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Should modern parents give a dowry?

Update: February, 13/2015 - 09:58

Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers about whether Vietnamese parents should give their daughter a big dowry - money and/or valuable jewelry - as a token of parental love and also financial support as she leaves to set up her home elsewhere.

Here are some of the readers' comments.

Erika Hien, Australian, HCM City

Dowries should be a private and personal decision made between the two families. A dowry should depend on the family of the bride's financial circumstances and SHOULD NOT be seen as a public display of wealth or a social obligation.

It is not and never should be about showing off in public. Keep it private. Do not boast with others about your dowry.

Regarding the estate tax, people are already paying income taxes and therefore they should not be taxed twice through the estate tax; it's a "double dipping" tax.

Le Xuan Hong, Vietnamese, Ha Noi

When I got married, which was 10 years ago, my parents just gave me enough money to organise a small wedding ceremony. That was the best effort they could make. Yet we, both my husband and I, felt content, without complaint and had no need to compare to what other friends of ours got from their parents.

At the wedding ceremony, my father said, "My children, all I gave you was a good education. I believe the young couple can and will overcome all the difficulties of life with just this and love".

And he was right. Through our tireless efforts and our love for each other, we have managed to make a home in H Noi with three cute children. We were also able to financially support both my and my husband's parents and built them nice homes. I have a good job at a famous company with quite a handsome salary.

From my experience, I don't think a big dowry can really help daughters have a good life and a bright future, that is totally dependent on their own efforts. Therefore, the best that parents can give their daughters is the opportunity for a proper education and good health.

Fit and well-educated children will understand the value of such a meaningful "dowry." More importantly, they will do the same for their future children.

Robert Fries, American, Texas, USA

The Vietnamese tradition seems reasonable if limited to a token of parental love, but giving a daughter a large sum of money and other forms of wealth seems materialistic indeed.

I think it would be better if children are taught to be independent and to rely on themselves rather than be dependent upon their family.

Can any form of wealth be meaningful if not earned?

Abdul Majid, Malaysian, Kuala Lumpur

In Malaysia, some parents give sums of money or valuable things to daughters when they get married as a present. It is not a mandatory practice in each family and the value depends on their wealth status.

Personally, I think people should not prioritise or set any standards for the amount of a dowry. The most important thing is sincerity - to love each other and to live within our means.

Lynne, tourist

I think the best dowry parents could give daughters would be good health and education. My dad told me that rather than giving me a fortune in cash, he would rather spend it on education fees.

What I got as a "dowry" was an overseas Master course, and I am happy about it. No matter what parents give their daughters, how they use it is what matters!

Duong Vu Hoang Anh, Vietnamese, Thailand

In my opinion, it doesn't matter what the value of the dowry is. If the parents are poor, the dowry is likely to be little. If they are rich, what the daughter receives may be huge. What matters is how much the parents can and want to give away.

What brought the issue of big dowries, like the noted one in Dong Nai province, under the public eye was actually the parents' "materialistic" way of bestowing the dowry on their daughter.

Netizens are too busy criticising to realise that the dowry is the family's affair, which means that it is the family's business and no one has the right to tell them what's the right thing to do.

Big dowries do not kill traditional values or violate the law on their own.

I would just like to say, rich families should not show off their big dowries despite their love for their daughters, especially since the news spreads very fast nowadays. — VNS


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