Visit your parents -- or get sued by them

China cracks down on adult children who may be neglecting or possibly abusing their elderly parents.

By Kim Peterson Dec 28, 2012 1:06PM
Senior woman on wheelchair looking out of window with blinds -- Design Pics, Don Hammond, Design Pics, Getty ImagesIt's always good to visit Mom and Dad. In China, it's now a law.

The national legislature there is now requiring that adult children visit their parents often. Otherwise, elderly parents who feel ignored can sue their kids. Wow, dinner conversations must be pretty awkward in that scenario.

The law is partly a reflection of a cultural change in parts of the developing country. The traditional extended family in China is fading, according to the Associated Press. Historically in many Asian cultures, aging parents and grandparents live with a child or other family member. Sending a parent to a nursing home was just not acceptable -- nor was it affordable for many families.

But that's changing, particularly as China's elderly population rapidly expands. Lately, the Chinese government has seen a growing number of reports of elder abuse. State media carried the story of one son in the well-to-do province of Jiangsu who reportedly forced his elderly mother to live in a pig pen for two years, according to the AP.

Elder-abuse cases in Hong Kong have risen 15% in the last two years, the South China Morning Post reported earlier this year. "Because of Chinese culture, elderly people are reluctant to reveal the disgraceful affairs of their families," the director of one advocacy group, Against Elderly Abuse, told the newspaper.

The new law doesn't say how often children must visit their parents -- and there may not be enough grounds here for any resulting lawsuit. But China now has nearly 167 million people over age 60, the BBC reports. While the law is partially intended to sustain the family unity that may be starting to fray in China, it's also an attempt to ensure that the oldest and weakest members of society are cared for.

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Dec 28, 2012 4:39PM
I wish my kids would just visit once in a while instead of decid
ing to move in.
Dec 28, 2012 2:51PM
May you live long but never need taking take of.
Dec 28, 2012 5:09PM

As an old person , I love the idea of it ! But seriously ?


If you raised your children correctly, then this isnt necessary .


But todays standards are slipping away, selfish children grow up into selfish adults.


Suit will not change that. Its too bad tho.

Dec 28, 2012 3:35PM

I'd like to see some sort of opt out for children who were abused by their parents. Forcing them to not only provide for them if necessary, but to actually visit them, must be he** and makes it impossible to move on and heal from your past.

Dec 28, 2012 5:41PM

When I was a young sailor I was called into the squadron commanders office and reamed up one side and down the other about not writing home.  Now that I'm a great grandpa I realize how much that meant to my parents.

Dec 28, 2012 5:35PM

How sad that their has to be a law. Maybe  there should be one here in the United States. Many of my friends are neglected by their adult children, including myself. I've talked to mine about it, but nothing changed. I don't ever ask for their help or complain about my health, I don't want to be a burden. I know when my mother was alive, we talked

almost everyday, I loved her so very much, I just couldn't imagine being so distant. Life is short...

Dec 28, 2012 4:34PM
This is what happens when the elderly are seen as a burden more than a source of wisdom and advice.  The one child policy in China means that there are fewer younger people supporting an older generation.  The financial burden on the younger generation is taken out on the older by abuse and neglect.  It isn't justified in any way but it is unfortunately human.  The same is beginning to happen here in the US as the older "baby boomer" generation begins to take more and more resources from a much smaller young population.   It happened in France 10-15 years ago when i read about morgues filling up during a heat wave as older people couldn't take the stress of the heat and the younger generation couldn't be bothered to leave the beach long enough to have a funeral.  This is also a product of moral decay.
Dec 28, 2012 5:55PM
I think we are going to have to be like the Golden Girls and help take care of each other.
Dec 28, 2012 6:09PM
Today's kids only visit the grand parents if they think they have been named in the will. Otherwise they aren't to be found. Sad but true.
Dec 28, 2012 5:36PM
My three jealous and uncaring sisters who live 8 hours away won in court against mother, father and me and got "guardian" to put dad against his will in nursing home bed next to mother where his skin quickly broke down and he died 2-6 months early and very badly on "hospice" after trying to escape back home.  This terrified mother.  I had not been allowed to visit her more than 4 one hours in the 7 1/2 months since until I was told by a distant lawyer VA law prevents a nursing home from having "no trespass" for family.  In this country, we do not look death in the face and see how we would really like to be treated and given (what) choices (are left) and that as we adapt we do not "want to die". My sisters said they "would rather be dead than be like Mother" who is total care and aphasic (she knows what she wants to say but cannot usually say it).  No one but the caregivers (who all say it took them a month to be able to communicate with her) have meaningful conversations with her.  The sisters rarely visit (two have once since 9/7/12 Dad's funeral). They talk about instead of to her.  We had 5 lovely caregivers in Chapel Hill from Kenya who all called her "Mother". We are losing out and when we are old we will be very sorry ourselves. Maybe I will look into moving to Kenya.  Meanwhile I cherish every moment I am allowed to spend with my mother, bringing her the delights only a daughter would know are meaningful to her.    
Dec 28, 2012 5:18PM
Someone.   You as a U.S. citizen pay 4 times more for your health care than anyone on the planet and you are 39th in life expectancy.  Crappy Cuba does better than the U.S.   It is not just a Confusian idea but Buddhist also.   The idea being that your parents took care of you as a baby and supported you and now that they can no longer take care of themselves, you are obligated to care for them.   Americans generally do not like this idea since Americans tend to be quite selfish.   Yes, they will give to charity as long as it is a tax right off but to take their time to care for their parents?  No way.
Dec 28, 2012 2:50PM
Hmmmmmm, wondering if I should forward this to our kids ??
Dec 28, 2012 4:22PM
I have a step child living off of us (an occupier). I have another one that does not pay back what he borrows. My child does not come around. Guess who is not going to get!!!!
Dec 28, 2012 7:44PM
Let's get real here.  Not everyone had a loving and supportive upbringing.  My parents gave me NOTHING but food, clothing, and a roof over my head.  I was a farm kid and was worked like a full-grown man and beaten like a dog from the time I was a small child.  I left home at 17 and have taken care of myself ever since.  My parents are now both in a nursing home 700 miles away from me.  It's hard to feel sympathy for your parents when you were never anything to them but free farm labor and a punching bag.  Do I ever visit them?  Rarely.  Do I respect them?  No.  Will I feel bad when the die?  No, just relieved that I turned out to be completely different than them, despite their sad attempt at parenting. 
Dec 28, 2012 3:14PM

OK. I.m not trivializing the state of the senior citizens, but this article is atrocious. It bounces from a law requiring adult children to visit their parents; to an increase in the abuse/neglect of the elderly; back to the law requiring visitation - as if, somehow, those issues are related.


If there is a correlation, perhaps the senior citizens don't want their children around.


EDIT: Oh, and I can just visualize the think-tank  of lawyers that come up with this:

"Hey, I need a bigger boat."

Yea, me too."

"Who can we sue?"

"Hey, there are a lot of senior citizens in nursing homes; let's sue their kids for not visiting them."

"Great idea! AND lets throw in the term 'enough' so that no matter how often they do visit - we'll say it's NOT 'enough'".



Dec 28, 2012 5:10PM
This from a country that kills babies without regard to life - prior to that mandate - killed all females without regard for life - why the change of heart?  just kill the elderly like they do the babies & call it population control. Simple & sadistic - just the way the Chinese have always been. 
Dec 28, 2012 5:06PM

China leads the way!  Great idea; don't let the family-values of American "exceptionalism" infect and destroy your country.

Dec 28, 2012 7:28PM
Sorry...I'm one of those kids that would rather not visit their parents, and I'm 50!  Mom is a bitter old lady who has nothing good to say about anything or anybody.  She argues over everything from politics to where to set the trash can in the street for the weekly pick up.  And let's not mention the grand kids because with my rotten parenting skills, they're nothing but a waste of life in her eyes. I'm there when I'm needed, but to go out of my way and visit because I want to...never.
Dec 28, 2012 5:39PM
but not with my mom.  she wants to be independent and we want her to live with us.
Dec 28, 2012 6:05PM
......mmm..the "Little Emperors" have grown -
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