Filial Piety Becomes Law

Pay a visit to Grandma and Grandpa—or else they’ll see you in court. In China, a new law went into effect on 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. The law is intended “to protect the lawful rights and interests of parents aged 60 and older, and to carry on the Chinese virtue of filial piety,” the official China Daily newspaper reports, and the legislation gives seniors leverage to use on offspring. “Parents whose children live apart from them and fail to visit regularly can ask for mediation or file a lawsuit,” the newspaper says.

Ah, filial piety, something that has ingrained in me since I was a kid. Love your parents. Respect your parents. And most important of all, visit your parents and give them monetary support if they ask it of you.

In China, filial piety is so important that it has actually become law. The monetary support aspect of filial piety is important because government assistance is limited and much of the elderly population depends on family support to get them through their retirement years. And as someone who grew up in an Asian American household and watched my parents support my grandparents and was told I would one day support them too, none of this is really surprising to me. Different cultures have different ways of doing money! (See today’s tanda story.)

Photo: Leo Fung

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6 Comments / Post A Comment

sea ermine (#122)

Does the law still apply if your parents are abusive? Like maybe you moved away to from them and don’t call them to keep yourself safe, are you now supposed to go visit them?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with visiting or caring for your parents, I visit mine regularly and would care for them if I needed to, but they were good parents. I can’t imagine I’d feel the same way if they made my home life unsafe or if they treated me badly.

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

@seaermine Heh, that’s what I asked too!

Mike Dang (#2)

I’m sure there are exclusion clauses in such a law.

sea ermine (#122)

@Mike Dang I wonder how they’re enforced though. Will they have to prove abuse? And to do that will they have to have it in record somewhere, or have to testify against their parents? And how many people would be willing to do that?

Not a criticism of the law (and I apologize if I’m going off topic), I just think it’s interesting to think about the many reasons why someone might not want to (or feel comfortable) visiting their parents.

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