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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Your Role As Your Parents Age

I just recently came across this short filmed called "Mi Tes Mi Taw" or translated in English "Hands and Feet". It's basically about the roles of Hmong daughters and sons. Although I glazed over the fluff and metaphorical of hands and feet and how that's relevant.

Although I think the film was well scripted and produced, I disagree with the overall message. It was a modern day film but still had an old school message.

If you haven't seen it yet, please watch it before you continue reading.

It had the voice-over of the daughter/sister of the family speaking to her brother about his role in the family and how he's responsible for taking care of the parents after she leaves to marry into her husband's family.

The mother of the two siblings grows old and becomes more difficult to take are of, and the son faces the difficult choice of putting his mother into a home and is pressured to make this decision by his wife. At the end of the film, the sister speaks to her sister-in-law making some soft-spoken but passive-aggressive comment about how she hopes she raises her sons better so she doesn't suffer like her mom alone and in a home.

I understand it's a difficult choice on how to treat your parents and provide them with the care they deserve when they become unable to take care of themselves. However this decision is not on the eldest or youngest Hmong son alone nor is the daughter-in-law to blame if she's unable to provide the care needed and wants her husband to put his parent in a home.

Nowadays parents are not staying with only the eldest or youngest son. They stay with the child who is willing and able to take them in, or they are living on their own. It's actually more common now for Hmong parents to be put in a home. In fact, my grandma was in an assisted Hmong run home with several other Hmong parents. And guess what? My grandma had 6 sons. Are they all bad sons?

Also how qualified are children to take care of their parents? We are not all trained to deal with ailments of old age. The care of elders is 24-hour care. Is a person able to provide the care they need and maintain the care for their children (if they have any) and their other job (if the have one)? Who are we to judge how one makes this difficult decision? Especially who is the daughter to judge her brother and sister-in-law? They are one family. If her brother wasn't able to care for their mother, and she thought her mother deserved a different life. She shouldn't have so passively sat around and did something about it. It's easy to blame others and judge others, but it's best to self-reflect and look at your own actions first. What was holding the daughter back from caring for her own mother? Culture? Obligated role?

I think it's great that there are talented Hmong film makers with modern skills and less cheesy films, but let's maintain this modern with some modern day thinking. 

What did you think of the short film? What are your opinions on the topic?

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