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Filial piety of Chinese nation takes root in foreign countries

By Wang Hengyun (People's Daily Overseas Edition)

16:18, May 31, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

The accelerated aging society has turned the issue of supporting the elderly into a hot topic. It has been especially troubling for overseas Chinese.

There are many differences between Western culture and Chinese culture. The Western culture highlights personal independence and many young people are unwilling to live with their parents. Therefore, the majority of old people live by themselves or in nursing homes; while Chinese culture attaches great importance to "filial piety coming first among all virtues" and children should support their parents and revere elders. Under the conditions of culture clash and pressure of living in foreign countries, inheriting the virtue of filial piety has become very difficult.

Many Chinese immigrants continue to follow the Chinese tradition of supporting elders and bring the duty of support to foreign countries. They are unwilling to send their parents to nursing homes, worring that they cannot adapt to the strange environment. Some foreigners have also gradually changed their original elderly-supporting form, choosing to support the elderly at home, and added new forms to traditional "filial piety."

In the United States, family support for the elderly has become an increasing prevalent trend in non-Asian Americans. Today, in the United States, there are about 20-plus million informal family care nursing staff, including spouse, adult children, relatives and friends. Kimberley Parker, PR supervisor of the Administration on Aging of Illinois, said that "currently about a quarter of families in America choose to take care of their elders at home."

The U.S. government provides supports in capital and other aspects for relevant programs on family caregivers through the "Family Caregiver Support Plan." Parker said that in 2011, over 64,500 family caregivers have received services though this plan. In addition, 28 U.S. states have also promulgated laws on filial piety for safeguarding senior citizen's lives.

Canada has also made efforts to create a social environment for serving the elders and the nation is encouraging various volunteer groups to participate in serving seniors. Nursing homes have also launched a deposit-type service where long-term unpaid volunteers can live in nursing homes for free when they are old so as to encourage young people to actively participate in serving the elderly.

In Singapore, the government is guiding and encouraging children to live with their parents through the housing safeguard measure "group houses." The government established Confucian Ethics as a compulsory course for moral education for students in their junior or senior high school years and filial piety is one of the topics.

"Filial piety" as a good moral tradition of the Chinese nation, has exerted a deep influence on generations of Chinese people for the past several thousand years. Today, overseas Chinese, while integrating in local society, also inherit the Chinese nation's good tradition of "the elderly being looked after properly" and "elderly parents being emotional and financial supported" and will further develop it.

Read the Chinese version: 中华孝道国外生根


Leave your comment2 comments

  1. Name

marishkaB at 2012-07-03121.97.205.*
Over half the states in the country have what are called “filial support” regulations, which makes individuals accountable for their parents" long term medical care bills. The effect is that a large number of people are getting saddled with impossible debts and suits. Now, Filial support laws put many in debt for care of parents. Most states have “ability to pay” provisions, which many of the lawyers who file suits on behalf of nursing homes are well aware of, which exclude people from financial obligations if they cannot afford their parents’ medical bills. But, a number of people are getting saddled with large debts or being sued by nursing homes.
Harald at 2012-06-01101.5.211.*
Serving one"s parents was also the European norm, until retirement got supported by the governments..

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