Every culture has a unique set of values, traditions, and norms. The general culture of Mexican families has a strong foundation in unity. As with any culture, family life is as much individualistic as it is communal.
Mexico has traditionally been home to a patriarchal family structure, according to the CDC. There were clearly defined roles for mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters in Mexican families. Marianismo is the term for the distinct role of women in Mexican family culture while machismo is the term for the traditional role of men. Women typically portrayed a submissive and dependent role in the marriage relationship.
Mothers and Fathers
A mother was the heart of the family: the one who cooked, cleaned and cared for the children on a full-time basis. Similar responsibilities were also expected of daughters as it was their job to learn how to be a woman from their mother.
Fathers generally took charge of family decisions, and their authority was rarely challenged by either the mother or children. Machismo, defined as the type of behavior corresponding to traditional ideas about men being very strong and aggressive. Boys in Mexican families also expressed machismo in their relationships with other men, where constantly asserting masculinity was expected. These roles are similar to what were the traditional version of American family values before the 1960s and 1970s.
Typically, generations of families live in the same neighborhood or in the same house which reflects the dedication to supporting family members and displaying loyalty no matter what. Familismo, as reported by the CDC, is the value of family over individual needs. Although family is the number one priority amongst many Mexican families, there is also a strong sense of national pride.
Although these roles seem to have clear definition, traditional Mexican families often involve the entire family, which is typically five or more people, in the decision-making process.
Modern Mexican Families
This traditional home life is evolving in many parts of Mexico, especially in northern cities. Everyculture.com suggests that while some Mexican families still have a traditional home life, many others have home lives that look very similar to modern American daily life.
The CDC reports that roughly 89% of Mexicans say they are Catholic, with another 6% saying they are Protestant. Consequently, the church plays a large part in providing spiritual and social support. According to Ethnomed.org, the Virgin of Guadelupe is considered the patron saint of Mexico.
Religious festivities in Mexico are a staple of family life. There are thousands of towns named after saints, such as San Juan, and each hosts an annual celebration of its particular patron saint.
Ethnomed.org also notes that the ancient Aztec religion held a strong belief in balance and supernatural powers. Some of that influence is seen today in remedies used for curing some ailments.
Rites of Passage
Young, Mexican females are honored on their 15th birthday with a quinceanera celebration. The party is full of emotion as the girl's father ceremoniously exchanges her flat, childish style shoes for a demure pair of modestly high-heeled shoes to denote her passage into womanhood. The event is full of sentiment as the young woman dances with her father and the guests look on.
Another touching Mexican cultural tradition is the matrimonial golden coin ceremony. The groom bestows his betrothed with 13 golden coins as a gesture of his trust in her to treasure and care for him and his possessions. Her acceptance of the coins signifies her devotion to love, respect and nurture him.
Government and Politics
In 2000 Mexico began the slow transition from an authoritarian one-party state to an inclusive democracy. Many communities still have minimal trust in the government and seeing law enforcement officials as corrupt is common. This shared negativity builds even stronger commitments to family and neighborhood cooperation and support.
Evolution of Family Culture
In Mexico, like many other countries, the culture continues to evolve as people from other countries become part of the population and new ways of thinking evolve. GlobalSecurity.org suggests these influences have resulted in attitudinal changes in family relationships, especially between husbands and wives, where the roles are becoming less defined and more flexible.
The Ogranisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that Mexicans today claim a higher-than-average life satisfaction rating with women ranking a higher level of satisfaction than men. However, this progression is mainly in the northern parts of the country and traditional spousal relationships remain popular in southern and rural regions. As with any nationality, individual families have their own culture, but remnants of the traditional family culture and the importance of family values in Mexico still remain in many regions.
Mexican Family Culture
Family ties are strong in Mexican culture and have been for centuries. With modern times, come changes, but Mexican families will always be rooted in tradition.