New Chinese law: Children must visit parents

New Chinese law: Children must visit parents

In China, a new law makes it mandatory for children to visit their parents (over age 60), with a fine for those who don’t comply.

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According to the law, children are required to visit their parents “frequently” and make sure their financial and spiritual needs are met.

The new law would be a major reform in safeguarding the rights of Chinese elderly. Coupled with an aging population and a one-child policy, the number of those over 60 is projected to increase. In 2011, some 185 million people were over 60. By 2050, a third of China’s population will be classed as elderly.Chinese tradition dictates that children have a duty to provide for their parents and grandparents. Many generations live together under one roof, with nursing homes a rarity.

Yet, with the increasing modernization of China, the family traditional structure is changing. Many young Chinese are moving away from their rural homes to study and work in the big cities, and live further and further away from their parents.

The law was initiated after reports by some parents that they were neglected by their children. While there is no specification of how often they need to visit, children are subjected to pay a monthly allowance to their parents if the children refuse to care for them.

With the new legislation, parents can even take their children to court, a harsh consequence that a woman from Wuxi City encountered. After a 77-year-old mother sued her child, the Chinese court ruled that the daughter must visit her mother every two months.

Proponents believe that the law will educate and provide family values of the importance for children to visit their parents. While the new law aims to protect the older growing population, there has been much controversy surrounding its adoption.

Critics of the law find it vague and argue that the state should not interfere in how one should take care of their parents. Since the new law came in place, websites offering “rental children” to visit parents on their behalf are popping up.

Do you think a state can force an emotional bond between a parent and child? What do you think of the new law? How often do you think you should visit your parents, or be visited by your children?

Share with us in the comments below your thoughts.


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  • Rob Hoogenbos

    July 18, 2013

    I hope they notified the parents!

  • carol

    July 18, 2013

    I don’t think the state can force an emotional bond between parent and children. You are speaking about a country where emotions are hidden and obedience is commanded, and if the child-parent bond is not there, it will never be. It is sad that even in this country (USA) there is a chasm between parent-child to where abuse is usually seen.
    I blame the the governments interference in the family’s lives have caused a lack of moral support for the family and the fear to discipline their children have caused a lack of disrespect amongst our children to where there is no fear for adults anymore.

  • ColleenTraynor

    July 19, 2013

    Hello CHINA This is good news but should not be forced on Kids today have their own set of issues /problems But yes it can be told in a niceway
    For us well we Parents are truly blessed
    we have three kidsand all share Even their spouses support help them in doing so
    Colleen n Gerald traynor
    Mumbai india

  • shirley simpson

    July 19, 2013

    Can’t force love and duty. I believe in our society the aged are really left on their own to die as so called kids are too busy. Next door had 5 daughters they hardly ever visited because they the parents had become old fragile and probably a bit of naggers. Who cares girls they were your parents well at least they had me up until they died I notice they were soon down to get their inheritance I would love to see them when they get old hope karma comes back..

  • Kathy

    July 19, 2013

    It’s sad to see that these kids now a days can’t bother to take time out of their busy lives to see they’re aging parents and/or grandparents. If they want or need something their right there, if not they put the aging on a bookshelf. Maybe with this law they may learn how to be a real family.

  • Anne Stewart Ball

    July 20, 2013

    In this is a message for all – the importance of families. While I think it would be dIfficult for a Government to impose such a law to enforce children to give moral and spiritual support to parents, I believe this is something that is being eroded worldwide – family values and care. We live in a technical fast moving age with children being scattered around the world to work and study . In my great grandparents day the same movement was happening. They made the effort to write letters and keep up the links. In this age we need to find ways to keep up those family bonds and links across the miles. We have facebook, skype and lots of other technological new tools – but are they used wisely and well. Just as in China, many countries including where I live in New Zealand are facing an increase of the over 60’s. In New Zealand nursing homes abound – quite different from great grandparents day where the families lived together. In NZ we face not forgetting
    ” our olds” in these homes. Remebering as children that our parents living away from the cities where children work, may not be able to get around so easily any more because of age and may welcome a visit from their family they bought up lovingly.

  • Phil

    July 22, 2013

    It is not a case of enforcing an emotional bond, the state is stepping in to enforce a duty that was traditionaly enforced by cultural values alone.

    Should every state do the same ?

    In a world of diverse cultures, moral standards, rapidly changing values and mobile populations it would be very difficult.

    Instilling a sense of Duty and Responsibility in a much broader sense, would however be a better place to start.

  • Vanessa-Ann Dowsett

    July 24, 2013

    Initially one would think it would be a good idea as very often children lead their own lives and their parents can be very low in the pecking order. Unfortunately, this law would, if there is a lone child, prevent him from moving away (and when one considers China is a vast country) to another area for work or leaving the country for work, education or just to live abroad. When one is forced to do something, as this appears to do, there could be resentment for ones parents rather than love and a genuine want to visit. I can see both sides of this but would rather have seen that statute not be necessary.

  • Joy E.

    August 14, 2013

    A Chinese woman told me that her sister took care of their father when he was too old to take care of himself and wouldn’t give him water to drink because he wet his pants too much. He of course was in diapers. Traditionally, children have always taken care of their parents in old age but it’s not always done happily with good care.

  • Dr s s n Rao

    August 14, 2013

    Parents give up everything in their life for the sake of children;I have sent both my children to America so that they can have a better life opportunities,knowing fully well that in my old age I will be physicaly separated from them and thus has to go to an old age home.i have no idea if they will send enough money for my expenses at that time.when there are So many stringent laws in so many countries how the children should be looked after by the parents or else the state will forcibly take them away,it is just human to have a law that children must look after their parents in their old age…..if they cannot be physically present or visit,they should definitely provide enough money so that parents can spend their last days peacefully.let us prove that humans in someway are better than animals.

  • Grady L. Gamble

    August 14, 2013

    I applaud China for taking a bold step. We may not agree with how they do their politics but at least their system is able to truly make strides. And we young adults need to wake up and realize that one day we may need someone to care for us! Our societies, China, US, Russia, Iran, Israel, Cuba, etc. Need to let go of old hang ups and move towards reconciliation and peace. That means DOING SOMETHING YOU DONT WANT TO FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE WHOLE. ON ALL SIDES!!!!

  • Mary J.

    August 15, 2013

    Obvoiusly , you can not force love and emotional commitment. But responsibility can be mandated. I see this as more along the lines of “child support” here in the US. Admittedly, it is not a perfect system but humans are far from perfect. Maybe this law will work in China and wake some to that responsibility. My household includes an eldery parent(87) and a mentally challenged sibling along with our nuclear family of 2 parents and 3 children. I am a little taken aback by how many of our friends are surpized that we would choose to “take in” our family. members.

  • Col R.S Singh

    August 17, 2013

    A practicle step indeed.Family bonding is in the interest of both individual and family and the nation as well.Duty and right go together.If son and daughter can not look after old parents in need then why should others incl govt.Unrest at national,regional and global level is basically because of fragmented family bonding. Even animals stay together and look after each other.

  • Mark

    August 18, 2013

    My Mom lives with us

  • CitizenJP

    August 20, 2013

    This is the same situation in many developing countries where children are moving away from parents in pursuit of a “better life”. Better life mostly consists of eating can food instead of freshly grown food, living in crammed and polluted apartments instead of cleaner and open envioronment, and possessing stuff most of which one could do without. In the name of development we seem to constantly forget that it should be making the quality of our lives better.

  • Nic

    August 20, 2013

    Duty? Responsibility? Kids don’t ask to be born. They are supposed to beads out of love. So it should NOT be their responsibility to take care of their parents in their old age. It is NOT the same as child support. People are required to take care of the children they created. Not the other way around.

    My children are not responsible for me when I grow old. I’d love if they came to see me, but that’s not why I had them. It is my job to make sure that we are taken care of in our old age. No one else’s.

  • AMother

    August 21, 2013

    I disagree with this law. I understand the sentiment, but it leave a huge problem in its wake. What about children who were abused? Physically, mentally, sexually? This law now forces those people to go back to their abusers and take away from their own family. Their children. What about the impoverished? They need that money. They can’t afford to send an allowance, but can be prosecuted if they don’t. I hope this does not continue to spread and become the new norm. If I have not saved up enough to retire, I would rather work than take away from my children and their families. I would rather hire someone to take care of me than to force my children to against their will. This is unfortunate and I feel for all those in China.

  • aChild

    August 21, 2013

    i disagree with this law for three reasons: 1. this is very typical of chinese government — they want to tell you how to live your life, the one-child policy as an example 2. See Nic’s comment. I personally would not command my children to visit me. 3. see AMother’s comment. Children do get abused in china, more often than you might think. I believe children love their parents more than they’re loved by their parents. Whether to choose to visit parents should be a personal (and often times a private) matter.

  • F. Franklin

    August 21, 2013

    This law is only necessary because the government itself has reneged on its promise of free social care. This is the legacy of socialism everywhere; lie to the young, neglect the old.

  • Mary

    August 22, 2013

    I fully support this law! When they were born, their parents took care of them and yet so many people “forget” their parents once they become adults and move out on their own. They OWE their parents some consideration, though in cases where the children were abused, they should be exempt from this law.

  • angel

    August 22, 2013

    I like this law!!

  • Jill Rabbit

    August 22, 2013

    Government should provide for poor, infirm old people. Some children are also poor. It’s easy to say parents are obliged to provide loving care for their children, but some do not. There is little recourse for the children, some too young to understand they are being neglected. But I feel that a most parents deserve to be a priority in their grown children’s lives. Children, distracted by their current lives, may be unaware of the sorrow of parents who are neglected by their children.

  • ChineseMom

    August 26, 2013

    I think that this law will make a positive impact on elder parents’ lives. Grown children will visit their parents more, which will also set up a role model for their own children who are most likely an only child.

  • Englishrose

    August 27, 2013

    If there was a law saying I had to look after my parents it would be make no difference to me because it’s instilled in my values. That’s the way I have been brought up, to be caring and love my family. These values should be taught in schools. I don’t agree with this law at all, I think the government shouldn’t control families, especially because they are so private and every family is different but educating children to respect not only parents but the whole world around them is what will make a difference in the long run.