The Effects of Unprecedented Demographic Shifts on Asian Family

Growing numbers of Asian parents are having difficulties over collecting some forms of financial supports from their grown up working adult children, reflecting a transformation on earlier core belief of inherent filial obligation mainly due to the rapidly shifting of demographic structures. There are 3 major underlining reasons behind this. 1. Collapsing of traditional supportive roles of family clusters. 2.  Influence of consumerist society. 3. Failures of inculcating the right norms of civic duty and altruism into the offspring.

Gone are the older ways of having cluster of families pooling up their resources for the marriage of a younger couple within the extended families, taking turns of nursing of young infants, taking care of the sick and elderly, dispensing practical advices and at the end an inevitable funeral arrangement where the main part of the expenses are financed by everyone presented at the wake. These supports come in the variety of forms including physical, financial and even emotional. These has been in the practice for a few generations not unlike a family run exclusive private insurance and welfare social security scheme as everyone contributed wholeheartedly as they stand to benefit from it when situations demanded. However, these Asian legacy values had broken down irretrievably due to the increasing shifting of supporting structures from family to society and institution based.  As a matter of fact, when one downsizes family size giving in to the ever escalating cost of decent living life-style , the bottom up supporting structure has a unsustainable low degree of resilience to times of needs, not to mention providing a regular provision  to the parents by the younger generation of working adults as they simply didn’t see the values in it anymore as the underlying fabric of the family based resources allocating society.

In this consumerist society, parents are pressured in the breathless quest to provide the best resources to the offspring for an add advantage in the future increasing competitive labor market, however, like all investments, there are no 100% guarantee on a pays-off and the chances were also drastically reduced with the dwindling number of children per household for more shots at the game representing a classical phenomena of quantity versus quality. Poorer family had too much children to self-sustain and the  richer one didn’t have enough to even replace themselves. In other words, one must invest responsibly on their children and maintain a reasonable reserve for retirement and end of life cares as one can’t simply foolishly throw everything in a single basket. The common misconception among majority of Asian solely treating children as their own investable assets with manageable ROI (Return of Investment) as their key performance index had failed to understand children are actually God given properties for us to manage until maturity and they had  given us much parenting joys and meaning of life and we should be only providing the best tailored to their individual’s potential within our means and any payoff from them should be regarded as extra bonuses rather than treated as their duties and obligation.

Being faithfully  to the extent of foolishly filial are a set of core beliefs and practices that we have come to see as quintessentially Asian, Just as there is no room for complacency, there is also no reason for despondency for seemingly un-filial children who didn’t assume the roles of taking care of their parents. However, parents share important part of the blames of failing to instill responsible behaviors in the children in their upbringing, a process that starts from the crib, as before there can be giving back, there must be appreciation and awareness of the obligation of the adult children towards their parents. If expectations are not established clearly, It will lull them into a false sense of being filial and this will normally led to self-inflicted wounds in future. If there is a lesson to be learnt, it is this: sometimes it is better to demand your terms of financial expectation to the children at the early stage rather than being elusive about it and in the interest of financial well being of a household and as a general guidelines for their peers, its pays to inculcate the expectations in the early stage of the children and perhaps the most effective ways are led by examples, regular reminders to them your own commitment to your own parents, community and charity. Actions do speak alot louder than words in this matter.

In summary, as rhythm is inherent in music, giving back is inherent in all of us and doing the right thing is not always popular, by doing it right will help by more than a mile, the concerns raised above are valid but they are not insurmountable, society peer pressure underlying how we think, feel and behave and some good tradition values still can be retained in the families providing we as parents keep our end of the bargain.

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Charlie Brown Cafe Featured in Channel Newsasia


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