Family is a very important part of
Cambodian life and society. It is the basic unit of living. Family
is where life ends and begins with Cambodians, it’s where
they find their greatest rewards and feel the deepest joy. Although
this is true, couples do not show public displays of affection,
(even if you’re married) it is simply frowned upon.
Education for children in families is
even more important than the family unit itself. Parents scrounge
up every single cent they can just to send their kids to school.
If they just don’t have the money to cover schooling, the
kids are forced to temporarily quit but it is still imperative that
they finish their education. There’s such a stress on education
because, unlike the west, it determines whether or not you’re
acceptable in society, (cities) rather than just a means of securing
a financial future.
As boys and girls grow older they are
equipped with the basic "Cambodian" skills. Boys learn
how to fish and farm rice by accompanying their fathers to the fields.
Girls will learn how to cook, clean and harvest rice from their
mothers. When they get old enough to marry, they’re allowed
to pick their partners but it’s ideal for them to agree to
an arranged marriage. It is not, however, frowned upon if they choose
not to be in an arranged marriage. But it is also possible for parents
to choose which guys the girl is allowed to date. So the girl still
gets to choose her groom, she just chooses from a smaller selection.
The elderly Cambodians spend most of
their time just relaxing and engaging in some kind of religious
activity. They’re also considered the wisest of a family and
their wishes are always heeded. When they get too old to take care
of themselves, it is customary that the eldest child becomes the
Usha. Beyond the Killing Fields (Voices of Nine Cambodian Survivors
in America). Stanford California: Stanford University Press, 1993.