One of the best ways to view Vietnamese culture is to look at the system of yin and yang. On one side you have the yang the more male side that has more of a fondness towards hierarchy where the father or the eldest male is the leader of the family with conventional rules to follow depending on their social roles. On the other hand you have the yin moving towards human equality, female contribution, and more of an emphasis on feelings. Yin and yang are the basis for Vietnamese family life and even government policy. .
The family plays a central role in Vietnam. It is the most important factor in society and the center of religious life. The Vietnamese family has been strongly shaped by Confucianism, which regards the family unit as the blueprint for the state and as the highest point of reference of individual loyalty. .
The most responsible role within the family is traditionally demanded of the eldest son. He is obliged to care for his parents throughout his life. He usually remains living in his parents’ house. After the death of his father, the eldest son takes over the role of the head of the family. Besides his other duties, this means above all that the eldest son must ensure the continuation of the ancestor cult. Vietnamese life is profoundly influenced by ancestor worship. .
Children learn at a very early age that they owe everything to their parents and their ancestors. Doing well in school and working hard honors one’s parents and the family name. Respect for parents and ancestors are extended to all elders, whose life experiences are valued.
Before the late 1800s, nearly all the people of Vietnam lived in villages, and the cultivation of wet rice was the principal economic activity. The basic component of rural society was the family, composed of parents and unwed children. As in China, however, extended family relationships were also important. In many cases, extended families lived together.