The world has changed. As industrialisation and urbanisation supersede agricultural society and technological innovation is valued more than experience accumulation, and as universal values including freedom, democracy, and human rights flourish, the concept of intergenerational equality has replaced traditional mentality. The function of family has been gradually undermined, rendering the traditional practice of "bringing up children to provide against old age" obsolete. Hong Kong has recently seen the number of elderly neglect, abandonment, violence and abuse incidents skyrocket. It is pitiful that affection amongst family members has become so fragile, and whether our elderly can live a honourable late life is now a major concern.

Many countries and regions have provided incentives in areas including taxation, housing, elderly services and products to encourage children to live with their parents. However, due to the change in family structure, roles and personal values, the discrepancy between the two generations has caused difficulties to co-residence. There are also countries that use legislation to require children to support their parents. Despite the fact that legislation can bring immediate results, traditionally Chinese are both aversive and frightened of lawsuits, with an old saying of "Never enter the court alive nor the hell dead". "Never leaks any home scandals" is another, with many parents thinking that to go to court to claim maintenance from their children is shameful - which is why if we were to use the high pressure means of legislation to achieve the goal of requesting able children to support their needy parents, it is possible that the relationship gap between family members may widen. By introducing mediation as a solution to parental maintenance conflicts, we can prevent the damage to family relationship brought by antagonistic lawsuits as well as alleviate the tension of co-residence.

Recommended Citation

Tang, K. Y. A. (2014). Columnist: Implementing mediation to solve parental maintenance conflicts. Asia Pacific Institute of Ageing Studies Newsletter, 5, 17-18. Retrieved from http://commons.ln.edu.hk/apias_nlj/vol5/iss1/21/