Itza' - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Ideally, marriage is monogamous and virilocal. Men and women are said to marry for love, preferring to select a partner from within the community. Women were previously eligible for marriage at age 15 and now may marry at 18. The prospective groom asks several older men to accompany his parents to petition the parents of the bride for their permission to marry. If the woman's parents agree, the man joins them several hours later. If the woman's parents refuse, the couple will probably elope. The groom must buy the bride's wedding dress and another fine dress and pay all wedding costs. After the wedding, the bride remains in her parents' house for eight days and then joins the groom. She either moves to their new house or to the groom's parents' house. Less often, the groom moves in with the bride's family.

Domestic Unit. Newlyweds ideally establish their own household but may stay with the parents of either spouse until they can afford their own house. Children stay with their parents until they marry. The youngest son is expected to remain with and care for aged parents, but this duty may fall to another child.

Inheritance. Spouses hold property rights jointly and are free to bequeath property as they wish. Ideally, children share equally in inheritance from parents; the youngest child, however, may inherit the parental house.

Socialization. Women and older siblings are the primary caretakers of young children. Infants are held or laid in bed or hammocks until they are 10 months old, when they are seated on the floor. When at home, men also care for and supervise children. Breast and/or bottle demand feeding continues for about two years. Babies are in diapers until they are 2 years old, when they are toilet trained. Physical punishment is used, sparingly, after a child reaches 4 or 5 years of age. Children are trained primarily to obey and respect parents. By between ages 10 and 12, children can execute most adult tasks, which they learn mainly by imitating elders.

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