Latinos - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. Family life is important to Latinos, especially extended kin networks, even though Anglo-American influences have altered traditional patterns. Family interests are valued over individual well-being. A syncretic mixture of indigenous and Catholic religious beliefs and practices undergirds this sense of familism. Although somewhat revamped in the United States, the compadrazgo (co-parenthood) institution of Latin America is widely practiced in baptisms, where godmothers and godfathers become comadres and compadres of the baptized child's parents. Descent is bilateral with a strong emphasis on patriarchy in how the family sets standards for status, respect, and authority. Generally, a sex and age hierarchy prevails, and often elder kin, especially grandparents, are vested with complete authority in family affairs; they sometimes take over primary care of grandchildren when parents falter. There are some intragroup Latino differences in family structure that stem from time, place, and history. For example, female-headed households are more common among Puerto Ricans; Mexican Americans have larger families on average, and Cuban Americans tend to have the smallest families. Mexican Americans in rural enclaves in south Texas and New Mexico generally embrace traditional family practices and beliefs, such as are found in Mexico proper.


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