For the Igbo, there are a few key ideas that form the basis of an ideal family: mutual respect for each other, a reverence for all past fathers, and unity. The father is not only the provider for the family, but defender of its honor and teacher of his sons. The mother’s main duty is to add to the family line by bearing healthy children and also to please her husband. Children are the inheritors of the future and are raised to continue the values of the older generation. This family unit is the most fundamental unit of society and its structure can be expanded to fit a whole community or even a pantheon of gods.
Although wives must always act subservient to their husbands, the mother proves to be the most venerated role in Igbo society, even over that of the father.