What It Means To Accept Filial Obligation
Next to my spouse, my parents are the most important individuals in my life. They have been on my side literally from day 1. They have seen my ups and downs and loved me even at my worst. I may be a full-fledged adult in the eyes of society, but to my parents, I am still their baby. There is ideally nothing that these folks will not be willing to do for me, so it feels natural to do the same for them.
The thing is, the idea to take care of my parents is a duty that I have placed upon myself. Neither my mom nor my dad asked me to do that. In truth, they insist that I should stop worrying about them because their retirement money is more than enough for the two of them. They can quickly get a helper or caregiver as well if the time comes that simple tasks like cooking and going down the stairs will be a challenge. Still, I insist on doing all that for my parents and more because I love them that much.
Meanwhile, the situation may be different for adults in Asian families. “Traditional Chinese values center around the family, and they have major effects in the organization and arrangements for the care of Chinese elderly people. As an important part of Chinese culture, filial piety determines the obligation for adult children to take care of their parents,” said Dong Xinqi, MD, MPH.
Although Asians follow different religions nowadays, it remains typical for the people to have filial responsibility. And if this obligation may be optional in the US and other Western countries, it is practically compulsory in the East.
What it means to accept filial responsibility is that:
You Need To Take Them In Or Live In Their House
In case you have not noticed, multiple generations live together in some Asian homes. It can only be the result of either of these things: 1) The married child has been evicted from the apartment with their family or 2) The aging parent has nowhere to go.
Whichever the reason may be, it is the adult child’s responsibility to take care of their old mother and father. That is irrespective of the fact that they may have their own family to look after as well. As long as there are seniors to care for in the house, their duties will be far from over.
You Have To Cover Your Parents’ Financial Needs
As I have mentioned above, when I try to do something beautiful for my mom and dad, they say that I don’t have to do that. It seems especially true when I insist on paying for our meals at the restaurant or buying their medication. In Asian households, however, covering the parents’ financial needs is one of the adult child’s duties.
You Should Be Your Elders’ Primary Caregiver
“If caregiving is a burden, it is one often undertaken willingly and with love. Some people report increased satisfaction. They’re happy to do their part, and the payback is a chance to connect with a parent and improve family relationships,” explains Glenn D. Braunstein, MD.
Many Asians do not hire nurses or caregivers to look after their elderly parents, no matter how much money they have. It is not because they are stingy or unwilling to trust a professional carer. Instead, they believe that it is also their obligation to care for the elders on their own. They may get a maid to do the house chores, but asking another person to be their loved one’s caregiver may not sit well with them.
The filial obligation is something that not all Western people understand. Some say that it’s not okay because it is as if the elders are milking the working adults in the family for money. Others think that it’s an extremely outmoded idea that should be removed. Despite that, we should all agree that the individuals who take on such a huge responsibility deserve recognition and appreciation.
“Adult children may become sources of emotional, financial and even physical support for their parents, but this is not the same as raising them. They should learn to regard their parents as individuals, not just people who reared them. They should also recognize that their parents are coping with declining faculties, the deaths of old friends and relatives and other losses in their lives,” says Linda Teri, PhD.