Central Thai - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Although polygynous marriage has long been part of Thai culture, most marriages today are monogamous. Marriages are theoretically arranged by the parents, but there is quite a bit of freedom in the choice of marriage partners. Since fellow villagers are often considered relatives, marriages are usually locally exogamous. Marriage with second cousins is allowed. The independent family household, established soon after marriage, is the ideal. More often, though, the couple resides for a short time with the wife's family. Residence with either the wife's or the husband's family on a more permanent basis is becoming more frequent. Divorce is common and is effected by mutual agreement, common property being divided equally.

Domestic Unit. Those people who cook and eat meals around the same hearth are considered a family. This group, averaging between six and seven persons, not only lives and consumes together, but also farms cooperatively. The nuclear family is the minimal family unit, with grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, co-wives, cousins, and children of spouses added on. Membership in the household unit requires that one perform an acceptable amount of work.

Inheritance. Property is divided equally among surviving children, but the child who cares for the parents in their old age (often a younger daughter) ordinarily receives the homestead in addition to her share.

Socialization. Infants and children are raised by both parents and siblings and, in recent times, by other household members. Emphasis is placed on independence, self-reliance, and respect for others. The Central Thai are notable for almost never using physical punishment in child rearing.

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