Losing touch with family traditions
THE Women, Family and Community Development Ministry ad which appeared in The Star over the Chinese New Year made me think about all the elderly parents who are passing the new year feeling lonely and forgotten by their family.
CNY or any festival for that matter is a time for family reunion and celebration.
Unfortunately, this tradition of family get-togethers is fast fading into oblivion.
These days, many young people see the festive holidays as an opportunity to relax at home, enjoy activities with friends or go on a holiday. Those who can afford it will opt for trips to China, Hong Kong or Taiwan.
To them, itís such a waste of holidays and also boring to sit around in their parentsí home in some small town, watching TV all day long.
If not for the festive decorations and the sounds of firecrackers and lion dances, CNY would be just like any other day to them.
With each passing year, fewer adult children are making the effort to balik kampung to visit their elderly parents.
The thought of getting stuck in horrendous traffic jams is enough to put them off from making the trip. So, elderly parents wait at home for their children who may or may not show up.
At old folks homes, the story is the same. The elderly sit around waiting and wondering if their children will remember to visit them.
For many, the only visits they get are from various corporations and NGOs. These kind strangers stay for a while till all the photos have been taken and gifts distributed, then they leave, pleased with their good deed of bringing some cheer to the old folks, and satisfied that they have achieved their CSR objectives for the year.
It is sad that the elderly are often the hapless victims of a society that is slowly losing touch with family traditions and values.
But then again, they have to accept some responsibility too.
Family cohesion has to be nurtured over the years, starting when the children are still young, eager to learn and easy to teach. It takes effort, patience and persistence to instill family values.
And above all, it takes a whole lot of love, not just implicit, but openly expressed and demonstrated through little acts of caring and sharing throughout the childrenís growing years.
Once firmly established, family bonds are difficult to severe, and adult children will never dream of neglecting their elderly parents.
So young parents, take note. Donít wait till you are in your sunset years and then wonder why you donít see much of your adult children anymore. Perhaps itís because you didnít see much of them when they were growing up, when you were too busy pursuing a career or building a business.
When we are strangers to our children, how can we expect care and concern from them in our old age?
The two generations are family in name only. When that happens, we have only ourselves to blame.