by Thu Hang
Together with the rapid development and modernisation of society, the lifestyles and thoughts of Vietnamese youths are changing.
They are too busy with their work and have no time for their family. They even don't have time to take care of their parents if they are ill.
Nguyen Bao Tram, 75, in Hoang Cau Street, said that she was very sad when she was ill and no one in her family could take care of her.
"I have four children. I am very proud of them because they are all successful people and rich. But I am so sad because my children are too busy with their work and they don't have time to take care of me when I am ill and can't walk," Tram said.
They intend to put her in a nursing home because they can not take care of her every day. Three of her children live abroad and only a son lives in Ha Noi, but he always has business so he doesn't have much time to care for her.
"My children tell me that they are very sad and feel guilty when they put me in a nursing house but they don't know what to do because they live far from me and can't care for me," she said.
"I'm sad but I don't know what to do either. I can't ask them to stay with me while their wives, children and work are waiting for them."
And then her children hired two people to stay with and take care of her because they did not want to send her to a nursing home and sometimes visit her.
In Western countries, old people staying in nursing homes is very normal, but it is not the same in many Asian countries, particularly in Viet Nam. The most important factor in the value system of the Vietnamese is, no doubt, the family.
Our parents cared for us and now, they age, it's natural that we want to care for them.
But life is now changing, and they want to but sometimes they can not do the work they want.
Hoang Luong, a son of Tram, who lives in Germany, said he felt guilty but could not run to mom every day to care for her.
"So with some guilt, I start looking at other options," Luong said.
Tran Ha Thu, a mother of a 15-year-old son, said her son also told her that he would put his parents in a nursing home or buy a house for them in a rural area when they are old.
But Thu thinks that it's the thinking of a teenager, and he is too young to understand what he is saying.
"But if it is true, I have to think about it more," she said.
Tradition is not an important part of the lives of the youths now.
Younger people now enjoy many parts of western culture such as Christmas or rock music.
They choose the activities that suit them. They enjoy Tet (Lunar New Year) with a tour abroad instead of visiting and sitting together to enjoy traditional food like before.
"After working hard for a year, I think my family should relax and enjoy Tet with other activities which will be different from the year before," said Phan Nhu Thao, an accountant of a private company.
She said that she liked Christmas or New Year of Western countries.
In Viet Nam these days, she can enjoy life walking around or going somewhere with her family instead of being busy cooking in a traditional Tet.
That was the lifestyle of youths in the modern society, she added.
Some people now are also worried that the younger generation will forget their history and traditions because many families now tend to send their children to international schools with foreign teachers.
They have little chance to study the mother language, literature, history and traditions of their own country. Instead they will be able to speak a foreign language very well, and have a better chance to attend a foreign university, and maybe their life will be better too.
Le Kim Dung, a mother of a seven-year-old, said she was not worried about that.
Dung's daughter is now studying in a French school in Viet Nam. One third of her daughter's class is Vietnamese people. Everyday, she studies everything in French, speaking in French. She does not know much about the traditional culture of Viet Nam because she is not taught that in school.
Like many families who have children studying in international school, Dung has to buy many Vietnamese book to teach her daughter at home, aiming to help her partly understand about the country where she lives.
"I always try to teach my daughter everything about the traditions of Viet Nam to help her understand more about our country because she does not have access to that in class," Dung said.
"But a person who studies in an international school does not mean she or he does not know or will forget the traditional culture. It depends on each family's education," she said.
"Now I care for my parents but I don't expect that my daughter will take care of me like I do because life is changing and thinking is changing also."
For me, national traditions as well as western culture both are good for people but it depends on each person.
Traditional culture and modern culture are the same because both are ways of thinking, ways of relating to people and to the universe. Both cultures are for people because they are suited to local conditions. — VNS