March 22, 2011

The Law of Honoring Thy Parents

Justin Katz

It seems to me that this, which I spotted in the no-longer-available-to-print-subscribers-online National Review "The Week" feature in the February 21 issue, likely misses most of the good things that an expectation of respect for one's parents can inculcate in a society:

Oldsters in today's China too often go neglected by their busy, ambitious children. ... China now has the world's third-highest elderly-suicide rate. What to do? Pass a law! The nation's Civil Affairs Ministry is pushing legislation that will require adult children to visit their elderly parents regularly. Unvisited parents will have a right to sue the kids.

Where the culture is inactive, I suppose, the law will invade. Operating under guilt at least requires an acknowledgment by progeny that they owe something to their progenitors. I'm not so sure that visits performed under threat of legal action will have the beneficial effects desired for the elderly, or their children.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

"The nation's Civil Affairs Ministry is pushing legislation that will require adult children to visit their elderly parents regularly."

Sheesh. Leave it to the dictatorial gov't of China to come up with such an idea.

Presumably, this is yet another idea out of Beijing that entrances the NYT's Thomas "China-has-a-reasonably-enlightened-dictatorship" Friedman.

Posted by: Monique at March 22, 2011 7:03 PM

In a google search I found the "Law of the People's Republic of China on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly", which is the law that would be amended to add the mandatory visitation provision noted in the post. See

"This Law is enacted in accordance with the Constitution to protect the lawful rights and interests of the elderly, develop the undertakings related to the elderly and promote the Chinese people's virtues of respecting and providing for the elderly."

We have long passed the point where we need to legislate protection of the elderly from their own children in this country. Instead, we have medicaid rules that have encouraged the most greedy among us to strip their parents of their property, ostensibly to make them "medicaid eligible", but really to sell the family home out from under them and take from them what they have saved for their old age. Those assets will be better used by the 50-something kids for that new SUV, granite counter-top kitchen, and/or trip to Cancun. Don't want father to use it all up staying in his own home and leave us nothing. Nope, we aren't going to wait until they die, we want it now! No need to worry about mother, she will be in the nursing home, courtesy of the US taxpayers. The greedy children start early on the parents to transfer the assets, they are savvy to the 'look back' periods.

I used to assume that my generation all felt like me and my siblings - honor thy father and mother, the way we saw our parents respect and care for our grandparents. Our parents' home and savings are to be used for their enjoyment, comfort and care for all of their lives. If they can't live alone, there are many options, the first of which is they come and live with us, and we provide. For those elders who lack assets, we have the medicaid program, supposedly the safety net for those less fortunate.

The legislation of obligations in a society is not new nor is it limited to dictatorships. We are legally obligated to provide care for our children, and our dogs. We are legally obligated to pay for medical and other care rendered to our spouses. We are legally obligated to pay income taxes that support elderly people in nursing homes, even those whose children took everything they owned and then put them on the dole. The list is long of legal dictates that govern areas of our lives that we might think are private.

I wouldn't mind seeing it dictated that any child(ren) who attempts to take or who does take the parent's assets while they are alive, where the parent would be rendered impoverished or is thereafter supported by medicaid, will be legally obligated to pay for all of the parent's housing and care for the rest of the parent's life. And a lien goes on that child's property, to be sure they pay. When respect, feelings of duty and even guilt are gone, dictates may be all that are left.

Posted by: riborn at March 22, 2011 9:02 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.