Arab Americans - Kinship, Marriage and Family

Marriage and Family. Arab marriage and kinship practices vary somewhat by religion and recency of arrival, but usually stress lifelong marriages, a preference for religious and ethnic group endogamy, marriage of cousins, extended Families, patrilineal descent, and bifurcate-collateral (descriptive) kinship terminology. Surnames are patrilineal. Data on intermarriage with non-Arabs are virtually nonexistent. Generally, recency of immigration, degree of ethnic group cohesiveness, and religiousness mitigate against interreligious marriages, though marriages across Arab regional and national lines are allowed as long as religious group endogamy is maintained. Arab affiliation is usually traced patrilineally, though women are delegated the responsibility of transmitting ethnic and religious awareness to the children. In many mixed marriages, particularly of Arab men to non-Arab women, the wives often play important roles in promoting Arab cultural heritage within the family and the ethnic community.

Socialization. As with North Americans generally, early socialization takes place in the immediate family. Arab parents are extremely indulgent, though they may resort to physical punishment. Socialization as an Arab takes place in the home, through attendance at "Arabic school" on weekends, and in youth groups at the mosque or church. Weddings, funerals, and other community gatherings offer occasion for further socialization into the ethnic group.

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