Vietnamese family life

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By tradition, the head of the Vietnamese family (Vietnamese: gia đình or nhà) is the husband, named gia trưởng. Many families which have the same origin compose a "line of the blood", called đại gia đình or gia tộc or họ. The head of a đại gia đình is the man who is at the highest status in the đại gia đình, named tộc trưởng. According to the Vietnamese creation myth, all Vietnamese people descend from two progenitors Lạc Long Quân and Âu Cơ.

Kinship system[edit]

Nine generations (Vietnamese: thế hệ or đời) are recognized in terms, including:

Kỵ (Kỵ ông/ Kỵ bà) : my great-grandparents' parents (my great-grandparents' father/mother)

Cụ (Cụ ông/ Cụ bà) : my great-grandparents (my great-grandfather/great grandmother)

Ông bà : my grandparents (my grandfather/grandmother)

Cha Mẹ : my parents (father/mother)

Ta/Tôi : I

Con (Con trai/Con gái) : my children (my son/daughter)

Cháu (Cháu trai/Cháu gái) : my grandchildren (my grandson/granddaughter)

Chắt (Chắt trai/chắt gái): my great-grandchildren My great-grandson/great-granddaughter)

Chút (or Chít)(Chút trai/Chút gái): my great-grandchildren's children (my great-grandchildren's son/daughter)

Usually, there are three generations are in co-residence, called tam đại đồng đường.

Horizontally, there are brothers/sisters that share our same parent, named anh chị em ruột and cousins who share the same grandparents, named anh chị em họ. The adopted brothers/sisters are anh chị em nuôi. The half-brother/sisters who share the same father but different mothers are anh chị em dị bào and the half-brothers/sisters who share the same mother but different fathers are anh chị em đồng mẫu dị phụ. The husband of the sisters are anh/em rể and the wife of the brothers are chị/em dâu. The brothers/sisters of the husband are anh chị em chồng and the brothers/sisters of our wife are anh chị em vợ. Two men whose wives are sisters are anh em cọc chèo and two women whose husbands are brothers are chị em dâu.


There are three types of fathers (Vietnamese: tam phụ) and eight types of mothers (Vietnamese: bát mẫu).

  • Tam phụ are:

Thân phụ: our blood-father.

Giá phụ or cha dượng or cha ghẻ: our mother's present husband

Dưỡng phụ: our adopted father.

  • Bát mẫu are:

Đích mẫu: our father's official first wife.

Kế mẫu: our father's wife who replace the position of kế mẫu in case that kế mẫu has died.

Dưỡng mẫu: our adopted mother, does not belong to our family.

Từ mẫu: our adopted mother, belonging to our family.

Thứ mẫu: our blood-mother who is an official non-first wife.

Giá mẫu: our blood-mother, who has remarried after our blood-father died.

Xuất mẫu: our blooded mother, who has divorced or separated from our blood-father.

Nhũ mẫu: our wetnurse (i.e. an unrelated woman who breastfed them)

Children must follow their parents' instructions and accept their restrictions. This principle is named đạo hiếu.


See also Traditional Vietnamese wedding

An engagement ceremony usually takes place half a year or so before the wedding. In the past, most marriages (Vietnamese: hôn nhân) were arranged by the parents or extended family, and while children were sometimes consulted, it was nearly always the parents' final decision. It was not unusual for the bride and groom to meet for the first time at the day of their engagement. However, in the last few decades, Vietnamese women and men marry based on love rather than arranged marriages.


A Vietnamese name consists of three components, họ, tên đệm, and tên gọi.

Họ is the name of the person's line of blood.

Tên đệm is the person's middle name.

Tên is the person's given name.

Personal pronoun[edit]

Vietnamese personal pronouns are formed according to the position of the speakers and listeners in their families.


Vietnamese nuclear families usually live together in the same house. Matured and married children cannot live independently without the permission of their parents. Therefore, in Vietnamese language, the word for house: nhà also means family.

See also[edit]


  • Vietnamese book: "Nếp cũ- Trong họ ngoài làng- Ta về ta tắm ao ta- Phong tục xưa đối với phụ nữ Việt Nam' (Author: Toan Ánh).