The first among 100 virtues
A Chinese proverb calls filial piety, or respect for one’s parents, “the first among 100 virtues.” The ancient philosopher Confucius credited it as the bedrock of social harmony, and a popular song urges grown children to visit their parents often. Communities hold “best children” contests, complete with cash prizes. One county even made filial piety a condition for the promotion of local officials. And generations of Chinese have read the classic morality guide, “The Twenty-Four Filial Exemplars,” where sons strangle tigers, let mosquitoes feast on their blood and proudly scrub bedpans for the sake of their parents.
At home or away
Nursing homes are not an option for most Chinese. The few nursing homes in China supply only 22 beds for every 1,000 seniors, and most are too expensive for the average family. Even children who can afford nursing homes fear sending their parents away will mark them as un-filial.