Too much to ask parents to take Western approach

By Little Jelly Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-14 22:28:01

I read an article the other day on your newspaper arguing whether Chinese children are responsible for their parents' happiness. As a 25-year-old girl under pressure to find a boyfriend and get married before 30, I find this topic hits.

I always feel guilty about parents as I can only visit them twice a year, after choosing to live alone in a city about 1,200 kilometers from my hometown. My parents always try to persuade me, their only daughter, to find a job and a husband in my hometown every time I go home.

Although I feel pressured from time to time, I can totally understand my parents. Some Chinese parents have interfered too much in their grown-up children's personal lives. They interrogate kids about their relationships, find kids "ideal" jobs and push their kids to "chase the dreams they built up for them."

However, isn't it too cruel if we force our parents to adjust to "modern" life?

Compared with our Western counterparts, we have enjoyed much more support from parents. When I was in the UK studying for my master's degree, I saw most of my UK friends taking part-time jobs in cafes, restaurants and shops to pay their tuition fees.

In contrast, Chinese students always get money directly from their parents. It is common in China that children rely on parents to be admitted to reputable schools, get an easy but well-paid job after graduation, and purchase a flat at a very young age.

Our parents have poured all their energy and resources into us. This is impossible in the West. Our lives are much easier than our Western counterparts, thanks to our parents. Thus it is unfair to our parents if we force them to be independent after they get old when we have relied on them for decades. Before we ask them to find happiness "from within" and become independent from us, we should think of their sacrifices for us.

In addition, most Chinese parents have spent almost all their life savings on their children. "Raising a son to take care of the elderly" is understandable.

From the economic perspective, a carefree life is hard to realize in China, especially in rural areas where most parents have limited access to reliable social insurance and health care services, let alone pensions. While nursing homes are popular in developed nations, their management, facilities and services are far from perfect in China.

The author said that she made big resolutions every holiday to be an "obedient" daughter. However, filial piety does not mean being "obedient" to our parents.

By pushing me to get married, my parents just want their only child to be taken care of in a city far away from home. They have no real intention to interfere in my personal life. They are just showing concerns for their only child. They expect to see a happy daughter, instead of an obedient child.

Furthermore, the elderly, especially when retired, need more companionship than ever. Although we cannot accompany our parents all the time, we should at least be patient to them when at home.

This is also why the author was criticized as "immature" for the idea of hiring a professional caregiver to take care of her father. Although a professional caregiver is more efficient, parents' feelings deserve to be given more weight.

It would be selfish for us to ask our parents to be "Westernized" after they have brought us up in a traditional Chinese way. Instead of complaining about their "interference" in our lives, we should learn to be grateful to their sacrifices and care for us.

This is the basic meaning of filial piety.

Little Jelly, a white-collar worker based in Beijing

Posted in: Letters

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