Then there is the issue of immigrant parents new to a country far more liberal in its attitudes toward the issue than the one of origin. How does their influence on children’s attitudes toward dating and marrying differ from those of other families? All of these factors provide an interesting backdrop for discussion of family influence on matters of dating and marriage. The conclusion must be that family structure, customs and values have a sometimes mild, sometimes strong influence on personal choices one makes regarding interpersonal relationships, including marriage. Many cultures of origin can be studied. A good place to look at familial influence in dating, marriage and partner choice is within the Chinese-American community, for which marriage is viewed as intrinsic to the perpetuation and survival of family itself. Its influence in this regard is strong, although old ways of parents choosing partners has given way in the U.S. to more personal choice. Within the Chinese-American community authoritative rearing practices are still quite common and undoubtedly have great influence over personal choices. In studying adolescents [which includes individuals to age 20] Gorman citing Baumrind describes such parenting tactics as control oriented, evaluative of behavior and attitudes “in accordance with a set standard of conduct…” (p. 1) that directs all activities. Assessing this custom, still very prevalent in Chinese-American families, it is clear how parental control of friendships and associations as positive or negative would evolve into similar control of activities including dating and marriage. While attitudes are somewhat flexible among the Chinese, there is undoubtedly a strong tendency to discourage dating and early marriage as detrimental to attaining a good education seen as the primary vehicle to achieving social status. (Gorman 1). Indicating increasing flexibility in the Chinese-American community, Gorman’s study indicates while most [mothers] were opposed to children dating [even one with a son age 20], many recognize peer influences to which their children are exposed and simply “hoped their children would not [date]” (p. 1), considering the practice a distraction from studies. A significant proportion of Chinese-American children follow their parents’ wishes, indicating that family influence, though more subtle than rigidly authoritarian, has its effect in the form of statistics indicating Asian-Americans in general as high educational achievers. Chinese-Americans, along with other educated groups, marry later, a by-product most likely of parental influence in the form of discouraging serious dating during the years of education. One mother even said she encouraged her son not to seriously date until he finished graduate school. (Gorman 1) Taking traditional Chinese arranged marriages into account, which are undoubtedly less prevalent to day in Chinese-American families than in some other immigrant cultures, such strong influence must be judged within the context of attitudes toward marriage itself. Jain provides an interesting perspective and equates the custom with current dating and matchmaking practices. Citing a father’s ongoing search online for the “
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Full and Number Date Family Influence on Personal Relationships: Dating, Marriage and Alternative Lifestyles Should is one of the most significant words in the English language. To what extent, if any, should the influence of parents and family have a bearing on the decisions children make about dating, marrying or choosing alternative personal lifestyles is a relevant and important question in today’s rapidly changing society…
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