside for this reason. It is not uncommon for American women to return to work and their daily lives as soon as two weeks after the delivery of a child unlike the Chinese culture. (Hoai, 2000)
Due to the rapid growth of their country, China put in place a “one child law” in 1979. This law would protect China from a rapid growth in population. Though this law has helped reduce China’s population, it has had certain unethical results as well. In China, a male child is the preferred sex. A male child will continue on the family’s name. With China’s one child law in place, this has caused vagrant sexual discrimination. Parents only have one chance to get the much wanted male heir. This has led to abortions, orphanages being overrun with baby girls, and in severe cases, Baby girls being murdered as soon as they are brought into the world. Here in America where choices such as family size are protected by our constitutional rights, many Americas find China’s One Child Law not only immoral but sickening. ( Kane, 1999)
China’s one child law has had many influential effects on how Chinese parents raise their children. It has been a common concern within the Chinese community, that their children will lack social skills due to their lack of a sibling. There is also a concern that the China one child law has created what is known as the 4-2-1 Syndrome. Four grandparents and two parents, all investing in an emerging generation of spoiled, lazy, selfish, self-centered and overweight children. In America, most families consist of at least two children. Many families in America are even larger. Children will help take care of their younger siblings helping with their everyday social interactions and even teach them responsibility. However, some Chinese parents send their children off to boarding school to help them learn responsibility when they are as young as four years old. This is unheard of in the American culture. (Freeman, n.d.)
When it comes to death and dying, Chinese and American culture share many of the same beliefs. However, in China patients are not told the life threatening situation of illnesses such as cancer. The families are told and left to make the important decisions about their loved ones last days. Burial rituals are often determined by religion in China and America as well. White is considered the color of mourning in China. Black is considered the color of mourning in America. (Death and Dying, n.d.) No matter what death and dying traditions are in place, these cultures share one thing. That is, the feeling of grief when faced with the death of a loved one.
Marriage, birth, child rearing, and preparing that child to go into the world is a common life cycle shared by American and Chinese cultures alike. Each culture shares their own set of beliefs regarding all of the above mentioned items. How one is raised is what helps shape their personas as adults. China and Americans beliefs may differ regarding traditions for the above events. This does not mean either one is wrong or right. Different beliefs and cultures are what make the world interesting. The world is full of a variety of different people, cultures, and beliefs.
Death and dying. (n.d.)
Freeman, N. (n.d.). Early education in china.
Hoai, D. (2000, June 1). Chinese cultural profile.
Kane, P. (1999, October 9). China’s one child family policy.
Pimentel, E. E. (2000). Just How Do I Love Thee?: Marital Relations in Urban China. Journal of Marriage and the Family.62 (1), 32-47.