Atoni - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage, an ideal and norm that marks adult status, is viewed as establishing or maintaining alliances between local lineages. Marriages may be arranged to continue old alliances, or an individual may choose a spouse and their marriage will then establish new alliances. In either case, parents and lineage-mates are involved because marriage establishes continuing relationships between wife givers and wife takers that are important in daily and ritual life. Bride-wealth is paid over time and goods are exchanged between affinal allies at subsequent life-cycle ceremonies. The amounts and the duration of payments vary in different Atoni territories and, within the same territory, by social status as well as by the type of alliance made. In general, marriages to persons more closely related through previous marriages, or to persons from the same or nearby villages, require lower payments than marriages to more distant persons. Postmarital residence is normally virilocal, though it may be temporarily uxorilocaL Divorce and remarriage are possible though not frequent and may entail bride-wealth repayment depending upon determination of fault.

Domestic Unit. The domestic unit is normally a nuclear family of about five persons (extended families are uncommon), and occasionally includes "borrowed children" from other families or widows/widowers. Widowed or divorced persons, however, often live alone or with a child or grandchild in a separate domestic unit, usually near close relatives.

Inheritance. Atoni may distinguish between inherited property, which remains within a patrilineage and normally goes to sons, and property acquired in a marriage, which may be inherited by a spouse and/or male and female children. The former category, not extensive, may involve heirlooms or orchard land. The latter may include orchards, livestock, or money. There is pressure to keep property within patrilineages or close affinal groups.

Socialization. Children are socialized mainly within the nuclear-family-based domestic unit or by mother's brothers (the primary wife givers), and they participate in the work of the parents. Gender differences are marked early in life. Both parents socialize and educate young children through public verbal and physical affection and discipline. Corporal punishment of children by parents, of younger siblings by older siblings, and of females by males is considered acceptable. As children grow toward adolescence, they must show public deference to all elders, including parents, although they may be closer to their mother's brothers and father's sisters than to other elders. There are no initiation rites nowadays outside church christening ceremonies, although warfare played a role in that regard in the past for young males. From 1970 to 1990, school education expanded considerably for young people.

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