"Love and sharing are the core and unchangeable values of Vietnamese family, without categorising any form of family." - Mr. Huu Van Hoa, Deputy Director General, Family Department (MOCST) claimed.


On the occasion of Vietnam's Family Day on June 28th, essential values of contemporary family, the changes and also challenges which any family is confronting became the discussing topic on the conference: "Core values and challenges facing Vietnamese contemporary families", which just occured recently. The conference is hosted by Institution for Studies of Society, Economics and Environment (iSEE) and United Nations of Development Programme (UNDP) co-organised, within the support of United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

In modern society, the rapid change of the economy, society, culture, technology have a profound influence, making the internal structure and external form of Vietnamese society change perpetually. Therefore, the question: "Which is the core value of Vietnamese contemporary families?" is raised.

What is mentioning is that this change is not just about having an upward or downward tendency. In a multi-dimensional society, the change of such social entity, like so, becomes diversified. Vietnamese contemporary families have been changing in different directions, among where, besides the unsuitable traditional values, emerge new values which are worth appreciating.

Quynh Phuong Pham, Ph.D, assumes, discourses on families through the lens of policies, research and media are emphasising on the stability, the entirety of a family which has the whole parents, children. It is within the traditional values of the complete family circle that appear prejudicial stereotypes on families which take other forms such as surrogate family, divorced family, family without having children, homosexual family,... To avoid these prejudices, many people have insinuated themselves into the shell of a stereotypical family, trying to sustain the "normal" family under the eyes of society; meanwhile, core values such as love and respect, moderate care are very few or non-existent. From this point, real challenges towards Vietnamese contemporary families manifest.

According to a recently published survey conducted by iSEE, which the samples are more than 1,500 people within 2 months (May and June, 2015), depicts Vietnamese families have many problems inside and outside. 27.5% have conflicts and disharmony, 16% have love affairs, 9.9% have debts without the capability of paying and other issues.

In the family, women experience extra-marital conditions more severely than men (19.6% and 10.1%, respectively). This explains why the majority of having love affairs are men. The proportion of female spouses who feel "unpeaceful", "unsatisfactory" with some aspects of family life (sharing bonds, having mutual care, partner's faithfulness, housework role division) is considerably higher than men. 6.2% women who experience domestic violence is also a problem.

Meanwhile, gender stereotypes with traditional values such as: "Man is the pillar of the house" or "Father is the rooftop" are still pervasive. This leads to prejudices towards surrogate family (single mom), simultaneously creates pressure to men (financial responsibility, harsh education). LGBT community also have the same pressure as heterosexual family life's aspects such as marriage (27.5%), breeding (25%) and followed by relatives' pressure. Discrimination on unconventional families is heavily rooted inside the Vietnamese mind-set. This, by chance, hampers LGBT families finding or expressing our happiness.

"Even though discourses on families usually refer to goals such as "happiness", "progressiveness", and "a home truly", but these goals are really abstract. It seems like we care more about the outside stereotypical look of families more than the core factors create happiness in families." - Phuong, Ph.D, shares.

Due to Thanh Tra Pham, M.D, (iSEE): "When traditional values of a family like families need to have both parents and children predominate, some new opinions forming new familiy values appear."

The results of iSEE's survey illustrates, when general public still maintain traditional mind-set, in each family, each individual has changes, different needs of "happiness" concept. Perspectives on changing the forms and values expressed through a considerable proportion of supporting families with foreign partners (49%) and LGBT families (19%). High ratios of asked people have neutral opinions on surrogate family because of divorce (35.3%), surrogate family without marriage (33.7%), cohabitation family (26.4%) or families without children (32.1%) also show a fair openness towards these types of family. The tendency of people who support unconventional families from urban areas is higher than in rural places.

It is certain that when life changes, people change and this makes family-the cell of the society transforms itself. There are traditional family values that are not suitable with the modern society like polygamous family, four generations under the same roof, submission to the husband during her marriage, men have every right to decide, women have no voice in the house,... Even notions of a stereotypical family with the "right standards" also have controversial opinions. Some families have the "right standards" but the parents do not love each other, having domestic violence, love affairs, leaving children's education for the school. It appears there are many single-mom, single-dad families, LGBT families... In terms of stereotypes, these families are considered "not right", unbalanced because of missing a father or a mother. The infertility rate is higher, and with some changing life style of "enjoyment" makes the number of families without children become higher. In the notion of a traditional family, those are ill-fated family.

All of those, in the end, are just the shell of a family. A real family is a place where we can share and be loved. Even in any era, under any type of social order, the core value of family is love. Wherever love is, there is family. It comes as no surprise that to many people, orphanages, schools to them is their real home, not the family that has father and mother but lacking love, warm atmosphere.

Talking about this orientation, Deputy Director General of Family Department (MOCST) Huu Van Hoa presumes: "The changing tendency of families in general and the diversity of the forms of family in particularly, under the multi-dimensional impact