Laws to enforce care for parents
I refer to “Laws on neglect unnecessary as power of love keeps family bond strong” (Sunday Star Nov13).
The report touches on the abandoning of aged parents by children and the need to enact laws to force them to take care of them. Neglecting parents is a new phenomenon which may be difficult to understand but unfortunately becoming an acceptable practice even in our eastern cultures where filial piety used to be firmly rooted and admired.
I read with interest the opinions expressed by some on the need for legislation to enforce children to care for their aging parents during their final stages of their lives. I agree with the majority that it is the power of love, not the law that will keep families bonded together. With the increasing numbers of cases of parent neglect, love alone does not seem to yield such power today as it used to be.
It is true that in our Malaysian society we still hold filial piety and family responsibility in very high esteem and the majority of Malaysians still care for their aging parents. However this filial piety that was a pride of our culture, I am afraid, is fast eroding from our lives due to the rapid urbanisation and commercialisation. There are real fears that a day will come when such emotional attachments to our aging and “useless “parents will be lost forever. There are fears that a day will come when our parents will be left abandoned to die in isolation and indignity. It is this fear that has prompted many concerned citizens to suggest that we enact laws to prevent such a pathetic and inhumane situation from taking roots in our society.
It is also interesting to note that the majority of the younger generation are against such legislation as they feel love not laws should be what that should keep the family together. While it may be the ideal situation, unfortunately we are witnessing more and more youngsters are neglecting their parents which should be a cause for concern. On the other hand many aged parents seem to agree that children should be legally bound to care for them as many have experienced the pain of such negligence by their children. They are bitter that the children whom they had brought so painstakingly are not showing any gratitude to them.
The increasing incidence of parent neglect is not an isolated ill in our society but part of a general decay of moral values. We have taken a lackadaisical attitude towards upholding moral values in the pursuit of materialism. It is time for the government to seriously think of ways of reinstating the importance of age-old values that were dear to mankind throughout his history.
We have to put aside our political, religious and racial differences and unite behind our common goodness by adopting the universal moral values promoted by all cultures and faiths. These universal values must be instilled in the young from a very young age in schools like before. Love for one’s own parents form the core of this value system as this transcends race and creed. If we don’t care for our own parents, I don’t see how we can care for others.
Love through education may be the ideal way to promote a caring society but it alone may not be enough to create a caring society in a world driven by materialism alone. Some form of legislation would go a long way to help infuse some good values into the young minds. Parents are held responsible for the well-being of their children when they are young. We are held responsible even for the humane treatment of animals that we rear as pets. Why shouldn’t children be held responsible for the well-being of their aged and ailing parents? We may not be able to force children to love their parents but at least can force them to provide food and shelter to them, especially if the parents are poor, sick and senile? Will that be asking too much from them?
Gratitude is a virtue that even animals have in abundance. For a little food, shelter and love even our pets show their gratitude in ways we don’t understand. Don’t our parents who are responsible for bringing us into the world and sacrifice everything they had to make us up to what we are today deserve a little of our gratitude? If we don’t show our gratitude to them, how can we show that to others in our life? If we cannot show our gratitude to our aged parents how can we expect our children to be grateful to show us when our time comes?