Should Adult Children be Required by Law to Care for Their Aging Parents?

Today, I read an article about an amendment to a law in China that has been on the books for a while. The original law says that people are required to visit or keep in touch with their elderly parents. If they don’t they could be sued by their parents for failing to provide emotional support. The purpose of the amendment seems to be to raise awareness of the issue – that children are not doing enough for their aging parents.

The amendment says that the children of parents older than 60 should see them on a daily basis, and that their financial and spiritual needs should be met, as well as the emotional support that was the basis of the original law. One woman said the only time she sees her two sons is once a year at a family reunion. She noted that the Chinese raise their children to take care of them when they are old. That is the expectation of older Chinese, but those who are younger apparently don’t agree with that belief.

I’m wondering:

  1. How responsible are adult children for their aging parents?
  2. Should there be a law or at least some type of guideline as to the care adult children should be required to give their parents?

The article noted that young adults who don’t want to cooperate with the new amendment probably won’t. Times are changing in China as they are in the rest of the world. Families often live long distances from their parents and don’t have a way to help care for them.

  • Is caring for aging parents, especially physically, financially, and emotionally, something that should be required or should we leave it to the discretion of the individual family members?
  • Is there an organization such as AARP that should set guidelines hoping that adult children would become aware of the need to stay in touch with older family members?
  • As our population ages, should we consider getting the government involved by creating laws that would require family members to care for their elderly parents?

I can’t imagine we in the United States would enforce laws that required adult children to care for their parents or else they would face some kind of punishment. I really don’t see that happening. But, is there some way an organization or government entity might come forward and assist the elderly through encouraging or even requiring adult children to do more for their loved ones.

As our population ages, this subject could become a hot topic debated for years. While caring for aging parents is a responsibility that children should voluntarily take upon themselves, I don’t know that they should be forced to by law, or that the government should get into the act.

What do you think? I would love to hear your opinion on this controversial topic now raging in China.



4 thoughts on “Should Adult Children be Required by Law to Care for Their Aging Parents?

  1. Rita, I agree. Too many seniors are left to their own devices because their adult children don’t want to be bothered. For one thing, it is unsafe. For another, aging seniors have every right to expect that they will be cared for and treated with respect. Thank you for your comments.

  2. I agree whole-heartedly with your comments. I believe it is placing seniors in a dangerous situation. For some reason, many people think that the elder no longer has an opinion, but they really do. I know my father does. 😉

    Working together to ensure the safety and care of the elderly among us is the best way to protect them in my opinion.

    Thanks for leaving a detailed comment – its very much appreciated.

  3. I don’t think there should be a law; I think this should be common sense and something that an adult child would want to do. After all our parents took care of us!

    It is sad when adult children abandon their parents, this is happening all to frequently.

    What has happened to our generation of people that this is even having to be discussed?

    This world is becoming to disposable. Think about it! Almost everything we buy these days we expect to replace it again in the near future.
    How many cell phones have you gone through? How many flat screens do you own? How often are you upgrading?

    The world needs to slow down and look at what is really important and look at what is not replaceable.

    Take care of our parents. We only get one chance and one set of parents.

  4. I think this approach is dangerous. You cannot enforce positive contact between people who do not wish to have contact. People who do not see their parents might have very good reasons. Also, it might be mutual. Maybe they simply don’t get along. If I was elderly and had a daughter or son who does not want to see me, then I would not want them to be forced to come see me. If they don’t want to be with me, they should stay away. Elderly people do have their pride, I cannot imagine that anybody would want forced contacts to their children.
    Forcing people together, who do not get along may result in very frustrating contacts, it will inevitably bring stress and annoyance to both sides, it may even result in abuse. Governments should facilitate socializing for elderly by improving affordable public transport (particularly in rural areas), and by funding organisations that address loneliness, supply clubs and meeting points where elderly can make friends and choose their own acquaintances, rather than forcing them on their children. Give them increased internet access and educate people how to use technology like social media, so they can get in touch/stay in touch with others without having to leave the house. Organize weekly events where elderly can meet people in town. And even more important: ask elderly what they want. I’m sure the majority would not want forced contacts with their offspring. There are lots of things that can be done to address loneliness other than forcing relatives together

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