What does migration mean for relations with children and spouses 'left-behind'? Reflections from young married men and women on the move in Vietnam
Catherine Locke, University of East Anglia
Hoa Thi Ngan Nguyen, Southern Institute of Sustainable Development (SISD)
Tam Thi Thanh Nguyen, Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences (VASS)
Whilst newly-wed wives and young mothers have traditionally been ‘tied to the bamboo grove’ in Vietnam, today nearly as many young married women are rural-to-urban migrants as young married men. This shift implies a radical break with conventional expectations of young married women as new daughters-in-law and as the mothers of young children. It is also closely related with changes in the expectations young married men have of their wives and of their own parenting roles. This paper uses qualitative life histories from 80 male and female rural-to-urban migrants in their peak child-bearing years to explore their reflections on the impact of migration on their relations with left-behind children and spouses. The migrants subscribe to social norms of family co-residence and justify their absence in terms of fulfilling their parental or marital roles and actively manage their parenting and marital roles in ways that are strongly gendered.