Keeping distance from our children

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Keeping distance from our children

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According to a report by the city of Seoul, 484,663 people between the ages of 30 and 49 lived with their parents in Seoul as of 2010. This number is a 91 percent increase from 10 years before. And surprisingly, 39.5 percent of the parents over age 60 living with their children said that they were supporting their children — not the other way around.

They live together because “the children cannot afford independent living” and “the children need help with housework.” A surprisingly small amount — about 32 percent — said they were supported by their children.

These kids in their 30s and 40s are the product of compromise. The children choose to rely on their parents when they were going through financially unstable times or wanted to save money.

The baby boomers born between 1955 and 1963 are more radical. According to a survey by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, 93.2 percent of the baby boomers who responded that they wanted to live only with their spouse or alone when they grow older. They want to get care from senior homes, hospitals or spouses. Only 2.7 percent expect their sons to care for them, and 1.1 percent wish to rely on their daughters. So we all need to be prepared for the changing trend in senior care.

These changes are already having an impact on Koreans’ lives. A relative of mine has been making plans to move to a smaller and cheaper housing. He was initially looking for a three-bedroom apartment so that his son’s family could stay over. But people advised him that a two-bedroom apartment would be good enough and would discourage his son’s family from staying over all the time.

I also heard about the children of a wealthy father who checked into an expensive luxury senior residence. The father began to purchase designer bags and other luxury goods when he fell in love with an old lady from the senior housing. The children decided to speak with him about his lavish spending habits, but the father got upset and accused his kids of eyeing his fortune.

The devoted fathers and selfless mothers of yesteryear are long gone. Now, as Koreans get older, we want to maintain a healthy distance from our children and take care of ourselves — that is if our children can do the same for themselves.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Noh Jae-hyun
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