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In Beijing, there was a proposal by the Civil Affairs Ministry to China’s State Council to require adult children to regularly visit their elderly parents. If they do not, parents can sue them.

This is a harsh law. Harsh, I think even by Chinese standards.

There is no doubt that we need to give our elderly more care and attention. And in China where the world’s third highest elderly suicide rate, trailing only South Korea and Taiwan (according to the World Health Organization) it can be said that the elderly have been taken for granted by the modern and more urbanized generation.

There is the irony in this because the more educated and established we become, the farther we move away from our traditional family values. Values of respect, empathy, sense of responsibility and debt of gratitude.

However, it is hard to accept that parents will be motivated by this law to sue their children for being too busy. Afterall, they have at one time been in the same situation especially when they were just starting their own families.

The Philippines is no exception. And while being family oriented is one of our esteemed values, advancement and innovation in technology and lifestyle caused a deterioration of these values. Those who can afford would rather live on their own and hire someone else to look after their parents. Occasional family visits have been replaced by short calls and text messages. Modernization has made the older generation sadder and more isolated.

While this may be true, I believe that we do not need laws or the threat of prison time to make us do what is essentially a natural responsibility. And personally, I do not think that the government has the right to impose family values. These values are formed through a caring and loving environment. I think that no properly raised child would choose to abandon their parents in their old age.

A child, provided he/she was not abused would take full responsibility for his/her parents. It is the natural way of things and frankly, the right thing to do.

I like to think that we live in a better world. And if it needs a law to require children to reunite with their parents for an unwanted visit, I would rather that my children devote their time doing what they want than be with me with plastic smiles, indifference and boredom.


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