Part One of Thai Proverbs, Thai Chat And A Chat Across Cultures: The Mother-In-Law
Trevor: It is certain that not all mother-in-laws are a nightmare surely?
I have no problem with my mother in law at all, because she is so nice with my family . I believe and do follow the rules of expectation to each other. For instance you will be happy if your husband would like to take care your parents, so we do cross duty.This is a duty of good daughter and good son to take care of mother and father. When you are married you should also do the same to your husband or wife’s parents. Then you will find a very big and happy family surrounding you.
It must be the daughter-in-laws fault sometimes?
Kitiya , North-East Thailand:
A link to Kitiya’s blog about North-Eastern and Thai life
I’ve heard so many tales of daughter-in-laws and mother-in-laws that don’t get on so well together and I am sorry for that. This was also something that happened in my family between my mother and the daughter-in-law. This was the other way around though where the daughter-in-law tried to bully my mum and speak ill of her. My mother is a very good person and soon let the daughter-in-law know what’s what and that she would not stand to be bullied.
A Thai Proverb from Kitiya
“Ginger is strong so is Galangal” (ขิงก็ราข่าก็แรง)
Meaning that both people are stubborn and strong-willed and there will be no let up either way.
Trevor: I was wondering if any non-Thai had made the change of moving in with the entire Thai family or had the entire Thai family move in with them and what difficulties were experienced if any?
Peter, New Zealand National, Living In Thailand:
When I was living and working in Cambodia I lived with the family in law, all in the same room. They did everything all in that room as it was only a single room a bamboo house/hut and there were no problems. When my wife went back with me to New Zealand and she met the family, there were no problems either, but we stayed in our own house though. She is actually my ex-wife now, but it’s the same for here in Thailand now that I have a new wife. EVERYTHING boils down to the understanding and taking part in the new culture. If you don’t take on the new culture, you might as well buy a ticket on the next plane home.
Trevor: So Have Things Changed Now?
Marike The Netherlands, but living in Chiang Mai, Thailand:
A lot of these cultural stereotypes are dying Trevor, as Thai people no longer NEED to live in extended family groups for financial reasons. Huge numbers of Thais are abandoning their traditional extended family way of living in favour of a boring old farang style concrete house in a moo baan, just as soon as their income allows it.
Trevor: But the parents must be looked after in Thailand. This is priority, is that not right?
There is a strong desire in Thailand and other Asian countries to take care of the parents as they grow old and this will be in all ways and not just financially. The Thai finds it utterly deplorable that in the West we might hand over our aging parents to retirement homes or other such establishments to look after them. Finally I went back to Keown and Kade for a view on this.
Keown, Thai National, North-East Of Thailand – Now Living In England
In Bangkok I believe that things have changed more to what I would call the western influence and families are now more independent. Not all of Bangkok I am sure, but this is what I have noticed. However the majority of places in Thailand will still continue with the same culture as far as parents are concerned. There would still be one child or more perhaps that would have the parents living with them and would look after them in to old age and until they pass away. Those that have money might well pay someone to look after their elderly parents whilst they are out working.
We still have very strong traditions in Thailand and they are always going to be there in place, especially regarding family. I am glad we don’t have the western type of ”Independent Culture” as I don’t want to end up dying alone in some darn nursing home….. Certainly not.
Kasinee Silapee (nickname Kade), Bangkok, Thailand
There are different cases for different families. In the first account quite often when children have their own families they will move out from their parents’ home, but will all still support their parents with some budget. It’s a must, it’s a child’s duty and it usually comes from their own wishes. This is to show their gratitude to their parents.
In the second instance, some Thai families still live all together in the same house, but have expanded or renovated some rooms in the house to be their residence. The main reason is they want their children to be close to the grand parents , so that relationships in the family are still maintained and preserved.
Finally, there are some children who separate from the parents and might not support their parents much, because they have financial problems, but it doesn’t mean, the wish of supporting their parents does not exist. They will help out straight away as soon as they possibly can.
Trevor: The Final question and I would love your comments please
Being that it was always the case that Thai families lived either with or very close to each other and westerners tend not to live together as large families I was wondering if there was anyone out there who made the change of moving in with the entire Thai family or had the entire Thai family move in with them or know of others who have and what difficulties were experienced if any?
On the other hand any Thai ladies marrying foreigners, how was life with the foreign mother-in-law. I would also love to hear of any western lady who married a Thai man and became part of the family in Thailand or even a Thai man who has moved abroad and married in to a western family.
In the next Thai proverbs and Thai chat I am going to look at the various roles we play in our daily lives just to please people…. coming real soon.
I am shortly going to be making a Thai Proverbs section on the website below that will have all translations of proverbs in order for you to recite. I will update this page with the specific information soon.
Engaging Thailand Website
For more information, articles and stories about Thailand travel, food and all things Thai related, please visit the website
You can learn a lot more about Thai culture and gain a more in-depth level of understanding of the Thai trough the work of Christopher G. Moore. A superb collection of essay’s and one of my favourite books on Thai culture and reflections on the writing life in Thailand of Christopher G Moore.
A Recommended Book
The Cultural Detective by Christopher G. Moore