Given the cultural gap, it’s difficult for westerners to understand filial piety. Urgh….this is when I feel I was born to the wrong culture, & obviously the wrong parents. I’m a westernized person trapped in a traditional Asian society that emphasizes filial piety to parents.
Yea, (unfortunately), filial piety is a HUGE part of Taiwanese culture, since we’re deeply influenced by traditional Chinese culture. We learn this — more like, are brainwashed by this– very early on in school– respect & abide by your parents no matter what, re-pay what they do for you by taking care of them when they grow elderly & frail, filial piety is the biggest virtue everyone must strive to achieve … Blah, blah, blah… Dang, it’s all from the thousands of years of influence from Confucianism. In my high school, we even had to memorize the whole book Confucius wrote & took test on it. What a waste of time!
Anyway, even in a democratic country, like Taiwan, the whole society has this tendency to blame adult children for not abiding by filial piety, i.e., it’s like a big moral code maintaining the stability of the society & there are laws supporting this idea, too. It’s like you must immediately forget whatever abuse they did, & perform the duty of a filial son/daughter during parents’ senior years. In Chinese & Taiwanese, there are even many negative words to criticize adult children who do not perform filial duties. That might show how deep this traditional idea runs in our culture, even linguistically.
On a more realistic level, it’s not common for seniors to live in nursing homes bc the social welfare system is much underdeveloped than those in western developed countries. So, most seniors, if they are ill & cannot live independently for whatever reason, tend to move to live with their adult children, & hence creating more conflicts & torments on the children’s side, if they were/have been abused by their parents. In my grandparents’ & parents’ generations, it’s perfectly normal for elderly parents to move in their “chosen” child’s house, be they healthy or not. Most of the elder generation have no such concept as boundaries– they feel they can interfere with your life no matter how old you are!! And you should gladly accept their interference bc you should follow filial piety!!
Which child is the chosen one varies from family to family. My father was chosen bc his income was probably higher than my uncles’. If I don’t break contact with them, they might very likely ask me to be their caretaker if they become ill in the future, since A) they had made me a caretaker & maid for them since I was little & B) the old excuse– you’re single. If you don’t take care of us, who will? C) They’re masters in playing victims & guilt trips to make me conform to filial piety, in their version, sacrificing my life for them …….
In my humble opinion, filial piety offers the free pass to parents who abuse & an invisible shield to hide their abusive behaviors. Personally, I feel so lucky that my parents have 2 free passes/ invisible shields — one from the traditional culture supporting filial piety, another from their belief in Catholicism– “Honor thy father & mother”. They use these free passes so well that probably outsiders, including extended family members, will never find out their abusive nature….