TED Conversations

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

what do you think about the family duty?

in modern China, many people go to cities far from their hometown for work, such as factory work, and leave their families behind. Most of them only go home once a year, during Spring Festival. Some villages in the countryside have no middle-aged people, only small children and their old grandparents. Why does this happen? Does it mean that traditional culture is now just a thing of the past? Or do people have some other duties that are more important? Or does a developed economy only make people more selfish? Or is it because of something else? What do you think?

Imagine: If you were married with a young child, and your parents were getting old, and if you were offered a good-paying job that was very far away, would you accept the job? Why or why not?

+1
Share:
progress indicator
  • thumb
    Dec 4 2013: no I wouldn't accept it because quality of life dictates that I stay near my parents.

    By the way, vivian, you can add more time to this by clicking "edit" and adding more. Right now you have four hours.
  • thumb
    Dec 4 2013: What is family duty? Just staying close to parents in a situation where one does not have enough earning to give them good heath care, a decent place to stay and even some financial help?
    I am Indian and let me tell you we are very strongly family centric. Indian kids stay with their parents till late thirties even today. It was very difficult for me to work in remote places leaving my family behind which included a newly wed wife and a couple of months old baby boy. But that I did it does not mean I am any less dutiful to them.
    Moreover, people may choose to work away from family for reasons other than financial. Work it self may be a fulfilling and enabling experience of a person that helps one to understand the true sense of duty.
  • thumb
    Dec 4 2013: I don't know your nationality, but regarding your profile-pic I think you have some blood relationship with Chinese or other Asian people. It seems that you don't know much about China, so I'd like to offer you the news of the famlily duty from the VOA English. Hope it will give you a better understanding.
    http://www.tingvoa.com/html/20130725/Chinese-Law-Requires-Adults-to-Support-Aging-Parents.html

    "They live in a transition time where have both older and younger generations to look after. Here they have their work and their career. They have to try and manage elder parents, family and work, allocating the right amount of energy and resources."
    • thumb
      Dec 4 2013: I'm Chinese and thanks a lot for your generous help.
  • thumb
    Dec 3 2013: The trend to move to a city is global and not specific to China.
    There are reasons for that.
    Usually in the city you find more opportunities for education, work, entertainment, social life, etc. than in rural areas.

    Using your example, assuming you are living in a small village with your parents in the middle of nowhere but have no job, what good would it be to stick around ? It wouldn't help neither you nor your parents.
    If you move away and get a job, you even could support your parents from the distance.
    • thumb
      Dec 4 2013: But my parents and children will face loneliness.
      • thumb
        Dec 4 2013: And perhaps you will face loneliness as well Vivian? It is not an easy decision that you present, and it's important to consider ALL information. As Harald suggests....if you are staying in a rural village to be with your family because you feel a duty to them, and you have no job, is that helping them or yourself?
      • thumb
        Dec 4 2013: Vivian, parents usually understand that their kids eventually will live their own lives ;-) Will they miss you if you move away ? I'm sure they will, but on the other hand, parents normally want the best for their children, so I imagine, if you are happy they will be happy as well.
        Beside, in our society communication and traveling became so easy so it's not like you are moving to another planet ;-)
  • thumb
    Dec 4 2013: Vivian, Go to any WalMart in the world and you will see kids and their grandparents ... not parents ... this is not new. I was surprised when grandparents started showing up for the parent teacher conferences and the boy scout meetings sans parents.

    One cause may be that there are more single parents due to divorce or unwed parents ...

    Some of this may be because of necessity and some due to selfishness. ... but it is occurring.
  • thumb
    Dec 4 2013: Are you asking whether it is selfish to go work in the city in order to send home money for your elderly parents and child to be able to eat and perhaps go to school or get medical care?

    Separating from ones young child under such conditions would be a great sacrifice, I think, on the part of the person leaving, a sacrifice the person makes to give the family a better life. It can be the most family-minded choice.

    This is not only a modern phenomenon. The practice of the bread winners traveling far and wide to earn enough to support a family back home is not new. Often the bread-winner would leave with the plan to bring the family to join him when he had earned enough to do that.

    Neither of my adult children lives within one thousand miles of me. I would much rather they pursue their professional paths in the way that makes the most sense to them and communicate with me as regularly as they can than to have them stay in my city so that I could see them more often. Their choice serves the family best, in my perspective, and gives them a much better opportunity to use their talents to make a broader difference. The family is extremely close despite physical distances.
  • thumb
    Dec 4 2013: We saw the same trend away from family structure in the United States, at least to some extent, during the industrial revolution and shortly afterwards. Only now are we starting to see a reemergence of family structure, and it's still quite weak. A lot of it has to do with the industrial model of production.

    However, I think that we see this even more in China, possibly because there are so few young people and so many old people. This is due to the one child policy. Basically there aren't enough young people around to take care of the aging population. I think that even China has realized this and this is why they are relaxing the one child policy, although it might be too little and too late.
  • Dec 4 2013: I'm not a specialist of Chinese countryside, but this may be a problem of poverty. People needs moneys (buying clothes, medicine ...) and would not be able to live from agriculture. I rather see this as a sacrifice; work far away to offer an education or a more comfortable life for his family.

    If I were in this situation and leave my family is the only way, I woudl go. And that because I love them.
    It's a sad situation but Chinna development is verry unequal, as demonstrated the problem you mentioned.