What if your parents could sue you for not calling or stopping by for a visit?
That is the case in China today after a new law passed this week requiring adult children to visit and care for their elderly parents. At the very least, children must call their parents on the phone to check on them.
According to China Daily, the official newspaper of the country, the law is intended “to protect the lawful rights and interests of parents aged 60 and older, and to carry on the Chinese virtue of filial piety.” And it's giving elderly parents leverage to use in the courts if their children don't comply. “Parents whose children live apart from them and fail to visit regularly can ask for mediation or file a lawsuit,” the newspaper says.
Why the need for the new regulation? Experts point out that it's not unusual for the Chinese government to regulate family matters. This is the country with the infamous "one child" policy, after all. And it may be that very policy that has put China's elderly parents in a bind. After all, if you only have one child, you're putting all of your eggs into one basket when it comes to your senior-living care. If that child becomes sick, financially-strapped, or for any other reason unwilling to care for his parents, those parents can't rely on anyone else for help.
Hence the new law, requiring children to care for their parents or face the legal consequences. What if you don't live near your parents? You're still not exempt as the new law includes a provision requiring employers to give their employees time off to visit and care for their parents.