Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Beware boomer grandparents

  • Print

If you’re a grown-up with parents, you may think it’s a major pain to have to take time out of your busy life to go see them or have them over. You may get tired of their hints that they don’t get enough attention. You may even have to listen to resentful complaints or demands. Plus those questions about why you let your kids get away with (fill-in-the-blank) ...

Think you’ve got it tough? Some of your contemporaries in China gladly would trade places with you.

That’s because in the world’s most populous nation, attending to your filial obligations is no longer entirely up to your discretion. It’s a legal obligation. The government has enacted a law mandating that children visit their parents and that employers give the children time off to do so. And if Junior shirks his duty, Mom and Dad can sue him to force compliance.

Chinese culture has long placed a heavy emphasis on respect and care for parents. "While father and mother are alive," said Confucius, "a good son does not wander far afield." But in China’s fast-paced modern economy, many sons and daughters take jobs far from where they were raised, and see their parents only rarely.

That doesn’t sit well with the elders. "I know the person who drafted this provision, and the first thing I told him was, ‘Really nice move,’" Ninie Wang of the Gerontological Society of China told The New York Times.

Americans who have not reached middle age may consider such remedies laughable. What they may not have considered is that the ranks of seniors are being rapidly augmented by the baby boomers, who have long enjoyed the power that goes with outnumbering every other generation. Boomers are used to getting their way, and they are not about to give that up just because they’ve got gray hair and creaking joints.

No sirree. Boomers pushed Frank Sinatra and Perry Como aside for the Beatles and Stones. They got the draft abolished. They got the voting age changed from 21 to 18. They got the drinking age lowered for them — and then raised for their kids.

They think the world revolves around them because for two-thirds of a century, it has. In retirement, they will have not only outsized numbers but even more time to spend arranging the world to their satisfaction.

The generations that follow them have long worried about paying to keep Social Security and Medicare benefits at the level these fledgling seniors have been led to expect. But boomers will not be bought off with mere money. They will expect time with the kids — and the grandkids. They will expect company for Sunday dinners and summer trips. Birthdays and holidays — you can guess.

What if they don’t get what they want? Well, the Chinese have devised one option. And if we know anything about our politicians, it’s that they have no desire to take on a bunch of cranky old folks with a habit of showing up on Election Day.

A couple of decades back, seniors who were protective of their retirement benefits earned the nickname "greedy geezers." Greedy? Kids, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Soca and Reggae Festival and Weekend Weather

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google