Chamacoco - Marriage and Family

Marriage. In the past, marriage was arranged by the man who had been responsible for the proper conduct and development of the bride's puberty initiation. He was always of the clan complementary to that of the initiate and had to have demonstrated superior personal qualities while looking after the girl. Rules of premarital courtship and nuptial etiquette were based on the exchange of goods between the families of the bride and the groom. Postmarital residence was uxorilocal; the groom rendered bride-service under strict observation of an avoidance taboo toward his mother-in-law. Marriages of very young couples or people widely separated by relative age were disallowed, and a deliberate restriction was imposed on birthrates. Nowadays, clan restrictions have been relaxed, marriages take place at an earlier age, the divorce rate has increased, and, as in Creole families, so has the number of children.

Domestic Unit. Although the autonomy of the nuclear family has been increasing, the extensive family bonds and coresidence of several generations persist. These generate extensive family networks, which regulate temporary migrations and periodic visits.

Inheritance. Traditionally, the personal belongings of the deceased that were not part of the funeral dowry accrued to the surviving spouse, the nearest relatives, and the gravedigger. Presently, all livestock and valuable belongings are inherited according to Western practices.

Socialization. Although rather permissive during early childhood, the traditional process of enculturation subjected the adolescent youth to ascetic nutritional and sexual discipline and a strict observance of hierarchic rituals. Respect and strict self-control toward people of their own kind were inculcated, whereas extreme aggressiveness in the face of the enemy was exalted. The influence of Paraguayan society is reflected today in harsher treatment of children, sexual permissiveness, and untabooed food consumption by postpuberty youth.

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