Wednesday, January 16, 2013

An Interview on Parenting in Thailand

A special thank you to my grandmother's friends, Jeff and Mai, for answering some of the questions I had. Here's a copy of our interview via email:

Who takes care of the children?

Children in Thailand are many times cared for from an early age by other family members, other than the parents.  Generally this is the grandparents or another sister.  The reason for this I think is tradition and the fact the the parents work sometimes apart and away for the family setting.  It appears that when the child is an infant this is more normal, and then when the child is of school age they would return to stay with the parents for school.  Remember that the family unit i.e.the children  parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters,brothers,and cousins are still a much closer unit than in the United States and many times all of them live within close distance to each other.  Of course this is not true in the US any more.  

How are children disciplined?
As far as discipline -- Thai children seem to respect elders better than the counterpart in the US ---this has to do with tradition more than anything else I think.  At the early ages the Thai children  are very well behaved and until about nine or ten appear to be more behaved than US kids.  However as they get older some of them are more like American kids and act-out and misbehave more.  This is not the majority.  As the child is held in great esteem, and the parents want nothing but the best for the child discipline is limited, but not really needed. Most children here know what is expected of them. 

What are parent-child relationships like?
The parent-child relationship is much like here, but appears to be closer. As mentioned before, the child may stay with other people for extended periods of time, but the parent-child relationship does not appear to suffer because of it.

How are schools different here than in the U.S.?
Schools are much stricter than the US.  The government schools must follow a national structure of learning, so that everyone in the country learns the same way.  There is a difference with the country and the city schools, as money issues make a difference as to the general quality of education.  In the future all of the students will be provided with government issued laptops and textbooks will be a thing of the past.   The goal of all is to get into a good university or technical college.  As used to be in the past in the United States, education for the child is number one.   Kids do not work while in school, as in the US.  They are given all they need for spending clear through college by the parents, and the child has the freedom to study and to play.  Of course this puts quite a burden on the parents, but they seem to come up with the money somehow.  Almost all the the children go to after-school learning, sometime two or more schools, and many times seven days a week, as the parents feel that their child should get ahead and be ranked the highest.  Also there there are many private schools and if the child can be sent there that is where they will go.  One private school here has more than 5,000 students.  

Who takes care of the grandparents when they retire?
It is still a child's requirement to take care of their elders.  So a grandparent is taken care of by the children and/or a close relative, as used to be in the past in the US.  Most of the responsibility is on the oldest son; however, all of the family members will help.  This may be changing as there are now some old-folks homes in Thailand, but this is not the norm. 

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