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Balancing needs of filial piety and work a challenge

By Xiao Lixin | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-14 06:56

The concept of the traditional Chinese family has undergone radical changes because of the influence and irreversible trend of rapid economic development, which has given rise to the nuclear family. The family planning policy and social mobility, accelerated by urbanization, have helped reduce the structure of three- and even four-generation extended families, replacing them with nuclear families.

Balancing needs of filial piety and work a challenge

[Chen Guoxin / For China Daily] 

The average number of family members dropped from 4.41 in 1982 to 3.10 in 2010. The reduction in family size has curtailed support for the elderly, which was an unwritten law in the traditional family structure.

Since ancient times, Chinese people have believed in the concept of a big family, which is hugely different from that in Western countries. Following the old Chinese saying - filial piety is the most important of all virtues - Chinese people have, as a tradition, believed that it is the duty of grownup children to support and take care of their aging parents. But this long-held tradition faces challenges and has become a hard-to-resolve conflict in today's increasingly utilitarian society.

Some employers are totally indifferent to their employees' family responsibilities and problems and think they or their companies cannot or should not do anything to help them. Worse, they compel their employees to work overtime not only on normal days but also during holidays, and deprive them of their right to get paid leave. As a result, for many workers, annual leave is nothing but wishful thinking.

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