How to care for left-be­hind kids and par­ents

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

Aseries of news head­lines re­cently has prompted soulsearch­ing on the care for se­nior cit­i­zens and chil­dren. new draft law on the pro­tec­tion of mi­nors in Zhe­jiang prov­ince, East China, says par­ents who have left their chil­dren at home to work in places hun­dreds, if not thou­sands, of kilo­me­ters away should con­tact their chil­dren at least once a month.

A 78-year-old woman in Sichuan prov­ince, South­west China, re­cently took her four chil­dren to court for not vis­it­ing her reg­u­larly, and asked the court to pass a rul­ing to en­sure the chil­dren do so. The court is yet to give its ver­dict.

And a nurs­ing home for se­nior cit­i­zens in Suzhou, Jiangsu prov­ince, in East China, has an­nounced a 200 yuan ($29) award for peo­ple who visit their par­ents at the home more than 30 times in two months. The home claims the num­ber of vis­its has risen sharply since then.

Such news is heart­break­ing. Do par- ents-chil­dren ties have to be sus­tained by law and mone­tary in­cen­tives?

Al­though laws and poli­cies are be­ing used to re­mind peo­ple to ful­fill their fil­ial du­ties and parental re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as par­ents, it is dif­fi­cult to en­force the law of­ten due to the lack of plain­tiff and cor­re­spond­ing pun­ish­ment, and the ef­fects of mone­tary awards may not last long.

The Sichuan case is per­haps the first of its kind, for few par­ents would want to em­bar­rass their chil­dren by su­ing them for fail­ing to ful­fill their fil­ial du­ties. Equally im­por­tant, even if chil­dren can visit their par­ents in nurs­ing homes ev­ery­day, par­ents would not like to trou­ble them so much.

There are two thorny is­sues — left-be­hind chil­dren and empty-nest se­nior cit­i­zens, who to some ex­tent are the vic­tims of China’s rapid ur­ban­iza­tion.

Each year, mil­lions of peo­ple leave their home­towns to seek a bet­ter life in big cities. Among them are mi­grant work­ers who toil on con­struc­tion sites and are thus re­luc­tant to spend their mea­ger wages on ex­pen­sive highspeed rail­way tick­ets. Also part of this mo­bile pop­u­la­tion are young grad­u­ates har­bor­ing dreams of set­tling down in big cities who are not will­ing to reg­u­larly travel back home, for they can use that time to work and build their ca­reers.

This ex­plains the unique and largest hu­man mi­gra­tion in the world dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val when more than 2 bil­lion trips are made be­tween cities and the vast ru­ral ar­eas across the coun­try.

For many empty-nest el­derly and left­be­hind chil­dren, this is the only time they can see their chil­dren and par­ents in one year, be­cause after a short stay, they travel back to the cities.

The long dis­tance be­tween their home­town and place of work is very dif­fi­cult to cover on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, but peo­ple can still strengthen their emo­tional bonds with their par­ents and chil­dren by call­ing them on the phone to en­quire about their well-be­ing at reg- ular in­ter­vals. Be­sides, a video chat with young chil­dren back home, ask­ing them to fo­cus on their stud­ies, is a good way to cheer them up and pre­vent them from go­ing astray.

It is the think­ing that some­one cares for you and misses you all the time that of­fers the el­derly and chil­dren the men­tal con­so­la­tion they need.

Even among peo­ple who have al­ready set­tled down in big cities and brought their par­ents to live with them, there is some­times a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Many peo­ple are very nice to and com­fort­able with friends, even strangers, but are of­ten im­pa­tient when talk­ing with their par­ents. A per­son’s ugly side is at times on full dis­play in front of peo­ple with whom they have the clos­est re­la­tion­ship.

It is time to re­flect on how to take bet­ter care of peo­ple who have raised you and peo­ple who are your re­spon­si­bil­ity to raise.

The writer is an ed­i­tor at China Daily. li­fangchao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

WANG QIFENG / FOR CHINA DAILY

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.