Elderly father in China sues to have his grown children visit him
An 80-year old man in Nanjing, China has sued his three grown children because they won't visit him, not even for Lunar New Year when traditionally it is the time families would get together to celebrate. He said he was at wit's end and was forced to file the suit. How did the judge rule?
Old Mr. Chen said he and his wife raised three children: two daughters and one son. When his wife was alive, the children would periodically return home to visit and to have a meal together. Ever since his wife passed away, the children have neglected him. He has become sickly and unable to take care of himself well, and he has used up his savings to pay for medical bills. During the last 6 years, he was hospitalized 12 times. His retirement is too meager to keep up with all the expenses. But what has got him really upset is that the grown children hardly ever come visit him, even when he was hospitalized.
His tears flowed when he talked about his loneliness. "During New Year's or holidays, other families would be filled with happiness and people. I only have the TV to keep me company. My heart feels chilled, " said Mr. Chen. He really would like his children to visit him, and he was hoping that they would assist him in paying the outstanding medical bills that exceeded 50,000 yuan (over US$8,000.)
His daughters and son told the court that they cared about their father, but admitted that they have neglected to fulfill their duties. They are busy at work and have to take care of their own families. They know that the father's medical insurance doesn't sufficiently cover the expenses and that his pension is too low, but they have not been able to reach a consensus on how to take care of him. They told the judge they would be willing to share their duties so that their father will live without worries.
The judge ruled that the son and one of the daughters will take turns taking care of their elderly father. The other daughter will pay him 450 yuan every month. All three will share in paying 35,000 yuan of the outstanding medical bills.
Fulfilling filial duties is an old and respected virtue in Chinese society. However, with China's modernization, many traditions have been impacted. In 2013, China implemented a law requiring adult children to visit their elderly parents. Old Mr. Chen is hardly the only Chinese parent who feels neglected. At least in this case, the judge's ruling appears to be a good compromise that's accepted by all three of Mr. Chen's children.