Don't Ignore Your Elders


In December, China joined only a handful of countries (and 29 U.S. states) by strengthening the rights of elderly parents to demand support from their adult children — not only financially (which has been the law for more than a decade) but now allowing lawsuits by parents who feel emotionally ignored as well. An October Associated Press feature on one rural extended family dramatized China's cultural shift away from its proverbial "first virtue" of family honor. Zhang Zefang, 94, said she did not even understand the concept of "lawsuit" when a local official explained it, but only that she deserved better from the children she had raised and who now allegedly resent her neediness. (A village court promptly ordered several family members to contribute support for Zhang.)

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