My friends and I were talking at lunch the other day about China's population woes. Of course, we have our own population problems here, but those are issues for a different post. This one is about caregiving.
In Chinese culture, the son supports and cares for the parents in old age. In Western cultures, the opposite is true. Well, I should say the daughters care for the parents if there are any (daughters) the majority of the time. Why is this? (I do know of at least two cases among my extended family or friends where the son is the caregiver. In one case, he was the only child. In the other, the mother prefers him to take care of her major needs, but one of his sisters does a lot of the daily work, too.)
Both cultures raise their daughters to be nurturers. I seem to remember an Irish proverb or blessing that had something along the lines of this in it: "May you have a daughter to comfort you in your old age." I can't find it at the moment, but I know I've heard it. You know, strong sons to work the land and a daughter to comfort you, yadda yadda. How do Chinese sayings refer to daughters? What about Indian sayings? Arab? Israeli? The various African tribes? The South American tribes? I know what most Western societies think.
I feel this is a valid question. How do other cultures deal with caregiving? Who does the majority of the daily work? Do the parents move in with the caregiver, or does the caregiver move in with the parents? Are extended families involved? I should ask my aunt if there are any studies on this.
Incidentally, I think she's been taken over by a pod. My grandma, too. Both are being positively pleasant lately. They must be softening up my mother and me for a major offensive.