Parents need our care too

OPINION

  • It's pretty easy for Millennials to help out their parents when they're already living at home.
It's pretty easy for Millennials to help out their parents when they're… (Corey R. Minkanic file for…)
August 18, 2013|By Jen Kim, @thisjenkim | For RedEye

We can thank China for many trends: orange chicken, poorly dubbed kung-fu action flicks and cheap Louis Vuitton knockoffs, to name a few—all things that have become important fixtures in the average American's life.

However, there is one recent trend from China that I don't foresee hitting U.S. shores anytime soon.

With a law that went into effect in July, the Chinese government now requires adult children to frequently visit their elderly parents and ensure their financial and spiritual needs are met. This law, called the "Law of Protection of Rights and Interests of the Aged," was designed to help the country alleviate the burden of supporting a ballooning number of elderly people by putting the onus on their kids.

Already, you may be able to see why a law like this would never work here. The most glaringly obvious reason is that it's completely unnecessary—after all, a whopping 36 percent of Millennials already visit their parents on a permanent basis, because they still live at home.

The second is reason is we're poor. We aren't able to offer much spiritual or financial support—unless you count splurging for dinner off the dollar menu at McDonald's after digging up all the loose change from the couch in the family room.

Many adult children in America find themselves still wholly dependent on their parents. The problem is not that we don't see them enough, but maybe we see them too much.

I'm both ashamed and sad to admit that I spent a good six months at home in my childhood bedroom while I was unemployed in my late 20s. It was not a good feeling to fall asleep next to the same Leo DiCaprio "Titanic" posters from my youth. I felt as far from being "king of the world" as humanly possible.

Nowadays, I've moved out and moved on. I'm hundreds of miles away from my mom, but I still freak out and call whenever a minor emergency happens—I guess it's just a habit after having relied on her for so much.

Recently, I apologized for continuing to unload all of my burdens onto her, even though I am a full-grown adult.

Her response was both unexpected and bizarre. She said that she wanted to be there for me. She loved that I could still come to her as a parent and that I needed her.

It was weird. Who knew my mom, after three decades of being my mom, still seemed to enjoy the gig.

I'm not advocating living at home during adulthood or anything—particularly if you enjoy sanity and the occasional medicinal herbage. But I do see how this new Chinese law could have benefits that go beyond providing financial support.

Seeing parents too much may not be ideal, but neither is not seeing them enough. After all, cultivating relationships requires some face time. So excuse me while I go video chat my mom. You should too.

Jen Kim is a RedEye special contributor.

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