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