Shan - Marriage and Family

Marriage. There are no preferred marriage partners. With the restriction that children of siblings are considered too closely related to marry, choice of marriage partner is left to the individual. Once a marriage partner is chosen and meets with parental approval, the parents negotiate the gifts from the groom's side to the bride and the contributions from the bride's side. If the match does not meet with parental approval the couple may elope, although this usually entails smaller exchanges. Postmarital residence is usually initially with the wife's household, although this arrangement is negotiable; after a period of time, the couple establishes an independent household. Divorce is easy; the couple separates and divides any common property. If there are children, older relatives may encourage the couple to settle their disputes. Children may choose to live with either parent or some other relative.

Domestic Unit. A household consists of the people who live, work, and eat together, minimally a couple and their children. Occasionally one person or a divorced or widowed spouse and his or her children will maintain an independent household. Households may also contain grandparents, married children, and distant relatives. Unlike among Northern Thai, there is no restriction on more than one married couple living in the same household.

Inheritance. Inheritance is bilateral; half siblings have shares in their parent's property and in property their parent helped develop.

Socialization. Children are taken care of by their parents and other relatives. Small children are indulged and humored but are taught early to share with younger children. Once they reach age 6 or 7 they are expected to understand and do what they are told. Children are allowed to play together without adult supervision, although if there is fighting adults quickly break it up. Both boys and girls take early responsibility for washing their own clothes, but girls are likely to have more domestic chores.

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