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Chinese traditions

  1. #1
    Biscuit is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Chinese traditions

    Hello! I’m Australian and my husband is Chinese. Since announcing our pregnancy, my Mother-in-law has become consumed with telling me about Chinese traditions etc.

    She says it’s her role to buy all clothes and linen for the baby, and I shouldn’t (because it’s Chinese tradition for the Mother-in-law to do that). She also says that she should care for the baby while I go back to work…because then she can teach the baby Chinese language and culture. She’s mentioned other stuff…like I should hold off having a shower for as long as possible after the birth…and only drink warm water for the first month (no cold drinks). Also, we have to host a big party when the baby is one month old? She’s also selected the Chinese name for the child “Ding Yong” and says it’s tradition for her to do so?

    I’m not Chinese…and have no intention of following all of the traditions. (Eg; I will be having a shower straight after birth!). But I’m just wondering if Chinese women still follow these traditions today?

    I would like my baby to know about Chinese culture/traditions etc…but am feeling a little bullied by it all and I’m not sure if what she’s telling me is fact or fiction?

    Eg; having a big party only 30 days after the birth sounds like the last thing I want to do. I suggested we wait 6 weeks…but is that unacceptable?

    My husband has been raised in Australia...and doesn't really know all the traditions himself.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Neha is offline Banned
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mid Levels, Hong Kong
    Every culture has their traditions. We have a party on the 6th or 13th day after birth, Women dont go out of home for about 21-40 days except for Drs appointment. Every Culture is different. Asians in particular like that fact that grandparents are involved. What might be considered unbearable interference by some might be for others their way of showing love. If u are uncomfortable with her plans , talk to her. also the fact if u just annonced your pregnancy why panic now wait till your baby comes and see what hapens then.

    Best of luck

  3. #3
    mintycat is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Both my hubby and I are Chinese but we went abroad before we turned 15. My mother is pretty westernised so she never enforced these rules on me. My MIL is not strict either but she is in her 70s and thus wanted me to eat well after I gave birth. I chose to hire a confinement nanny because I believe in some aspects of taking care of my body after the birth. To answer your questions:

    ~ I bought most of my baby's clothes, although I received a lot as gifts. I have never heard that a MIL is supposed to buy the baby's clothes
    ~ I didn't take a shower for the same reason as MayC mentioned. I didn't want to catch a cold but I took baths and used boiled ginger water to rinse my body after the bath. I did this for one whole month. I also rinsed my hair with ginger water after washing my hair.
    ~ We had the one month party for my 2 daughters. This is a long standing tradition. Some families hold it at 1 month, some at 2 months, some at 100 days. It's sort of an introduction of the new family member to friends and family.
    ~ I didn't drink or eat anything cold after I gave birth. I followed this rule for a month or so. I was not forced by my MIL or anyone. The confinement nanny told me and I chose to follow it myself.
    ~ We chose the names of our daughters ourselves, but I understand how some paternal grandparents would want to name their grandchildren. My siblings and I were named by my paternal grandfather (both english and chinese names).

    A lot of my friends follow the eating and drinking rule after giving birth.

  4. #4
    mosmom is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Hong Kong SAR
    hello there! i'm married to a chinese hubby, too (i'm not chinese), and expecting our LO in about 10 days :yeah2

    mayC: i wouldn't say that the baby shower dinner is an absolute MUST for every chinese family. my brother-in-law did it, but he showed up late with the baby and disappeared early, and the mother of the baby didn't show up at all. now, hubby and i are NOT going to do it. my MIL didn't even suggest it. we will, however, accept guests at our house, as, understandably, relatives want to see the baby. another thing she mentioned was that it would be polite to give back a "lie see" with a 20$ bill in it in return to a baby gift. i will personally not do it, but she said she'll prepare some for me to give to the relatives.

    linens/clothes/baby accessoires: we bought everything, and MIL provided a milk bottle, some useful baby clothing and a swaddling blanket. she bought it, however, because she felt like buying SOMEthing for her grandchild, not because she felt that it was her and only HER duty.

    washing after delivery: heard about it from many - very local style - people. but my hubby's family knows what a cleanliness freak i am so here, too, they won't even come with the suggestion.

    taking care of baby: i work in the mornings and a few hours extra, so she has 'announced' that she'll gladly take care of our child during that time. but she's not pushing me to work so that SHE can take control. in fact, i'm a little worried right now that it'll be too much for her and she'll change her mind!

    eating/cooking: i know that, after my delivery, she'll show up more at my place to cook chicken soup and other chinese soups for me. which is fine, and maybe these special foods will really give me some energy back.

    chinese name of the baby: my hubby wasn't greatly interested in it, but me and my family/friends (!) pushed a bit to convince him that it would be a 'good' thing. after all, the child will be half-chinese, and we - my side of the family - simply don't know how to choose one. my sister-in-law, therefore, will give us a few choices according to her numerology/fengshui (?) chart (she's 'calculating' the right items together right now), some names matching with our last name. anything shall be fine for me..

    :Butbut don't get yourself bullied into things, as someone has already mentioned above. your MIL should also remember that her grandchild is half-chinese, and that there is another culture to respect as well.

    good luck!
    Last edited by mosmom; 07-11-2007 at 04:25 PM. Reason: in 10 days, not weeks! haha

  5. #5
    kellyst is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Hong Kong
    ~ never heard of buying clothes and linen the 'duty' of MIL, tho she definitely gets bub a great deal of stuff, everything
    ~ we held our party at 2mths, thought the extra month kept everyone sane, we all agreed to it. we stayed through the whole thing, i think even my parents would flip if i leave early tho. my baby was ultra well-behaved that night tho.
    ~ bathing, i lasted for 2 days i think, my maternal grandmother actually helped me do it at the hospital :p she's quite open. wasn't going tell my MIL BUT i think developed a fever RIGHT AWAY haha.. probably coz i was too paranoid and blow dry my hair too much, raising the temp. too much. i was so freaked out, i thought it was a funny episode. but i've read that the no showers is because it used to be that they don't have steady warm water supply in the old days and you could catch a cold easily, but i guess that doesn't apply now anymore.
    ~ people say ALL women giving birth eats ginger, i can't stand ginger, tried it once on my own choice and vomit it out right away in front of my MIL
    ~ my MIL suggest things but i've also learnt to ignore things when i want to ignore them, and i think she knows she can't push me into anything now
    ~ cold drinks, i didn't drink cold drinks on purpose, but also did not avoid them either
    ~ name, we let paternal grandfathers name the baby, both me and my hubby was named the same way, for Chinese name. we chose her English name

  6. #6
    somebodyfamous's Avatar
    somebodyfamous is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Hong Kong
    I'm half Chinese and we definitely had the full moon party (one month party) although we had it when the girls were 5 weeks old :)

    It was a must and was really a lovely family occasion (the next big Chinese party is your 60th hahaha) and to be honest, it was great to get so many red packets from the elders and to get useful gifts from my cousins. The babies slept through it (swaddled and inside Moses baskets) despite the decibel of noise that a CHinese restaurant plus my relatives hahahahaha

  7. #7
    ELT is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Hi Biscuit

    My husband and I are Chinese.

    The dinner at one-month is a MUST. Don't think it matters if it's held 6 weeks or 4 weeks after birth. Close relatives would expect to be invited. So imagine how they would feel if there's no 'full-moon dinner'. My husband and I instisted it to be informal and invited only around 30 people.

    Never heard of MIL buying the clothes and linen for the baby.

    Duty to care for the baby? My mother certainly didn't think she should be responsible for caring for any of her grandchildren. My MIL never expressed intention or interest in doing so. i guess that depends on the person.

    Name? Well, it is tradition that the granddad (from dad's side) name the child but most parents pick the names these days, UNLESS the family has a 'jok-po' to follow. It is a book containing names of existing family members under the same last name. It also specify names of future decendents. It could be seen as disrepect to the ancesters to not follow the 'jok-pol' if one exists. -- we don't have a 'jok-po' and we picked our boys name. My FIL didn't care less about the name as long as it bears his last name. My baby is his first born grandson.

    My mother (along with my MIL and my sis-in-laws) did tell me not to shower and wash my hair in the first week. And the hair should be washed with ginger juice to clear the wind otherwise would have headaches and arthritis. I took a real nice shower and washed my hair as soon as I could get off the bed on my own (I had a c-section). Quite a few of my chinese girlfriends did not shower nor wash their hair the first week. They wiped themselves to stay hygiene. I can confirm that I did not have any infection as a result of the shower. I don't feel any less healthy than I was before.

    Is the baby your MIL's first grand child? Is your hubby her first / only boy? she's probably just very excited about being a grandma. And she is using 'tradition' as an excuse to get more involved in her grand child's life... if I were you, i would acknowledge her views so she feels that I have listened and valued her input. I cerintainly wouldn't do anything I don't feel comfortable with. But I would compromise on unimportant things like 'full moon dinner'. If she wants to buy the baby some clothes, why not. If she wants to cook for me some nutritious soup, even better.

  8. #8
    AndreaY is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Hong kong
    I am Chinese, but educated in UK with western educated parents also, so I do not believe in the traditional Chinese pre/post natal eating and drinking restrictions etc. My inlaws however are very traditional and had many suggestions on what not to do, eat or drink. When I had my daughter, I was a little annoyed at first with what they said (cos I think most had no scientific basis and have been passed down from a time when things were generally dirty and unhygenic and required those precautions).

    However, I realised that they only tell me those things cos they cared about the welfare of me and the baby. I just followed it whilst they were around, so they felt that the "best" way was followed. If your mil does not live with you, I would say that to make everyone happy, just pretend to be following what she says when she is around. Afterall, she does not know what you do, eat or drink when she is not there.

    BTW, my mil is very traditional, but she never insisted to buy all the bed linen and clothes. But if she feels to do so, maybe you can go with her to choose, so you do not end up with stuff you do not like or want. Also the 1 month celebration, it is no longer a "must" nowadays, most of my friends did not hold such banquets. I did have an afternoon tea at home for friends and family so everyone got to see the baby. If you think it's too much to cope with at 1 month, but your mil still insists, I also have friends who did the 2 month/100 days celebration instead and that maybe an option to consider.

    I did have ginger chicken rice for a few days and tried to rinse off with ginger water after shower only cos my mil spent time cooking the rice and drying the ginger peel for the water. Personally, I dun think it does anything, although I have friends who swear by its effectiveness. I am now 6 months pregnant and definitely will not be doing it again this time round. I still remembering complaining to my hubby about having the same food very meal and I made him eat it with me. In the end, we could only endure it for a few days.

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