Walloons - Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Kinship. Walloon kinship is bilateral. The nuclear family predominates as a household group.

Marriage. Wallonia has a rising divorce rate and a falling marriage rate. Monogamy or consecutive monogamy are the two acceptable marriage types. People are free to choose their own marriage partners. Average age of marriage is mid-to late twenties. (It has decreased over the last century.) Usually people marry within their own socioeconomic class. Upon marriage, most young people set up their own household. They may take children to their parents' house so that grandmothers can babysit.

Domestic Unit. The nuclear family is the norm. An elderly parent often moves in with the family of one of her (sometimes his) children, but it is very common for old people to live alone.

Socialization. Children undergo a different socialization process depending on whether their families are working-class, middle-class, or upper-class. For instance, working-class families value getting a job early more than they do the pursuit of higher education. The opposite is the case among the middle and upper classes. There are 54 nationally certified day-care centers throughout Wallonia, which charge a minimal amount along a sliding scale. A great emphasis is placed on equality in these centers. They even supply clothes so that children are not differentiated on this basis. Upper-class families make more use of hired private nannies. Ninety percent of the Belgians aged 2½ to 5 are in preschool. Education is compulsory for children between ages 6 and 14.

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