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UPDATED: July 29, 2013 NO. 31 AUGUST 1, 2013
Should Visiting Parents Be Written Into Law?


On July 1, the newly amended Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly formally took effect. According to the law, adult children are required to visit their parents regularly.

The same day, a woman was ordered by a court in Wuxi, east China's Jiangsu Province, to visit her mother at least once every two months in addition to at least two visits for all national holidays. The mother sued her daughter for filial negligence.

Enforcement of this Law has triggered debate within Chinese society. Supporters say writing "going home often" into law is a last resort in rekindling filial responsibility, while opponents think filial piety belongs to the realm of ethics, and so writing it into law is unnecessary. Some argue that visiting and caring for parents is hampered by limited holidays and long distances, among other reasons. Meanwhile, others worry that laws are insufficient in governing morality. The following are excerpts of opinions:


He Liangliang (catv.net): Writing "going home often" into law fully embodies the virtue of the Chinese nation. In my opinion, it's necessary to write this requirement into law.

Today, China has more than 100 million elderly people living by themselves, particularly in rural areas. In some regions, local governments and communities help them overcome economic difficulties, but loneliness resulting from the absence of children cannot be easily comforted. They hope their children will come home to visit them, even if only once or twice a year! This is a reasonable request from parents. However, in real life, some young people do not go home often, with some not visiting their parents for several years.

Some old people may have already lost the capability of taking care of themselves. In the past, there has been no legal basis to ask children to fulfill basic filial duties. Due to the new bill, parents can accuse their unfilial children to ensure their basic living standards are kept up. No one would wholly depend on laws to force children to fulfill their duties, but with legal support, the unfilial might feel pressed to take care of their parents.

Modern society features a population of migration. Many families have parents and children living in different places. Because they are too busy or due to this or that kind of reason, children do not visit home often, and as a result, having their children return becomes a luxury for parents. In some extreme cases, children have never returned home since leaving for better lives. As a result, their parents live in loneliness. Isn't this a pity?

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