Yukateko - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Marriage is and has been expected of all adults, and in fact almost all Yukateko adults are married; those who are not are considered childlike in a number of contexts. Mexican law requires civil ceremonies for all, with those who can afford it also having a church service. In either, their parents' compadres, who are the couple's godparents, play a crucial role as they support and advise the couple, publicly and privately. First-cousin marriages are avoided. Postmarital residence is usually either neolocal or patrilocal, and divorce is uncommon.


Domestic Unit. Extended families are often still important, especially in maize production, but with wage labor at tourist centers increasing as an economic option, nuclear families, with spouses often separated for long periods of time, are becoming increasingly common.

Inheritance. As imposed by Spanish conquerors, Mayas acquire both of their parents' first surnames, with the father's being first. Property is divided only when both parents have died and the children have married.

Socialization. Parents seem quite lenient, and although Maya life is typically very demanding, great tenderness often exists between parents and children. A major paradox for parents is the conflict between maintaining pride in traditional culture and sensing the need for children to pursue economic opportunities outside the village. Toward this end, many parents will speak to their children in whatever little Spanish they know, although a high degree of Maya monolingualism is still evident. There is often great ambivalence for both parent and child if children leave, either to attend high school or to seek wage labor.

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