Creoles of Nicaragua - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriages sanctioned by church and state are the ideal, but common-law relationships are widespread and may even be prevalent. Creoles generally marry Creoles from their own communities; in the rural areas, however, there has traditionally been significant intermarriage between Creoles and Garifuna and Miskito. Creole/mestizo marriages are more common in the urban areas. Creole unions are relatively unstable, especially among young adults. An individual may have children with a number of partners and may even establish domestic relations with them before settling into a more permanent relationship in middle age.

Domestic Unit. The independent nuclear-family household under the nominal control of the husband/father is the ideal; however, extended families constructed around the mother-daughter-daughter's children triad are quite common. There is a cyclical relationship between these two household types. Young adult women and their young children often live in their mothers' extended-family households. These daughters may subsequently establish separate nuclear-family households with their male partners and their own children. Often, when these women are no longer of childbearing age, they themselves become the heads of extended-family households, in which some of their adult children and their daughters' children reside. It is very rare to find more than one nuclear family living in the same household.

Inheritance. Inheritance is bilateral; sons and daughters inherit equally. Land may be inherited by siblings as a group, although this often leads to disputes.

Socialization. Grandparents, parents, and older siblings—especially females—raise the children. All Creole children attend school: the curriculum is regulated by the Nicaraguan state, but the missionary churches are very influential socializing agents, through their religious instruction and their control and staffing of many schools.

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