By Darren Chan Keng Leong
I refer to the Voices commentary “Rethinking what it means to be filial” (Apr 04). I agree with the author, Dr Jeremy Lim that we have to do what is best and right for our parents. However, it should be of mutual consent from both parties.
It is sad to see in Singapore that not all families have made plans for their parents when they get older. Often, the aged parents are left forgotten by their families or are being pushed to nursing homes. This is the reason why filial piety is a family’s responsibility that they owe to their parents for supporting them all this time. As children, we need to reassure our parents that caring for them is the only way to repay them for their efforts in bringing us up.
Sometimes, we hear news reports of children and parents getting themselves in lawsuits due to their children challenging their parents’ inheritance and will. Money is the root of all evil in this context and that money should not mislead us in the reason for caring of our parents.
Parents and their children have to know the situation at hand and think of a solution where the happiness and well-being of the parents are concerned. Institutional placement which is putting our parents in aged homes is seen as an “easy way out” or an excuse for children who do not want to accommodate their parents.
I feel that institutional placement can be a good alternative if it is temporary such as daycare facilities where the aged go to a community center for daily activities from morning to the evening before transportation is arranged to bring them home safely. At day care facilities, the aged are able to interact with others and also being looked after by healthcare professionals. This form of temporary placement is better for the aged as their needs are taken care of.
Filial piety is where children spend quality time with their parents to show them that they still appreciate and love them.Loneliness is not going to disappear with the popularity of retirement villages as children must still take responsibility and interact with their parents. A retirement village is just a nicer name for a nursing home as social interactivity and medical supervision is available but the presence of a loved one can never be replaced. Family is the most important thing in the world.
The concept of being filial as children is to take care of your parents in the best way possible until a certain time for medical reasons, and then a more permanent institutional care should be considered. Parents should be given the freedom to choose their options of either living with their children or independently. Children should evaluate the options to ensure that their parent’s happiness and well-being comes first above other considerations.
Many children would insist that despite having to bear debts and the possibility of depleting their life-savings in caring for their aging parents, they still would to have fulfill their responsibility towards their parents. Perhaps, the government can look in providing subsidised healthcare aid in terms of medical care and caregivers to these families who are struggling in making the best out of their situation. More help and financial planning can be discussed with families who are trying to fulfill their roles as a dutiful son or daughter.
I hope that children see how much sacrifice that parents made when they were young and from there, their conscience should guide them to fulfill their parents’ choices and still be responsible for caring and loving them unconditionally. Filial piety also should be instilled in children when they are young so that they know the importance and value of compassion and love unto others.