Because this is such a cultural difference between Americans and Singaporeans (or Asians in general) I had to blog about it. It's been eating at me for days.
I found this article in The New Paper this week about Singaporean parents taking legal action against their adult children for not paying to support them financially. Meaning, their kids weren't sending them a check to pay for food or rent, so they essentially "sued" them for it. (Sorry, "sued" is the term that we Americans can understand, ha ha.)
Many of the parents win too. It's a law that falls under the Maintenance of Parents Act. In this act, adult children are forced to give money to their parents after the age of 60 if the parent cannot support themselves alone.
You Americans are scratching your heads in confusion, right? Yeah. I think my reaction was "What?! I read that wrong, didn't I?"
Nope. It's the custom here and it's enforced by law.
Coming from the US, this is a very new concept to me, as far as government involvement goes. Where I'm from, most of us are also taught to take care of our parents if they need it, but Uncle Sam never gets in our face and says "You MUST do it."
Also, I understand that most parents in the States don't require financial assistance because of things like Social Security, retirement savings and such.
However, if the need ever arose, I'm sure that the majority of Americans (that like our parents) would pitch in with no issues about it.
We do, in most cases, take care of them emotionally and physically, but that's usually the just of it. (Now I'm not talking about when they get sick, need a nursing home or long term care and so on. I'm talking everyday life after the age of 60.) We're not heathens, afterall.
Things are different on this side of the globe though. It's not only the right thing to do, it's compulsory. The only way to avoid having to write Mom and Dad a check is if you can prove that they've abandoned, abused or neglected you. If not, tough luck.
Seriously though, how do you really prove that, especially if it happened in the past?
Also, what if your parent is someone with whom you do not get along or even speak to? What if they were so bad with money that they squandered it all away gambling? What if you just simply don't have any extra cash to give out?
The article talks about three different cases of this situation. Two involve questionable parents and one involves someone they claim deserves the compensation.
I don't know though. My thinking is this: If these people were good parents to begin with, shouldn't their children want to take care of their them without having to be told to do so?
Having to get the government involved so that your children will take care of you just seems to be a giant red flag on his or her parenting skills.
But that's just my American opinion. I welcome other view points.
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