Thai Family Values and How They are Different From Western Ones

A typical Thai family – copyright, Hanumann, Creative Commons License

Westerners who spend enough time around Thais quickly learn how close most Thais are to their families. But, even westerners who live many years in Thailand don’t always understand how deep a Thai’s connection with┬átheir family is or what it means if they are in a relationship or a marriage with a Thai.

Like most Asian cultures, Thais are closer to their families than most westerners, which shows in every aspect of their lives.

Thais Will Usually Live With Their Family – Not only will the majority of Thais, both male and female, live with their families while in university, they also often also continue to live with them after graduation and beyond.

When they get married, a large percentage of Thais still live with one of the couple’s parents up to and even after they have children of their own. For a Thai, who is close to their family, it seems alien to think about living away from them.

Plus, when they become adults and have a family of their own, why deprive their parents of their grand children? And, why spend more money on a house of your own, if you can live cheaper with your parents?

Of course, as Thailand modernizes, this is changing somewhat but, overall, unless they are living away from their family due to work, most Thais will continue to live with them. It’s rather lovely really.

Family Is as Important as a Spouse – Having family values in Thailand means, if a Thai man or woman has to make a decision either for or against their parents’ wishes versus for or against the wishes of their spouse, they will often make the decision their parents want them to make.

For Thais, they appreciate so much what their parents did for them, bringing them up and taking care of them, this means even when they are adults, they must pay their parents back. If that means doing what their parents want them to do, and not always what their husband or wife wants them to do, so be it.

Strangely though, most of the time it doesn’t cause much friction between spouses as the other spouse, if in the same situation, would likely make the same decision too.

Family Is More Important Than a Job – If a Thai has to do something for their parents, even if it means it will negatively impact their job, too bad, parents will win out every time.

The same goes for brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents and, often even friends. The needs of the family (and close friends) is more important than the needs of a job or a boss.

It is rare to meet a Thai who will choose a job over family. After all, there are thousands of jobs, but you only have one family.

Thais Take Care of Elderly Parents – There is never a thought about putting elderly parents in a home (they don’t really exist much in Thailand), or having someone else take care of their parents.

It is just a given in Thailand that elderly parents will be taken care of by their children, and their children won’t even feel remotely inconvenienced by it. In fact, in many cases, they will likely enjoy it.

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There is Little Privacy in Thai Families – Thais will all live in one house with their family with little need for privacy or alone time. In fact, Thais usually prefer to be with people than alone.

In many families too, even some middle class families, all members of the family will sleep in one room.

Even grown-up children who are married and go to visit their parents, will often sleep in the same room as their parents and brothers and sisters, along with their spouse.

Thais don’t fear physical closeness like westerners often do. In fact, they love it.

Thais Will Have Careers Their Parents Want Them To Have – Even if it means abandoning the career they really want, if their parents think they should study accounting in university and be an accountant, the majority of Thais will do so.

Again, it goes back to being grateful to parents for raising them and having high respect for those older than them. If that means having a career they wouldn’t choose for themselves, that’s fine.

Unlike westerners, Thais feel they may not be happy in their jobs but they will be happy with their family, and their family will be happy with them. You annot buy that feeling with gold.

Overall, Thais are closer to their families than westerners will ever be, and are quite happy to be so. They don’t feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about this extreme closeness or make excuses for it, in fact they embrace it.

For the most part, being this close to their families and having such strong family values makes Thais much happier and more secure people. For that, you cannot fault them.