Despite the growing number of nuclear families in big cities, most adults in the eastern metropolis of Shanghai are on good terms with their parents, whether they live under one roof or not.
In a survey by the municipal women's federation, 93 percent of respondents said they were getting along well with their own parents and 82 percent said they were on good terms with their parents-in-law.
Seven percent of those surveyed said relations with their parents were "so-so" or "unsatisfactory", and 18 percent were not getting along with their in-laws.
In a disagreement with their parents or in-laws, one-third of the 1,006 families surveyed said they would forsake their own ideas and follow the elders' advice; another third said they wouldkeep persuading the elders; and the rest would simply persist in their own way.
Further analysis shows that well-educated people tend to rely less on their elders in decision-making, whereas those with little education are more likely to listen to their parents.
Over 70 percent of the respondents chose not to live with their elders, while only 27 percent, mostly low-income families, said they preferred having three generations under one roof to take better care of the elders.
Though the overwhelming majority did not like the idea of living under the same roof as their elders, 55 percent of those surveyed said they would visit their elders regularly and take care of their basic needs.
A separate and independent life is also desired by most parents. Of those aged 55 and over, 60 percent said they liked to live on their own and 13 percent were willing to live at a senior citizens' center, which analysts attributed to the stable income and stronger sense of independence among senior citizens in Shanghai.
Despite the decreasing role elders play in the family decision-making process, the open-mindedness and independence of most elders and the care and financial support from their children normally maintain good family relations, experts say.
Meanwhile, Shanghai Women's Federation has called for better communal services to ensure a secure and happy life for elders living away from their children.
(Xinhua News Agency July 8, 2002)