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When Chinese wives meet American mothers-in-law

(People's Daily Online)

13:55, January 10, 2013

(People's Daily Overseas Edition)

For Chinese families, the relationship most prone to conflict is that between the daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. Chinese women married to American men tend to quarrel with their mothers-in-law due to different cultural and language backgrounds.

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American parents attach great importance to the independence of their adult children. A Chinese woman surnamed Zhang lived in San Diego, California with her American husband, who was fired by his company in May 2012. Given the sluggish local job market, the couple moved to the house of her mother-in-law in Long Island, New York, and her husband soon started looking for a job there.

After living there for just half a month, Zhang could not help but complain to her husband that the mother-in-law had asked her such questions since the second week as whether they had rented a house outside, when they could move out, and how they would split water and electricity bills. Zhang could not understand why the mother-in-law, who has a four-story house, wanted her only son to move out at a time when he lost his job. Most Chinese parents wish to live with their sons and daughters-in-law, and some may even use their pensions to help financially difficult children.

However, Zhang’s husband thought that they had indeed disturbed the life of his mother, and it was inappropriate to live in his mother’s house for a long time. Two weeks later, they moved out after renting a house in the city, and her husband even paid his mother a month’s rent and utility fees.

Another Chinese woman surnamed Wang who married an American man in early 2012 also finds it hard to adapt to the American-style family life. Wang and her mother-in-law live in Southern and Northern California respectively, and seldom meet each other, let alone quarrel. Last year, Wang stayed in Northern California for four days to spend Thanksgiving Day with the close relatives of her husband for the first time. When she talked to her mother-in-law over the phone before setting out, the mother-in-law asked her twice whether they had booked a hotel room. She felt “odd,” and wondered why they could not live in the house of the mother-in-law for just a few days.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:高奕楠、Ye Xin)

Leave your comment20 comments

  1. Name

Yank at 2013-02-07108.89.33.*
The writer failed to mention most American men regard mainland Chinese women as busses.Wonder why ?
PD User at 2013-01-15173.70.65.*
Why do Asian women marry white men?
Eric at 2013-01-1472.64.148.*
It"s pretty easy to explain the difference: in the U.S. there is no "social contract" between parents and children. When the children need help the parents are not required to assist them after 18 years of age, and similarly, the children will rarely assist their parents after they retire. The concept of independence is paramount.
HuoQiao at 2013-01-1475.72.239.*
You allowed Francois Meurier comment but failed to allow mine? what a shame to such bias news network. In America, kids turn against parents, neighbor agaisnt neighbor, and police against its citizens. Your neighbor call police on you for soem noices, not because they want to make sure things going OK but they want to see you go. If Francois (a French name) can"t see isolation, boredom, depression, then Francois must have never step out of his door steps and never seen nor experience life in China. 95 percent of French and U.S citizens never wondered any further then their shopping malls.
annmarie at 2013-01-1468.9.133.*
I know of NO ONE in the United States whose child calls their grandma "mama". No one.

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