Marriage. Most marriages are monogamous, though fraternal polyandry is allowed and has prestige. Polygyny is very rare. Marriage is supposed to be arranged, though the pattern is changing. Marriage is a long process involving many stages of betrothal and gift and labor exchange. Women receive a dowry when the marriage is finalized, and sons receive their fair share of the parental estate. Divorce is quite frequent, having been estimated as occurring in 30 percent of all Sherpa marriages.
Domestic Unit. The nuclear family residing in a single household sharing a joint economy is the basic domestic unit. Residence is neolocal. When all children have grown, married, and received their shares of the inheritance, parents are supposed to be housed by the youngest son.
Inheritance. Land and herds are divided equally among all male heirs, who are also supposed to be given newly built or acquired houses on the finalization of their marriages. Monks and nuns receive their shares upon their ordination. Female heirs receive a fair division of movable property at marriage, including animals, jewelry, copperware, and cash. Families without male heirs may take in an adoptive son-in-law as heir. The youngest brother inherits the parents' house, while the oldest brother generally inherits offices or titles.
Socialization. Child rearing is handled mainly by mothers and by older sisters if there are any. Fathers are nurturant to children, but Sherpa life entails long and frequent paternal absence because of expeditions, trade ventures, or wage-labor shifts. The treatment of children could be described as being on the indulgent-to-negligent side, though it varies by Individual temperament. Girls are incorporated into the Household economy earlier than boys, as child-care helpers and kitchen workers, while boys play in multiage groups.