Latinos - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Each person is allowed to seek his or her own mate, but traditionally the elder family members keep close watch to make sure that the choice is an appropriate one. The average age of marriage has increased lately, but typically it is lower than the overall average in the United States. Separate Latino groups have their own marriage customs, but even with American innovations, the wedding and celebrations are large, well-attended, often catered affairs hosted by the bride's family. Postmarital residence is almost always Neolocal, although financial necessity allows for temporary living arrangements with either the bride's or the groom's parents. American-born Latinos who are upwardly socially mobile tend to intermarry more with Anglos, and exogamous Marriage is slightly more common among Latinas of a higher status.

Domestic Unit. Modernization and Americanization, of course, have changed Latino households. Nevertheless, the sense of obligation and responsibility that one owes to family elders and parents remains. This takes many forms, but emphasizes affording them respect and caring for them until death. Machismo, or manliness, is among the traits associated with the patriarchy complex, and male-female relations are often conditioned by the public assertion of male control, especially the positive qualities of providing care and protection for one's home and family. These practices are tempered somewhat by Marian Catholic ideology which places females, especially mothers and wives, in an exalted position.

Inheritance. Land and property is usually transferred to the eldest son, although senior females also have rights. Most traditional practices in the area, however, have given way to American practices.

Socialization. Social class differences account for considerable variation among the Latino groups in their approaches to child rearing. But beliefs in personal honor, respect for the aged, and proper courtship behavior are still stressed by many people in all groups. The bulk of the population follows working-class practices, and new immigrants attempt to continue native ways. Social and economic pressures on family life, however, have weakened parental control in many Communities, with juvenile and adolescent street peers taking on many tasks of socialization.

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