Visit Mom and Dad–or Go to Jail!

11 Jul

Listen up children of aging parents: If you live in China, Mom and Dad could sue you over visitation.

According to BusinessWeek, a new law went into effect in China Monday “requiring people to care for their elderly parents, with provisions calling for children to see them regularly, or at least call on the phone.” And, if they don’t? The law allows the elderly parents to sue in court. In fact, The China Daily reports that “parents whose children live apart from them and fail to visit regularly can ask for mediation or file a lawsuit.”

elderly handsThe China Daily reports that the law is intended to protect the interests of the 60 and over set and carry on the Chinese virtue of filial piety. And, now that many children are working far from home, that virtue seems to be aging right along with their parents. What’s more–since China has enacted a one-child policy in major cities, the number of children able to care for those aging parents is dwindling, too.

Here’s something interesting, though–the law has provisions for those who are unable to visit due to travel restrictions/work. Indeed, the law provides that companies must give employees time-off to visit his/her parents. And, to be fair, there are few specifics in the law–no mention of how often or for what duration chidren must visit.

Still, it’s an interesting law, even if it’s more or less unenforceable. But, more interesting may be why it’s needed. Why must the government mandate how one cares for his/her parents? Is this an indication that China is becoming more “Americanized?” There is mention that there are few retirement communities in China–does this mean there is a market for them? (Note to self: Remind husband to look into that, seeing he’s in the industry).

In my opinion, it’s a shame that a government must step-in and remind children that they are responsible for emotionally supporting their parents. And, I really think that’s just what it is–a reminder, perhaps, for all of us.



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