Calabrese - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage is celebrated within the Catholic church, and matches are often arranged. A woman is expected to be chaste before marriage, and courtship is carried out under the watchful eye of the family and community. Long courtships are common, and age at marriage is generally in the mid-twenties for women and late twenties or early thirties for men. Marriage is expected to be for life, and divorce is not an option.

Domestic Unit. The household consists, as a rule, of the nuclear family. Families tend to have many children, though high infant mortality rates keep families small. The widowed parent of either the husband or wife may, for economic reasons, move in. When this occurs, it is generally the case that a widowed mother will move in with her married son, while a widowed father will live with a married daughter. This is intended to avoid conflicts with regard to household authority, but in practice such arrangements are rife with tension—particularly between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. It is generally understood that these arrangements, when they occur, are far less than ideal. In practice, although the Domestic unit consists of the husband-wife pair plus their children, the residential unit is quite frequently a female-headed Family, as husbands are gone for much of the year to work in the north or out of the country.

Inheritance. Those who have real property are a small Minority of the population, but among them land tends to pass to sons rather than daughters. A daughter's inheritance, if there is to be one, usually passes to her as a marriage settlement, in the form of household goods.

Socialization. The mother is the primary care giver for young children and often remains their sole adult focus until they reach maturity. Older daughters are expected to help care for their younger siblings as soon as they are competent to do so. Free schooling is available and is mandatory for the first few years, after which usually only the boys—and only a small percentage of those—go on to higher levels of education.

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