Intergenerational Intimacy: A Redefinition of Filial Piety and Descending Familism in Rural North China
The emergent intergenerational intimacy represents a breakthrough in the Chinese traditional family culture, which required that intimacy be suppressed in order to maintain discipline, hierarchy, and the efficiency of the family as a corporate group, and the omission of obedience in parents-adult children relationship has effectively redefined the norm of filial piety. This dual development continues, instead of contradicts, the above mentioned trend featuring the decline of parental authority and the rise of individual awareness and youth power; yet, they also played a positive role in resolving some problems in intergenerational relationships and reached to the reconciliation, instead of fission, of the two generations. The single most important factor that turned the dual development to the positive side is the centripetal power of the child(ren) in the third generation that draws the attention, love and care from the grandparent and parent generations alike, brings them together in multiple ways, and motivates all adult members of the family group to work extra hard toward the common goal of raising the perfect child who bears the hope of the entire family group. This leads to the rise of descending familism in which the trinity of three generations adapts to different forms of household structure to make the family work better, family resources of all sorts flow downwardly, and more importantly, the foci of one's existential meanings of life has also been shifted from ancestors to the grandchild(ren).