by To Nhu
How long do you live with your parents? Until you get married or until you believe you ve grown mature enough?
There s a growing trend among single Vietnamese to lead independent lives in big cities such as Ha Noi and HCM City. They choose to rent their own home regardless of objections.
Returning home after 10 years studying in Germany, 35-year-old Nguyen Duc Thang, marketing manager of BIHACO Software Company in Ha Noi, immediately found a unit for himself.
"My friends and my landlady were surprised why I didn t stay with my parents in their spacious house," Thang said.
"My main argument was that I had become used to a freer lifestyle. I can now go out early and return late without bothering my parents."
Thang s decision was opposed by his mother, a retired teacher who believes children should be with parents, regardless of how mature they consider themselves.
"Luckily, I got support from my dad. He said I could live independently after 10 years away from home," Thang said.
Thang s outlook may be considered Westernised, but a similar situation confronted Le Thuy Huong, although she has never lived abroad.
Dreaming of being a sovereign individual, the busy 27-year-old communications officer was determined to move to a separate home.
"I don t really mind that my parents apartment is too small for a family of six," Huong says. "But the clash of viewpoints from different generations made my mind up."
Huong s mum cried a lot when she learnt of her daughter s idea, which she deemed as "crazy". "You can t go until you marry. Do you want to let other people complain your parents can t afford to bring you up? Will any man accept a girl who lives separately?" Huong recalls.
After a month of arguing, Huong s family finally arrived at a compromise. She would rent a unit close to her parents home and return there to have meals and do things under their supervision.
In a country like Viet Nam, where traditional family values are highly respected, stories of young people leading independent lives cause much debate among adults - and even youth themselves.
"Whatever reasons you put forward, it is still a new lifestyle to Viet Nam," Huong said. "Some even say if you live on your own, you must be a spoiled child."
However, Huong said what tormented her most was the clash between her demand and points of view on Vietnamese family values.
"My brother told me that our culture did not allow children to live independently before marriage," she said.
But he replied: "If you do that, you re not dutiful towards our parents."
Nguyen Thi Nhung, an old mother living in Ha Noi, also holds a rather strict opinion.
"A modern life consists of a great deal of temptations and pitfalls. Young people are active and full of aspiration but lack life skills, crucial for them to enter the real world," Nhung said.
Experienced solo liver Thang said every coin had two sides. "Living alone brings you freedom and a sense of initiative, but it s not stable since you have to live in a rented home," he said.
However, he argued that he could benefit by developing good characteristics, such as being independent, decisive and responsible.
According to deputy director of the Social Development Support Centre Vu The Long, traditional opinions hold that an extended family means happiness and prosperity.
He also said that, in the past, when life was difficult, children should be close to their parents for mutual benefits.
"Life is better now, services are mushrooming while children spend more time at their work earning money. Parents need to think again if their unmarried kids want to live separately," Long said.
Nguyen An Chat, director of An Viet Son Psychology Consulting Company, agreed with the new choice made by many young people.
"It s even better for some to live independently as they can do more for themselves or contribute more for society," Chat said. VNS