Confucius spoke of four primary virtues: sincerity, benevolence, filial piety (that is love and respect for ones parents) and propriety. All four virtues were important, but the most important, often called the root of all virtues, was filial piety. Confucius never wrote any of his teachings, but is reported to have said:
Of all the actions of man there are none greater than those of filial piety
Filial piety was the backbone of early Chinese society which was strongly patriarchal. A son should both love and respect his parents, provide for them in their waning years, and lead his own life in such a way as to reflect honor upon them. So superior was the will of ones parents that a man was expected to live under the same roof as his parents even after he married as long as they lived. Also, if for any reason his parents were not happy with his spouse, he was obligated by piety to divorce her, regardless of his feelings toward her. Even a cruel and wicked father deserved respect. Confucius anticipated that a son might on occasion feel the need to reprimand his father for some wayward action. If so,the son was to do so as meekly as possible.
Confucius's teaching bears a marked resemblance to the Old Testament Commandment to "honor thy father and mother."