Historically the K'iche' were patrilineally organized into clans and lineages. The missionaries and governors of the Spanish colonial period, however, stressed the importance of the nuclear family. For this reason, present kinship relations are generally bilateral. Remnants of the patrilineal system include a prohibition against marriage with members of one's mother's patrician. In some cases, though, patrilineal relatives are unimportant. Kinship terminology is of the Eskimo type.
Fictive kinship ( compadrazgo ) is prevalent in the region. Compadrazgo is the system of ritual relations between godchild and godparent and between godparent and parent. These relations form the basis of much ritual social interaction at events such as births, baptisms, and graduations.