Why Chinese People Need Face Between Family Members?

Chinese Mother and Son

The Chinese concept of face is something that I struggle to understand sometimes. It seems to create so much pressure on people when they always have to keep in mind what others are thinking about them. In the mind of Chinese people my boyfriend is a bad guy. He is really eager to work and make money in order to have a comfortable life, but also to gain face. In China there seems to be no point to have money if you don’t show it off to others.

What is surprising to me is that how important face is even between family members. I was talking about Chinese new year with my boyfriend and he said that there is no point for Chinese guy to go back home during the holiday if he doesn’t have any money to give to family members. Also a Chinese boyfriend of my Western friend confirmed this and says he isn’t successful enough to go home to celebrate the spring festival.

Where is the importance of family and the closeness of relatives? I though the main point of the most important festival in China is to spend time with your family. When did money become greater than love inside a family? There must be many things about the concept of face that I don’t understand. But recently I’ve begin to wonder why Chinese people have to remember their face even in front of their closest family members?

In Finland our biggest holiday is Christmas where we gather together with our family, eat well and exchange presents. No matter how badly I would have messed up my life, I’m always welcomed back home. Actually in Finland it is quite common that young people and students visit home when they don’t have any money. To go back home where their mother will cook their favourite food and give them some pocket money. Of course for some people this becomes a nasty habit and they don’t learn how to take care of them selves. Or rich parents give everything to their kids not considering the negative effects.

I would really like to understand the importance of face to Chinese people, so I would love to hear about your experiences and opinions in the comments.

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