Around 3,900 families have lost their only child in Beijing since China's family planning policy was introduced in 1979. Many of these childless couples are now elderly and lack support traditionally provided by children. Recently, the Beijing municipal government launched a scheme to provide psychological support at centers for such elderly couples who have lost their children. Do you think such a measure will help bring comfort to these people? What is life like for childless elderly couples in your home country? Xiang Xiangping hit the streets to find out.
Fang Qing, medical consultant, China
In the compound where I live I know a couple who lost their only 24-year-old son three years ago. The couple has retired and aren't in good state all the time. Since their son's death, they don't chat happily with us anymore and always stay at home. I don't think they will seek psychological support because they think they are fine. They probably would fear others might gossip about them suffering from a mental disorder.
Nelly Donahue, tourist, the Netherlands
Under the family planning policy, parents cherish their only child a lot and spend almost everything on bringing them up. Once they are gone, parents just can't banish their pain. If the idea that children form the focal point of parents' lives could be changed, life could be easier. Psychological problems would disappear naturally.
David Reno, tourist, US
Psychology centers are important regardless of whether there are psychological problems from a family losing their only child or other aspects. Children make a family have more fun and make it less possible that parents will be left alone. In our country, elderly people can lead a cozy life with good subsidies from the government. There are also retirement homes, canteens, sports centers and medical institutes that specifically cater for the elderly.
Karen Furtado, restaurant manager, UK
China is a country with more and more elderly people who deserve care from the whole of society. I am really sorry for couples who have lost their only child and I hope such centers can be staffed with professional and caring psychology experts to help them cope with their pain.
Shen Huilan, retiree, China
Firstly, the government should subsidize these families more. Secondly, the family planning policy should be reconsidered by leaders. Considering whether the policy is still suitable now is really important. Finally, these families need to stay strong and care for themselves well, which is what their deceased children would want to see.
Liu Jun, advertising designer, China
I can understand these parents as I am an only child myself and I also have my own child now. Children really form a considerable part of parents' lives. Losing a son or daughter is a painful experience. I am glad we have such centers now to deal with this obvious problem. The government should really use money paid by us taxpayers to do something practical.