If you did not go to your parents' house over the holidays, especially if you did not have a desire to do so, thank your lucky stars that you are not living in China after this announcement. China's government has just passed a law requiring adults to regularly visit their parents or risk being sued.
The move comes as a reaction to a variety of factors putting stress on the family unit. China's population has seen their lifespan increase rapidly - from 41 years to 73 years in just five decades, according to the Associated Press. At the same time, market reforms mean that children often must move to urban centers to find employment, breaking up the traditional extended family unit. In addition, China's one-child policy as a means to curb its huge population has created a rapidly aging population, a threat to its economic and political powerhouse.
As non-communicable diseases like Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia become more prevalent, and with little support system in place to care for sick aged individuals, there is often no one to care for the elderly. BBC reports that there are limited affordable options for retirement homes and caretakers in the country.
The law also comes as a result of several high-profile cases of elderly parents being neglected or mistreated by their adult offspring. One case in the prosperous eastern province of Jiangsu made headlines when a 90-year-old woman reported that she was kept in a pigsty by her son for two years. News outlets also frequently report on adult children attempting to seize control of their parents' assets without their knowledge.
The law does not state how often adult offspring must visit their parents. However, the law does say that parents can take their children to court if they feel neglected.