Adapting To Thai Culture
I’ve been a regular reader of Stickman’s site for almost a year now and to be honest, I’m getting quite annoyed with the constant bitching from Western men about how they have to send money to their Thai partner’s parents.
The following comes from a person who has only travelled to Thailand twice but has developed an addiction for the country and its people to the point that when I graduate with a Bachelor in Education I will be moving there to live for at least
a couple of years, maybe more. Personally I haven’t experienced the need to send money to a Thai girl's family, but from my broad reading on Thai culture I’ve developed an opinion that I need to voice.
Thai culture, and in general Asian culture, obviously has many differences to what we are used to in the West, a fact that I’m sure all of you are completely aware of. But one of them, which I have the utmost admiration of, is how
it is the job of the children to support their parents as they become unable to support themselves as they age, keeping the family unit tight as they geographically become distant. This is the complete reverse in the West as parents spend the
first 20 odd years of their children’s lives setting them up for a successful life while at the same time saving for their retirement. Most Asian countries don’t have the same social security systems as many Western countries do,
so when an adult reaches retirement age they need monetary support to come from somewhere. In the Thai’s case, this is their children, think of them as an investment. They have children and do the best they can to raise them as successful
adults so that when they attain a job they can send money home and collectively support their parents through retirement. And that’s how it is. They need their daughters (and sons) to either be employed in a high paying job, or marry into
a wealthy family, so they can produce this excess income to send back home. This is where the farang comes in.
Western men need to understand the above cultural difference before getting involved in a relationship with a Thai girl, and understand that as part of her family they have a responsibility to look after her parents. I am quite disgusted
when I here about farang’s refusing to send money on a regular basis to their spouse’s parents and then bitching and moaning when their girlfriend / fiancé / wife weasels money out of them with the hidden intention of sending
it back to their parents. But how else are they going to fulfil their role as supporters of their parents, how else are their parents going to survive without this support? But with this in mind there is always the flipside, where the support
expected from the Thai / farang couple overly exceeds that which is necessary to provide a comfortable retirement for her parents.
In all honesty I cannot blame the idea Thais have of all farangs being wealthy. The majority of the ones they meet come into their country with expensive clothes, cameras and accessories and don’t bat an eyelid when paying what an
average Thai would spend on a weeks worth of food for one meal. After a multitude of these experiences of course they would develop an opinion that in many cases may be untrue, but how can they disprove this theory when it’s the only snippet
of a farang’s life they see.
So when a farang enters a Thai girl's life and begins a permanent relationship, of course the parents (and extended family) are going to think they struck gold and have an idea they the excessive amounts of money they demand are nothing
but a dent in the farang’s bank account. And this idea is only made worse after the naïve farang sends those first few large sums of money as dowry for the marriage and payment for the ceremonies.
What needs to happen when a farang decides that this Thai girl is ‘the one’ is to make clear that you are happy to support their parents when they enter retirement or semi-retirement, but to an agreed value that is well within
the boundaries of both your incomes. Let her know that you accept this cultural difference and are willing to meet the needs of her parents, but only to a point that gives them a comfortable retirement relative to other families that do not include
In amongst all of the complaints I’ve read on this site regarding this issue, I’ve also read various success stories involving things like shared bank accounts where all parties must agree on the reason and an amount before
a withdrawal is made, agreements between couples on what is a good amount to send home on a regular, and cases where a farang has entered the family as he normally would in his home country and earned the respect of his in-laws so they meet the
man and not his wallet and don’t make such demands from him. This tells me that it is possible for a Thai / farang couple to come to and agreement on support for the Thai girls parents, it just involves cultural adaptations on both sides,
which undoubtedly takes effort and discussion by all parties. And of course there will be those out there who say they have tried everything and the Thai family still tries to milk them for all they are worth which makes clear to me that this
relationship is not being taken seriously by the Thai girl. In this case I suggest you do as you would in your home countries when a partner does not take your relationship seriously and get rid of her, there are plenty more fish in the sea.
To some, the above may sound ludicrous as why should you have to do something that is not a part of YOUR culture. But to these people I cannot stress enough that your relationship with your Thai partner will only flourish as you begin to
integrate aspects of Thai culture into your own life. And not only the above mentioned. Thai’s are beautiful people and seem to live happy lives despite widespread poverty and malnutrition. Obviously their culture is about appreciating
the finer things in life and I cannot understand why many (not all) farang’s who chose Thailand as they’re home don’t try to understand and immerse themselves in this culture, as opposed to living virtually isolated from their
partners life, family and country.
Perhaps you need a bit more time in country to realise that while you seem to have good intentions, the ideal that you represent is far from the reality.
In the cases of Thai families where the parents really do need support from the children, often there are a few children. So it would therefore be fair for each child to provide an equal amount? And surely, that money should be spent wisely and not pilfered. Unfortunately, money is often squandered on luxuries, alcohol or gambling – and then more is asked for!
Of course, even on a modest income, one can still make plans for retirement, but this doesn't seem to happen a lot – at least with the families one reads about on here. Why should the Westerner have to bail out a family who has made lots of really bad decisions – and will probably continue to do so.
In too many cases, the family asks for ridiculous amounts of money and when it isn't forthcoming, the girl may make noises about leaving the guy. Of course this is going to upset and annoy ANY guy.
I could go on and on about this, but I'll wrap it up by telling you about my mother in law. She grew up in the countryside in a poor village. She has a modest education. She worked hard, very hard in fact, and she now owns a very pleasant property in the city of Korat, and has money put away. She refuses to accept money from any of her children, clearly stating that she wants the best for them. She is not shy to say what she thinks of people who take advantage of their children, which is of course at their children's expense. If she can do it, I do not see why other families can't.