Marriage. Men usually marry between the ages of 16 and 20, women, between ages 14 and 16—that is to say, earlier among the Guarijío than among mestizos. When a daughter marries or goes to live with a man, her parents, depending on their financial situation, will give her a dowry, which generally consists of cattle or beasts of burden. This is done so she will not be poor. The custom of "bride theft"—especially when there is not enough money for a proper marriage—is widespread. The couple agree to a particular night on which the young woman will leave her paternal home and go off with her future husband.
Marriages are ideally endogamous, but nowadays there are exogamous marriages as well. Women marry basically out of moral and social considerations. Men marry to find a partner—a wife whose help will leave them free to pursue the economic activities required to maintain an independent family unit. Second marriages and adultery are common and more easily accepted than in modern, Westernized Mexican society.
Domestic Unit. Residence patterns and family structure are nuclear and patriarchal. Within the family, the father is an authority figure, and on him rests all the responsibility for making family decisions. The average number of children per family is around seven.
Inheritance. The family does not act as an economic collectivity, but, because of its patriarchal structure, control over certain means of production does rest with the head of the family. Upon his death, this control and concomitant authority pass to the son he has chosen to succeed him.
Socialization. Guarijío women breast-feed their children as long as they demand it or until another child is born. As infants grow older they are given more solid food in conjunction with breast-feeding. When a child begins to sit up, he or she is left on the ground to learn to sit, stand, and crawl alone. Mothers, fathers, or siblings guide children; women are in charge of educating them. Children of school age are needed to perform agricultural chores.