In ancient time, filial piety is regarded as one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors, which means to be good to one’s parents, to take care of one’s parents and be definitely obedient to their parents in any case and do whatever their parents require. Parents have the supreme control over their children in traditional family. Filial piety has long been the virtue of the Chinese people. As time goes by, things have changed a lot. Parents’ power has weakened a lot.
Recently the article Dear Son Mother Wants To Be A Dog in Your Home was widely spread among netizens in Q-zones, blogs and forums (na.2010). When I first read this article, I could not withdraw my tears. I believe anyone with conscience who has read it will be deeply moved and feels sorrow for the old women. It is high time that we considered the old-age support in our country. I think we should send our parents to retirement homes in the future.
I divide my argumentation into two parts. The first part is about people in rural areas and the second part is about people in city.
According to Wang (2008), ‘ The traditional family structure has collapsed and is replaced by one-child family pattern'(P.28). As the number of children reduce , the old-age support situation becomes more serious for the rural people. It is predicted that in the future every young people has two to four old people to support (Qin,J,2009,P32). It can be extremely difficult for these rural people with low incomes to sustain so many old. In order to relieve the pressure, it will be a good choice to send old people to the nursing home to pass their old age. Besides, it is also the government’s responsibility to plan the budget for old-age support to help those poor young people. Thus, we can at least guarantee the old people’s basic living needs if we send our parents to a retirement home. We get someone to take care of them in the nursing home. When they are hungry, they have something to eat. When it is too cold or too hot, they have clothes to wear. When it rains or heats, they have rooms to shelter. When they are ill, they can turn to the doctor in time. The most important thing is that they can turn to someone to help when an emergency happens. In this way, the tragedy like Dear Son Mother Wants To Be A Dog in Your Home will never happen again.
In rural areas, the necessity to send parents to a nursing home seems greater since old people in the countryside lead a much more difficult life than city people. Old people are often ignored or maltreated by their children in rural areas because they can not earn any money or work any more. Much of the family income is spent on the young children while very little even no money on the old people. According to Fan (2010) “There is a shocking fact that the elderly suicide in rural areas are among the highest reported in any country in mainland China”(P.84). It can not be denied that the rural elderly suicide has much to do with the ignorance and maltreatment of old people. To many old people, they had to stand the ill-treatment. Because they beileve domestic shame should not be made public. So to send old people to a retirement home can be a good way to protect their rights.
Another reason for sending rural old people to nursing home is that they can meet, play with people of the same age and feel less lonely. Nowadays young people go to work in downtown and bring their children together. They are busy with their work and seldom return home to see their parents. Many old people suffer from loneliness most of the time at home. So why not send the parents to a retirement home? In the retirement home, they can express and share opinions with other old people. It can be much convenient for them to play chess, mah-jong and do sports together.
Like rural old people, those who live in the city slao suffer from loneliness. As Cai (2009) has pointed out that “China is still a developing country, the advanced population aging has declined the economy development and caused further challenge to the under-funded pension system”(P54). To be a 1980s’ generation, we are under great stress. In order to survive in the city, we have to work hard to pay off home loan, car loan, pay for food, drinks, clothes, water bill, electric charge children’s education and old-age support. We are busy with our work. We eat fast food,work extra hours come and go in a hurry. Life in the city is busy. Things changes rapidly. Little do we have time to spend with our family.
The generation gaps between children and parents,grandchildren and grandparents are wide. Old people often find it difficult to catch up with the time, their children and grandchildren. For example, young children may find it interesting to search the Internet and play on-line games at home on weekends while the old people would like to go out to chat with some acquaints. It’s obvious that there are a lot of differences between old people and young people, such as their appetites, interests and values. These differences have caused much inconvenience for old people to live with children. Many old people in city suffer alienation and loneliness. It can be wise to send parents to a retirement home where they can find people of similar interest and hobbies. As people in the city generally worry little about their basic necessities, all they want is a light heart. With people of the common language, they can confide to each other, get rid of worry, feel understood and more valued.
Besides, the housing price continues to be high. It can be a great burdon for young people to purchase a larger house with special rooms provided for old people. As Luo & Jiang (2009) state that “the average housing space is only 7.1 squaremeters in the city “(P50). The intense housing shortage has become a common and outstanding issue. In this background, it can not be a better choice than to send parents to nursing home.
However, some people may argue that it is not in accordance with filial piety to send our parents to retirement homes. It may sound unreasonable if one just sees the superficial and doesn’t go deeper. However, imagine that you leave your old parents helpless in the rural areas, will you be guilt? So why not send your parents to the downtown retirement home? It isn’t it nice for them to be in a convenient place which may be closer to where you work? Just think about leaving your parents with no one to talk to in the box house and getting old gloomily, do you feel sorry for them? So why not bring changes to it and send your parents to the retirement home where they can find some companions and live a more meaningful life?
The most important reason is that old people should learn to be independent. As Russell(n.d.) wrote:
A successful old age is easiest for those who have strong impersonal interests involving appropriate activities. And the best way to overcome death is to make one’s interests gradually wider and more impersonal,until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede,and one’s life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.(P93)
As Russell has pointed out that it’s important for old people to guard against clinging too much to youth in the hope of sucking vigor from its vitality. The nursing home can be a good place for old people to develop their own personal interests involving appropriate activities. Only when old people have strong wills can they enjoy a happy life no matter what difficulties they are faced with.
Because we are busy making money to support the family and don’t have time to take of them, and the unevitable differences between old people and young generation, and the high housing price and the unability to both buy houses and support the old, we have to send our parents to a retirement home in the future. This is not to say that sending our parents to the retirement home is the whole thing. Filial piety includes much more details, such as we can pay visits to them as often as possible, celebrate important fesitivals with them, call them when we can not come to see them. It’s very important to give them spiritual support and comfort. If possible, we can take them to travel together.
Above all ,it’s up to our parents whether to go to the nursing homes or not. We can not force our parents to go. It’s very important that we communicate with our parents in time and we should let them understand our decisions.In the future, the nursing home may be constructed as pleasant as kindergartens so that we can send our parents there in the day and pick them as well as our children up at night. Of course, we need the government’s large financial support to built quality retirement homes.