Saran and I grew up with some Cambodian tradition and culture in the US and as we got older we wbecame agaisnt a few of them.
After seeing our family, there are still things I'm against but understand a bit more after seeing it on this end. We were lucky to had grown up with parents less strict than other Cambodian parents in the US. The Cambodian culture is still very old fashion. The women and children do all the household chores, cook and clean and serve the men. My mother often told my sisters and I how we would not be suited for wives since we were tomboys. Instead of cooking and cleaning and acting as servants, we played outside: 'kick the can', football, etc., with the boys. We were barely tweens when our mom talked to us about getting married. She said girls in Cambodia get married as early as twelve years old. The idea was crazy for my sister and I, because we were just kids. Though what my sister and I noticed through our cousins and thier neighbors, the kids here are a lot more mature at a younger age and their minds seem to grow up a lot quicker. My sister and I get thrown off when we see a little girl speak with adult language and vocabulary and how their mannerisms are. Their mindsets at 12 years old seems a lot more serious than Saran and mine put together.
It becomes difficult to joke around and wonder if they would understand our sense of humor. The men absolutely does, though the women and girls are questionable and just too serious sometimes.
Our older aunt from my mother's side has no husband or children. Saran, who never wants to marry looks up to this aunt a lot. Though all our Cambodian family members feel bad for her. She is all skin and bones and looks almost more like she can be our grandmother than our aunt. It seems that in Cambodia, without a husband to reproduce children you wouldn't have food on the table since there aren't any kids to continue the work and bring income. Also, you cannot have children without a husband, or you'll get frowned upon.
My mom and dad visited her home in Moung. Unfortunately, I was sick with a 24 hr flu and did not make it out. Saran stayed behind to accompany me. My mother told me how it small it was and how poorly built it was. Our uncle and cousin's home is considered well-off. My aunt is no where near, according to my mother. Her eyes had tears when she talked about her sister. A couple sniffles and a few blinks later she changed the subject. Emotions is also something you keep.
So as much as Saran and I have the choice in the US to be independent women and be able to support ourselves. In Cambodia, it's a choice of survival.