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Home› Cultures› Cambodia› Cultural Differences› Family Structures

Family Structures

Cambodian Culture American Majority Culture

Family is the foundation of the Khmer social structure. The nuclear family has strong ties to the extended family to include cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and close friends.

Non-biological relatives may be considered part of the family due to extreme losses from war. (Rhode Island Department of Public Health, 2005).

The family unit is very diverse but, generally, it tends to be small and nuclear for the most part. Family members such as the grandparents, parents and other relatives may live in different parts of the country.

Children are brought up as an integral part of the family unit and are expected to contribute to the overall welfare of the entire family.

Children are not expected to contribute to the welfare of the whole family.
Children are indulged and welcomed. They participate in most adult activities. Obedience is highly valued. Children have separate activities from the adults.
Adult children are expected to live at home until marriage. Adult children are encouraged to leave the nuclear family and become independent before marriage.
Interpersonal relationships are important. Family, kinship and friendship, all play a major role in both social and business interactions. Individualism is encouraged. Self-reliance and independence is encouraged. Interpersonal relationships are a lower priority than merit in business interactions.

Placing elderly relatives in nursing facilities is unusual. Elders are revered and frequently consulted on important matters.

It is common practice to place frail elderly relatives in nursing facilities.
Allegiance to superiors is important in work interactions. Merit is important in business interactions.
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