Thai family expectationsDo you really know what Thai family expectations are?

The other day I was talking to a very good friend of mine. She is a bar girl and has been for a good few years. She is friendly, polite and knows the score here in Pattaya. So we were chatting away and I noticed that she wasn’t her normal happy self and seemed not only down, but also very agitated. I asked her what was wrong and why she seemed the way she was? This was probably the most educational hour of my life as she explained in great depth, what was wrong and her predicament.

So, lets all be clear about this. I would be quietly confident in saying that no girl every grows up thinking “hey when I get older I want to work in a bar”. In fact I would say the thought never crosses their minds. However, as the girls do grown up, so do the Thai family expectations. Unlike in the Western world where generally it is the parents who take care of their children. Here in Thailand it is the other way around, and the increasing demands from the parents are for their children to take care of them.

pic-jim-thompson_farm_pak_thongjimthompson2So there I am sat listening to my friend pour her heart out about here situation. She has a fair size family, mother, father, grandmother and two children in tow, not to mention all the Aunt’s, Uncles, nephew’s and niece’s. Now, as with so many families, her parents have some land that they grow rice in. Her other remaining family members help out and do odd jobs here and there and tend to survive day by day. So when my friend was younger she fell into the whole Thai BF trap, had a relationship, he was a drunk and lazy layabout, and yes you know, she fell pregnant. Was she to blame or is the lack of real education at fault as for her it was just normal life. Needless to say things didn’t work out with her BF. However, fast forward 18 months he comes crawling back out of the woodwork and guess want, she falls pregnant again. yes crazy and perhaps stupid, but remember, we all make mistakes and she make hers!

With two kids to feed and pressure from her family to earn money, she set off to Bangkok to try to find work there. She was successful and indeed managed to find a job working in a factory. You may think that was the end of her problems, whereas sadly, it was just the beginning! The money she earned was sent back home to take care of her family, leaving her with little money to survive. Things were OK, not great but she was doing as well as she could. So next came a demand from her parents to send them money as they wanted to build a new toilet in their wooden house. She couldn’t earn any more money than she was already earning with her job, so she was in a difficult situation. She was young and under immense pressure to provide for her parents, and it was at that stage of her life she decided to try working as a waitress in a bar.

Thai family expectationsTips were good and money was sufficient to help provide what was needed for her parents renovations. But that was just the start of their demands. Especially as she managed to find the money, it was almost as if her parents felt their daughter could provide for anything they wished for. As you can imagine, more and more demands and Thai family expectations came her way, which in turn almost forced her into the “bar game” as realistically it was the only way a “farm girl” would manage to fund these demands. So now she is sat in a bar, taking care of customers and sending more and more money home. But as more money is sent home, the expectations increase!

One of the biggest factors is that suddenly parents lose perspective on the reality of money. They want a car, they want to buy land to work, they want to have this and that. Yet the money they earn from their land etc they somehow use and still need more money? So the situation continues and the demands on her to provide increase, time and time again. One of the biggest problems is the word “NO”. This is a frowned upon word as parents seem to just assume or are ignorant to the situation, that their daughter will find the money. She cannot say no to them as this is not the Thai way! I could carry on writing more and more about her situation, but I think you understand what I am getting at.

The girls work in bars to earn as much money as they can. Mostly the money gets sent home and demands increase more and more. Take time to reflect on how you would deal with being in this situation and how would you cope with Thai family expectations?