For Peruvians, one’s family is often considered to be the most important part of life. In Peru, there is a general expectation that individuals remain loyal and committed to their family by putting the interests of their family before their own. Similarly, these close-knit family relations help provide a network of security and support, especially in times of need. Families will often sacrifice much to provide a good education for their children, and in return, children usually care for their parents as they age.
Other non-related people act as important members of a Peruvian’s life. For example, the relationship called ‘padrinazgo’ (godparenthood) is an extension of the family structure. One’s godparents often become ‘second parents’ who are responsible for the child’s religious development and to help the child’s parents in times of need.
The family dynamic and household structure vary, based largely on social classes and geographic regions. For instance, the is the most common household unit and varies in size depending on the family's geographic location. Urban Peruvian families usually have two to three children while four or five is more common among rural ones.
Most Peruvians also have strong relationships with extended and distant relatives. For example, it is common for extended families to live near each other. While couples are expected to establish their households, they usually make efforts to remain in close contact with family members, especially their parents. Peruvians tend to stay at home until they marry or graduate from university and can financially support themselves.
Sizeable extended groups are known as ‘ayllu’ and are an important part of social life and identity for those from rural areas. Since pre-, the ayllu have defined land distributions, authority figures and social obligations within a group. This structure still plays an influential role in defining people’s obligations, roles and identity in village social structures of persons.
The set of attributes that are generally perceived as ideal for males and females in are known as ‘machismo’ and ‘marianismo’ respectively. Under these cultural standards, men are expected to be masculine, self-reliant and dominant. Meanwhile, women are expected to be feminine and the main providers of care. One effect of these attitudes is visible in the differing expectations placed upon men and women regarding the household. Men tend to be responsible for financially supporting the family and are usually consulted for major family matters.
In general, raising children and managing the household finances are the responsibility of the mother. In turn, she usually exerts great influence in family decision making. However, in many middle- and upper-class households, the mother does not usually carry out domestic tasks. Rather, the mother supervises and directs employed domestic helpers and child carers. Women who fill these positions as domestic helpers tend to come from rural, lower-socioeconomic areas, sometimes leaving their children behind to earn a family income.
In recent generations, gender roles and expectations have been gradually changing. attitudes in Peru are considered by many to be a significant problem that leads to feminicidio (‘femicide’). Many Peruvians have engaged in strikes to protest gender violence as part of the ‘Ni Una Menos’ (‘Not One Less’) movement. Women are also becoming more visible and influential in the economic and political facets of Peruvian society. Indeed, it is more common to find women working outside the home in many professional fields.
A popular event for young teenage girls is their quinceañera (15th birthday). This event is believed to mark a girl's transition to adulthood. It is celebrated throughout Peruvian society, regardless of the family's socioeconomic standing. Boys usually celebrate their transition into adulthood at age 18.
Dating and Marriage
Peruvians tend to start dating when they are in their mid to late teenage years. Young couples tend to meet at school, community events or parties. Group dating is prevalent among the youth, whereby a group of single men and single women will organise an outing, with the hopes of forming a romantic partnership. Since Peru is quite a class-conscious society, people often marry those from a similar socioeconomic as well as background.
Couples will date for a number of years before deciding to become engaged. Couples may remain engaged for a year or more, in part due to long waits to secure a ceremony date at a church. Civil marriages tend to be popular in urban areas and often serve as a cheaper alternative to a traditional church wedding. Regardless, a civil wedding is required for the marriage to be legally recognised. A church wedding can only take place after a civil wedding. The latter is usually small, with only family members attending while the former is typically much larger and extravagant. The couple will usually invite many friends and relatives to celebrate in a large reception with music, dancing, food and drinks. Cohabitation before marriage was once quite rare but is now becoming more common. One reason for this is the money and resources required to fund a wedding ceremony may take a couple of years to accumulate.
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