Chinese parents sue kids for abandonment

Elderly parents in China can sue their kids for not visiting often enough

Chinese parents sue kids for abandonment

As of 1 July 2013, elderly parents in China can sue their children for not visiting them often enough. The law reforms aim to encourage better care of older people, as China’s elderly population is forecast to more than double over the next 40 years.

Traditionally in China children care for elderly parents at home, rather than having them admitted to an aged care facility. But with the one-child policy still firmly in place, the burden of caring for ageing parents has fallen to sole offspring, making this tradition more difficult to uphold, especially in families where children have moved to the cities in pursuit of work.

Yang Youling, head of an aged care centre in QuFu, has said that many children do not visit their parents at all, to avoid being criticised for not caring for them at home. “The children are ashamed of being seen,” she said.

The amended law for the protection of the rights and interests of the elderly will include visitation requirements, and a stipulation that employers approve the leave necessary for children to undertake these visits. The Government has not specified how often these visits should be.

The law prohibits ‘discrimination, insult, ill-treatment and abandonment’ of the elderly, and allows them to seek legal recourse.

To read more about the law reforms in China read this article at The Age


Opinion – Power to the parents

It’s not often I find myself agreeing with the Chinese Government, but I am a fan of the thought process behind this new law. That’s not to say I don’t think people will abuse it – there will always be those who take advantage of the situation – I just think it’s a step in the right direction.

If shame at what others will think is causing children to abandon their parents, then I applaud the Chinese Government for taking steps to reduce the stigma. Caring for elderly parents in your own home is a lovely idea (for some, at least), but it is an outdated one. For most, working full-time is a necessity, not a choice, even with two breadwinners in a household. Staying at home to care for elderly parents is not always an option, which is why aged care facilities were created.

Aged care facilities are not, however, a place to store unwanted relatives. I think it’s great that power has been given back to all the parents who have been abandoned and forgotten by their kids. If your kids have dumped you on the steps of an aged care facility and run for the hills then I think the ungrateful brats deserve to be sued.

What do you think? Is it okay to sue your kids if they abandon you in an aged care facility? Would you do it? Or are bored parents in China going to use this as a way to blackmail their offspring into visiting more often?


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    19th Mar 2013
    I don't think it'll be easy and perhaps it's not right to force children to care for their parents. In an ideal world, loving children care for their loving elderly parents. But families are not always like that.

    And some of us would prefer the care of perfect strangers to the care from our own children. ;)
    19th Mar 2013
    I cared for my elderly mother and the toll on my health has been devastating for myself. It is a big call for one sibling to totally do this on their own. I loved my mother to bits and would have it no other way, but there comes a time when a nursing home becomes a reality, no matter how much it hurts. I think though that if no child visits their parent in a nursing facility then that is abandonment
    grumpy old woman
    19th Mar 2013
    Agree, aquarius.
    However - not to aquarius's comments but to the article - suing the children is one thing but it wont address the emotional abandonment.
    biddi, below, makes a good point.

    My final point came when I could no longer physically move my mother from bed to commode or wheelchair. Fortunatley for me the nursing home was so close (less than 10 mins walk away) that I could visit my mother up to 8 times a week - more usually about 4. But twice I was really ill and could not visit for 2 then 3 weeks at a time. Phoning would have been impossible for my mother to handle so effectively I had to abandon her for those times. I think that abandonment was part of the cause of her deterioration in health. I still grieve and feel guilty after more than four years.

    Money is no substitute for presence and loving care.
    19th Mar 2013
    As you say, there are all sorts of reasons for 'abandoning' one's parents. What if you don't like
    your parents or never got on with them? Why should one be forced to look after them? Each case is different and should be assessed thus. As Aquarius says, there comes a time when
    nursing homes become a reality.
    19th Mar 2013
    This is all a bit unreal surely?
    I have 4 kids, all adults, living all over Australia, and most with kids of their own. I neither expect or want them to have to take care of me in my senior years, and I make sure they know what I want in the event of my needing to be cared for.

    We don't have kids in order to have someone taking care of us in our old age surely? I didn't anyway. Mine were raised to try different things, go places, explore, and ultimately go where their hearts take them.
    old grumpy
    19th Mar 2013
    I agree with most of what's been said above, however, to be ignored is hurtful. A phone call, an occasional visit, is not too much to ask, surely. Most offspring are never backward in coming forward to ask for something, but some are not too keen on the giving side of things, especially their time.
    19th Mar 2013
    I am with you old grumpy, I don't see my children very much as they live to far for a day visit, but a phone call weekly would be nice,(not 6-8wks) my own mother lives in Q,land and I call her every Sunday morn, I live on my own and could be ill and my kids wouldn't know unless I rang and told them, and I wouldn't, they aren't worried enough to keep in touch with me, so I wouldn't burden them, I ring them more, and they forget very easy how you have helped them get started in their adult life.
    19th Mar 2013
    Iam married to a Chinese lady family is and always will be the most important thing whether married or not, one needs to be in China during the Spring festival to observe the travelling home to be with the parents devotion or maybe a legal requirement whatever it is something the West needs to take a long hard look at our culture relating to family, I took a Chinese wife because they are so different to western ladies in so many ways however they are very money orientated wasting money needlessly is paramount in their way of life, My wife cannot understand why people sit in restaurants paying high prices, when cooking can be done and shared at home together, agan family is the most important thing I have had to adjust to a complete shift has my has had too in my western thinkong
    19th Mar 2013
    This could be a very difficult way to go. If you are a married couple , it is quite possible that there are four elderly parents all needing care either at once or in rapid succession. How can that be managed, when at least one of the couple is in paid employment and the other must do the caring (depending on how much help the elderly need). And how does a couple cope with the financial needs of a household of maybe six, on one income? Especially if there are children to consider as well. Do the elderly in China receive any pension? But I agree with the premise that children should at the very least visit their elderly parents as often as they can - that's not much to ask!

    I agree with Reppie. I never want to put any of my own children in the position of having to look after me, although I admit that I would like to have them visit from time to time. And if your relationship with your parents was poor when you were growing up, it could be very difficult to have to be their carer!
    19th Mar 2013
    Always remember the saying: "Where there's a Will, there's Family!"
    Make the right noises......and you'll be amazed at how much love and how big your family is!
    But on a more serious note, the comments made by aquarius, Reppie and old grumpy are all valid.
    In these days communication is so easy, so if you aren't actually in the country there's no excuse for neglecting the one's who brought you into the world.
    If there are or were issues earlier in life, then always remember, the day of reckoning comes when communication can no longer be made......and then I'm afraid it is too late!
    19th Mar 2013
    I think that this is a great idea, however, I think that it may be very hard to enforce, the world is a large place, and families are are not what they were, people are mainly having less children and they do not live around the corner, it could make it very hard , especially in China with the one child laws, I am sure most will contact their parent often, and make sure they are well cared for, amongst the new Me generations it could be very hard.
    I think most of us oldies are happy as long as our children are happy, everyone has their own lives to live, us too, I never intend to be a burden on my children, but I hope if I need them they would help, as i have them in the past, do unto to others as you would be done by, and I pray to be independant as long as I can.
    19th Mar 2013
    I totally agree with Reppie, you don't have kids so they can look after you in old age. It's up to them, how they feel about what is best for their parent.
    After all, you brought them up to be responsible, caring, loving adults, didn't you.
    I've told mine I'll be quite happy in aged care, but they just smile, so who knows what they have in mind for me. Nothing but the best I'm sure.
    I would never make demands on them, they have busy families themselves, but I am lucky enough to be an independent able person and not everyone is that fortunate.
    19th Mar 2013
    I have also heard Peepo "where there is a Will... there is a War!" so perhaps if children looked after their parents more there would not be so many baby boomers in the SKI club (spend the kids inheritance club).
    19th Mar 2013
    I couldn't imagine anything worse than being a burden on one's children.

    I am considering a NFR order. Does anyone know how about this, and how it is obtaianed. Also it would be necessary to carry this is some form on one's person. Again does anyone know about this?

    I agree, that this is not for everyone, in fact, very few. But I feel quite strongly about it. I am healthy at the moment, but don't want to end up depending upon anyone for my care.
    19th Mar 2013
    As I am aware, ambulance personnel don't have any option - they have to institute CPR whether it is wanted or not, or even if it is appropriate. Decisions can be made on admission to hospital, or at any time while an inpatient. You can then make a standing order which should be observed on any future hospital admission (to that hospital), subject of course to any change of mind in the meantime. But if something happens to you out in the community then you will still get CPR from the ambos.
    Tom Tank
    19th Mar 2013
    I do take issue with some points in Rachel's statement. The concept that it is a necessity for there to be two breadwinners per household working full time is really because they overextended themselves financially with the Mac Mansion fully furnished with all mod cons plus the cars etc etc. We oldies made do with a house that was big enough for our needs with mattresses on the floor and sheets on the windows until we could afford the rest.
    The other issue is that the aged care facilities were created so that people did not have to stay home to look after their oldies is incorrect. Aged care facilities are there for those people who can no longer care for themselves and whose care demands more than their children are able to provide.
    This can be because of their physical needs or possibly because of dementia.
    Parents, in general, tend to get the children they deserve. Love starts with respect and if children are brought without being taught to respect others as well as respect themselves then they will treat all and sundry accordingly.
    I love and respect my children and I believe it is reciprocated and should I need to enter aged care I am sure they will take care to choose one that will be appropriate for me. They often remind of that in fact- that they will be choosing my "nursing home" so I need to behave or else.
    19th Mar 2013
    I have a carer to my house 3 times oper week and my husband does most of the cooking etc. Not always to my liking but he does a pretty good job, with a fer lessons and a lot of help from vidoes on the compuer. I dread the thought of having to go into a nursing home and even though my kids are pretty good they are not my baby sitters as far as I am concerned. As for the will everything is to be divided evenly between my two kin=ds & their kids. As set out in my will. The children in laws are to get nothing... NOt a red cent.
    Nan Norma
    19th Mar 2013
    Being cared for by your child at home doesn't mean its always the for the best. A child can financially abuse their parent. My mother made it quite clear when the time came she wanted to go in a nursing home. Instead she was 'grannynapped' by my sibling. It cost my mother more than the nursing home, yet had the conditions been the same in a nursing home, the home would have been closed down. Visiting my mother was akin to visiting someone in prison. She was never able to speak to me in private.
    Personally, if my children had to be forced to visit me I'd rather they didn't bother.
    Nan Norma
    19th Mar 2013
    I'd also write my will appropriately.
    19th Mar 2013
    I don't know whether or not I was prescient, smart or just lucky but when I was confronting the "senior" age of 60, I decided upon a path that was designed to obviate the problems of having old parents being a burden upon our children.
    I couldn't count the number of my peers who were facing agonising decisions about their oldies to whom they (rightly) felt a responsibility and were seeking appropriate facilities where they could settle Mum & Dad and still be geographically close to them.
    Determined to not present our children with this problem we initiated the necessary search for a solution to the problem BEFORE it became a problem. We settled upon an excellent institution which will look after us together and, inevitably, singly through the three stage of aged care accommodation......i.e. self care, hostel care, nursing home and eventually a nice box. Of the many decisions that are thrust upon one in life, this one, for us, was the best we ever made.
    With only the social relationship with our children, secure in the knowledge that their most demanding filial duty is to come see us occasionly, I believe that we have true independence. A word of caution, don't leave such moves too late.
    19th Mar 2013
    Somehow I think that enacting laws like this are going to cause more problems than they will solve.
    19th Mar 2013

    Thank you for the information regarding NFR. As I have my status as donor on my medicare details, I thought that perhaps that NFR could also be recorded.
    19th Mar 2013
    Whoops! You can't be a donor without agreeing to be resuscitated - sorry! Excepting for corneas, the body MUST be kept alive for the organs to be of use. NFR will only apply if you are in hospital - in an emergency on the street no-one is going to take the time to check medicare details for your NFR status. CPR will be started straight away, and your history will be checked by the admitting hospital.
    20th Mar 2013

    Thank you for clarifying this for me. It would have been a very big Whoops!!
    20th Mar 2013
    I would not want to live with my children when I am older, ever. I would not want to force my children to see me, let alone care for me. The important thing is to do your best for your children while they are growing to adulthood. They did not ask to be brought into the world and to my way of thinking there should be no onus on them because they have parents.
    More to the point people should prepare for their old age, if they have paid their taxes and tried to be thrifty it is fair enough to expect the government to step up with some help. Too many people are assumed to be useless as they age - why don't the powers that be put their thinking caps on and work out what people CAN do to help with their keep when they are older?
    20th Mar 2013
    What's next? Will kids be able to sue their parents?

    7th May 2015
    Although I find this very funny, as parents, they should be able to prepare for their retirement. I understand that not a lot would have the resources to do so, but to sue your children? I think there is something wrong with the way they bring up children. A few of the mothers at the storage office were having mixed emotions about this, and vowed not to reach such kind of situation with their children.
    7th May 2015
    I think in China, it's a very different situation to here. We shy away from the idea of our kids financially supporting us but over there, it's a way of life, and unlike here, they are not supported by the State. So children know from the start that they have to take care of their parents. I don't think we can compare with the situation in China.
    Nan Norma
    7th May 2015
    I don't understand, as families I thought we were supposed to care for each other. Go overseas and you will see how other countries accept caring for elederly parents as part of every day life. How can we older people expect any respect if we teach out children that you don't expect them to care about. even if you do have to go in a nursing home your family should be visiting you making sure you are being cared for properly.
    7th May 2015
    I think that's the ideal but the world is much smaller these days and our kids are spread all round the world. I know mine are. When my parents were elderly, I lived in a different country and could only visit twice a year. Fortunately, my sisters did a great job of caring for them in my absence. My parents didn't expect me to move back. I had a job, a house with a mortgage, kids in school. That's just life in the 21st century. In China, for the vast majority, life is very different and parents need their children to contribute financially and in every other way.

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