Marriage. Legal marriage, monogamy, and the nuclear family are cultural ideals more often attained by the middle and upper classes than by the lower classes. Sexual relations generally begins during early adolescence among the lower-class majority. Extraresidential or "visiting" relationships are usually followed by several coresidential and neolocal "common-law" or consensual unions. Legal marriage occurs relatively late, after the birth of several children and the attainment of some degree of economic security. Marriage is monogamous; divorce is rare but extramarital relationships are common.
Domestic Unit. The composition of Jamaican households varies greatly. Matrifocal units are common, particularly in urban areas. Nuclear families are the norm among the middle and upper classes. Lower-class households often include children of previous relationships, children of poorer relatives, informally adopted children, and children of daughters who have migrated to urban areas or abroad.
Inheritance. Children generally receive equal shares of their parents' property, which, in the case of land, may be held in common.
Socialization. Men are affectionate toward children but are not usually involved in child care. Child rearing is the mother's responsibility, but it is often delegated to an older sister or, increasingly, to the maternal grandmother. Respect and obedience are very important to parents, who threaten or physically punish children when they are "rude." Girls and, to a lesser extent, boys are given many household chores. The emotional bond between a mother and her children, particularly her sons, is very strong and enduring.