The characteristics of Venezuelan families are based on love, respect, tolerance and cooperation. The family is the nucleus of a society and constitutes an essential element in the formation of citizens since it is the first contact that an individual has with the community.
Likewise, it is within the family nucleus where an individual learns to communicate and interact, while at the same time acquiring ethical and moral values that will later be reinforced. The axis of Venezuelan societies does not reside in marital alliances, nor in commercial practices, nor in religious ideology, but in the family.
In Venezuela, families do not differ much from the characteristics conceptualized above. However, Venezuelan families present some additional aspects that are directly related to the culture of this country.
Diverse are the authors who have dedicated themselves to the study of the structure of the Venezuelan family. For example, José Vethencourt who considers that the family organization system in Venezuela is atypical because it does not follow the “pre-established” norms.
For his part, Alejandro Moreno points out that, in effect, Venezuelan families are atypical when compared to European families. However, this author affirms that the family structure of Venezuela is common within Latin American standards and represents the authenticity of the region.
List of legal and cultural characteristics of Venezuelan families
1 – Free associations
According to the Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela, families are free associations that make up a society and are the nucleus in which the development of Venezuelans begins, since it is the first contact between an individual and society.
Likewise, the Constitution indicates that family relationships are based on equal rights and duties, on solidarity, on common effort, on mutual understanding, and on reciprocal respect among the members.
Marriage, understood as a legal process ( de jure ) is protected by Venezuelan law. Likewise, concubinage, understood as a consensus between a man and a woman ( de facto) that complies with the provisions of the law, is considered for all purposes like any other marriage.
2 – Relationship by consanguinity or by affinity
The Civil Code of Venezuela establishes that the members are united by kinship ties, which can be by consanguinity or by affinity. Kinship by consanguinity refers to blood ties, while kinship by affinity refers to legal ties (marriage, for example).
In the same way, the civil code establishes that a spouse and the blood relatives of the other are family (by affinity) and this bond remains even after divorce. For their part, adopted members of a family are considered consanguineous before the law.
On the other hand, the Civil Code establishes that the proximity of kinship is determined by the number of generations that separates a member of the family from estrus; each of these separations constitutes a degree.
The relationship between father and children is of the first degree; between grandparents and grandchildren, it is second grade; and between uncles and nephews, it is third grade.
In Venezuela, most of the population lives in nuclear families, that is, parents and children live in a house. However, the other members of the family, grandparents, uncles and cousins, live nearby or visit each other constantly.
In the same way, when migrations occur that force members of a family to separate, they usually keep in touch through alternate routes.
In this sense, the members of a family are not only attached to the other members of the nucleus, but also have formidable relationships with the members of their extended family.
4 – Support
As expressed in the Constitution of Venezuela, Venezuelan families are based on principles of cooperation and mutual understanding, constituting a reflection of the community that characterizes Venezuelan society in general.
Because of this sense of unity, young Venezuelans live with their parents until they have graduated from university or until they are able to support themselves. Even after they have left their parents’ home, their children continue to be supported by them.
5 – The role of mothers
Despite the fact that Venezuelan society is based on a patriarchal model (which favors the figure of the man), women are in charge of family affairs. Venezuelan mothers generally manage the household income.
Mothers are a figure of stability within the Venezuelan family and, in the same way, they are the ones who make the most important decisions.
Some families more deeply rooted in ancient values prefer that the man be the one who works while the woman takes care of the household chores and taking care of the children. However, due to the influence of Western societies and women’s liberation movements, most mothers enter the labor force just like men.
The figure of Venezuelan mothers has been studied by various authors, such as Peattie, Pollak-Eltz and José Vethencourt.
The latter points out that Venezuelan families are atypical because they are based on a matrix-centered system (in which the mothers are at the head of the family).
6 – The role of grandmothers
In the Congress on the Family and Marriage in the Caribbean and Central America, whose main theme was matricenterism in Latin America, it was concluded that the matricenter system was insufficient to express the reality of Venezuela. Since in this country not only the mother is a prominent figure, but also the grandmother.
If possible, it is usually the grandmothers who take care of the children, acting as governesses for the grandchildren. The figure of the grandmother is relevant to most Venezuelans because it represents a second mother.
7 – Less rigid relationships between parents and children
The Venezuelan family, like any other, is based on relationships of respect. However, the relationship between parents and children is not as rigid as in other societies.
For example, it is common to hear that children refer to their parents as “you”: the exception is the Andean area of Venezuela (to the west of the country), a region in which the pronoun “you” is used even when speaking with a friend.
8 – Celebrating is essential
The word “party girl” is a good term to define Venezuelan families, since any event can become a cause for celebration. Venezuelans can throw a party to watch a baseball game or the World Cup.
Similarly, parties are organized when a new member of the family is born and after religious celebrations (such as baptism, first communion and confirmation). Likewise, in Venezuela, and in Latin America in general, the practice of 15-year parties is preserved (which in the past was intended to introduce young women to society).
9 – Christmas is one of the most commemorated holidays
Despite the fact that almost 90% of the Venezuelan population is Catholic, a large part of it is non-practicing, which means that they do not actively participate in the life of the Church.
However, the majority of Venezuelan families celebrate Christmas, a Catholic tradition, and even attend “Christmas Mass” or “Rooster Mass”, Catholic services that begin on December 16.
In December, Venezuelans get together to prepare Hallas, a typical Christmas dish, thus showing the cooperation between family members.
10 – Beyond kinship
As we have seen, legally, Venezuelan families are linked by kinship ties.
However, Venezuelans often consider other external individuals as part of their family. For example: the “compadres” and the “comadres”, respectively godparents and godmothers of a person’s child, are considered relatives despite not sharing ties of affinity or consanguinity.
Similarly, close friends can be seen as siblings, while friends of parents can be seen as uncles. In this regard, Venezuelan families are very inclusive.
- People of Venezuela. Retrieved on March 22, 2017, from republica-de-venezuela.com.
- Familia. Retrieved on March 22, 2017, from encyclopedias.families.com.
- Venezuela – Values and Attitudes (2014). Retrieved on March 22, 2017, from culturesmartconsulting.com.
- Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (in English translation from the original legal text). Retrieved on March 22, 2017, from venezuelaemb.org.kr.
- Morelock, Jessica. Venezuela: Travel Tips. Retrieved on March 22, 2017, from traveltips.usatoday.com.
- Venezuela- Family, Society, and Culture. Retrieved on March 22, 2017, from family.jrank.org.
- Familia. Retrieved on March 22, 2017, from acad.depauw.edu.