If you live in Shanghai, that is…

By Kandi Short

I recently read an article titled, “Shanghai Says People Who Fail to Visit Parents Will Have Credit Scores Lowered,” which was published via Ciaxin Online on April 11, 2016. I encourage you to read the full article, but here is an excerpt:

The government of Shanghai says that under new rules residents who fail to visit their elderly parents will get black marks on their credit records.

A new set of regulations released recently by the government of the eastern city says that adult children living apart from their parents should ‘visit or send greetings often.’ Parents who think their children are not fulfilling this responsibility can file lawsuits against them for neglect.

If the offspring still refuse to follow through with their obligations after a court tells them to, they will have their credit standing negatively impacted,’ Luo Peixin, deputy director of the city government’s law office, said on a news conference on April 6.

While this new, rather extreme, rule does not directly affect life here in the U.S., I can’t help but wonder if maybe it’s not that far fetched of an idea. Should adult children be negatively impacted for neglecting the social, emotional, physical and/or financial well being of their senior parents?

“That’s crazy! What kind of foolish government system would make grown adults financially accountable for their grown adult parents? That would never happen here in the U.S.”

Well, someday it just might be the same government system that makes grown adult parents financially accountable for their grown adult children . . . .

Senior Parents vs Adult Children

I currently live and work in a college town where I hear first hand the ups and downs of the college application process, more specifically financial aid qualifications. Currently, all college students who are under the age of 24 are still considered dependents and must include their parents’ income information when applying for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Keep in mind that even if the student has been living “independently” since they were 18 — receiving no financial assistance from family — they are still considered a dependent and must include their parents income information on their financial application. This obviously impacts how much financial aid they will — or more to the point, will not — receive.

“But that’s the way it should be! Those kids are just starting out in life, parents should be more responsible for them. Parents should be required to be financially responsible for their own child’s college education, instead of making the government foot the bill.”

If that is your train of thought right now, then shouldn’t it work both ways? Shouldn’t we be equally responsible when our parents reach an age where they need more assistance, more attention, more care? Should we not be held legally and/or financially accountable for our senior parents, in the same way as we are held accountable for our college-bound adult children?

Ideal World vs Real World

In an ideal world, our residents would be inundated with visitors — friends and family alike. Alas, we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a world where one city — a city that currently emcompasses a population of over 20 million people — has felt it necessary to pass a law requiring family members to care for their own or risk financial consequence. That is reality, a very sad reality . . . that it has become that much of problem that it takes government fear tactics to force people to take appropriate measures in caring for their own Mom or Dad.

So what do you think? Are you inwardly chanting, “Well done, Shanghai! Stick it to them!” Or are you wondering how much good will it do . . . to have a bunch of resentful, annoyed family members sitting in your lobby, just so they can get a stamp on their “visitor” card to prevent a bad mark on their credit score?