The Ancient Chinese People’s View of the Importance of a Harmonious Family Life

Promoting affection within the family is, in the narrow sense, to take care of
one’s parents. In the broad sense, it includes affection between siblings, harmony
between husband and wife, as well as harmony between other family members. Confucianism
believed that "regulated families" is the prerequisite to "well-governed
states." It was said in Zhouyi (The Book of Changes): "[When the] Family
is rectified, the state is stable." The Classic of Rites says: "Regulated
families bring about well-governed states." A father is kind and a son is
filial, brothers are amicable and a wife is her husband’s echo. These have been
family guidelines upheld by Chinese people for thousands of years. They are principles
of morality and justice which people should believe and obey.

parents, you work so hard to raise me!" is a poetic excerpt from "Laoe"
in the chapter of "Xiaoya" in the Book of Odes, expressing a son’s appreciation
for his parents. It repeatedly describes how hard parents work to raise and take
care of children; and how, when the parents are old, one should pay back their

In addition to this early poem that mentioned respecting parents
and cherishing the memory of parents, there was a book in the Classic of Filiality
in the Confucian school’s works. In it, it can be seen that ancient Chinese people
paid much attention to "filial piety." Filial piety is part of traditional
morality. The Chinese nation has traditionally respected the old and cherished
the young since ancient times. The chapter entitled "The Son of Heaven"
in the Classic of Filiality says: "One who loves one’s parents does not dare
to hate others’ parents; One who reveres one’s parents does not dare to spurn
others’ parents." It promotes harmony among people.

In the chapter
"Xue Er" in Lunyun, Confucius said: "One should try one’s best
to respect and take care of one’s parents." The Confucian School believes
that basic human virtues include respect for parents, love for siblings, devotion
to one’s country and keeping one’s word. Filial piety is most important. Since
ancient times, there has been a saying: "Filial piety is the first among
a hundred good deeds." If a person has filial piety, he will bring harmony
to the family and handle other relationships well. This is why the ancient Chinese
people said: "If the family is harmonious, everything will flourish"
and, "Family is rectified and thus, the state is stable."

this great affection is not unprincipled. In the Spring and Autumn Period, Yan
Zi said to Qi Jinggong, the king of the Qi State: "As long as the father
is amicable, the son is filial, brothers care for each other, the husband is kindly
and the wife is gentle, the family will be harmonious. Society will function normally
by way of courtesy." A father should love his children, but he also must
pay attention to their education; a son and daughter should respect their parents,
but they also should give advice to them as the occasion requires. In a harmonious
family, people should understand and respect one another.

Promoting affection
within the family is a moral tradition for the Chinese nation. We can see profound
affection expressed in many poems which have won universal praise. Meng Jiao’s
"A Poem by a Traveling Son" reads:

The thread in the
hands of a fond-hearted mother,
Makes clothes for the body of her wayward
Carefully she sews and thoroughly she mends,
Dreading the delays
that will keep him late for home;
But how much love has the inch-long grass,

For three spring months of the light of the sun.

poem expresses the poet’s appreciation for the mother, who’s love is so selfless
and grand that it compares with the sun’s grace towards the tiny spring grass.
We can never thoroughly repay it.

Posting date: 5/June/2006
article date: 4/June/2006
Category: Chinese Culture


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