Marriage. In traditional times, most marriages were monogamous, though some wealthy men had more than one wife. Marriages were generally arranged, with infant betrothal not uncommon. Today, marriage is by free choice, although the fathers of both the groom and bride are involved in approving and making arrangements for the marriage. Marriages are marked by three ceremonies—a civil ceremony, church ceremony, and a large feast hosted by the groom's father—reflecting the survival of a traditional practice. Upon marriage, the couple generally live with one family or the other until materials can be obtained to build their own home. In the past, many marriages ended in divorce, which could be initiated by either party for virtually any reason. The Roman Catholic church has made divorce more difficult and less frequent.
Domestic Unit. In the past, the basic family and residential unit was the laterally extended family composed of brothers, their wives, and their children. Today, the nuclear family is the norm, although other relatives such as grandparents and brothers might also be present. In the past and today, the father was the authority figure, although today the wife's father has more power than the husband's father and a son-in-law will often seek his father-in-law's approval for educational and career decisions. Under Chilean influence, the role of godparent ( compadre ) has developed, and godparents often play a role in child rearing.
Inheritance. In the past and today, both men and women could inherit and both men and women could leave property.
Socialization. Puberty in traditional times was marked for boys and girls by secluding them on an island for some months and then holding large separate feasts at the end of the seclusion period. These rites disappeared long ago, and puberty is no longer marked by ritual. The Chilean government provides a school for elementary education and some Easter Islanders attend high school in Chile.