Updated: Apr 15, 2021
In the Zhou Dynasty, there was a young boy named Min Ziqian (闵子骞). Min’s mother died when he was young, and his father remarried to another woman with two children of her own. His stepmother treated him very poorly, but she made sure his father never knew. One winter, the stepmother made three winter jackets. The two for her sons were stuffed with warm cotton, while the one for Min was stuffed with a reed flower, which is fluffy but not warm.
One winter day, the dad and his son went out. The son was driving the horse carriage. The dad noticed his son shivering despite wearing such a fluffy winter jacket. The dad got angry because he thought the son was trying to insult his stepmom, so whipped his son. The whip broke open the jacket, and out came the flowers.
His dad instantly realized that the stepmother had been mistreating his son, and he was furious about it. He planned to go back home and kick the stepmother out of the house. The son knew this and knelt down and pleaded his dad to not kick the stepmother out.
The dad was bewildered and said,
“Why should I not kick out your stepmother when she’s been mistreating you this whole time?”
The son replied,
“With the stepmother here, one son is cold. Without the stepmother, three sons will be cold.”
The dad calmed down and was moved by his son’s filial piety. When his stepmother found out, she was extremely ashamed of herself and improved. The family later achieved great harmony.