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Mexico Family and Traditions

Home >> Mexico Cultural Directory >> Mexico Family and Traditions

Mexican culture is known for the unified nature of the family. The country's divorce rate is among the lowest in the world (0.33 divorces per 1000 population, compared to 4.95 in the United States). Children regularly live with their parents until they marry, even if they remain single until their thirties or later. It is also quite common for family units to remain connected, often with grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and children all living in the same area or even in the same house. Loyalty within the family is absolute brothers will fight for the honor of their sisters, and family members are often tapped for employment opportunities.
The roles of the parents in Mexican culture are generally well-defined, with the father acting as the family's ruler and the mother as the family's heart. Machismo (Spanish for "male chauvinism") is quite common in Mexican families, with the father exercising authority in a manner not unlike a dictatorship. Some have called adultery a social norm for men, and abuse, both physical and emotional, is common. Wives are generally expected to endure this treatment from their husbands, and many consider it acceptable behavior. A mother is often exclusively responsible for maintaining the household and caring for the children, who as a result often revere her, while fearing their authoritarian father.


In the past few decades, these stereotypes have begun to somewhat break down. As influences from the United States continue to shape Mexican culture, machismo is slowly becoming more recognized and despised, especially in the northern part of the country, where the American influence is more pronounced. In southern and more rural communities, however, these basic behaviors continue to exist.

Unlike the United States where citizens take pride in their economic independence, one nation that still values “community” in its cities and towns, its plazas and schools, and its work organizations is Mexico. In Mexican culture the expectation of working and socializing together is a key component of society, and has a basis in the strong ties formed within the family.
However, lack of faith in the government and other organizations is a result of widespread political corruption. Even at the lowest levels, police officers readily accept mordidas ("bribes") from those wishing to avoid the nuisance of a traffic ticket or a night in prison. In recent years, the government has begun addressing this corruption by reducing the number of state-owned businesses and calling on Mexicans to refuse to give bribes. This, however, has proven difficult, and the progress has been slow.

Mexico's relationships with the rest of the world are also quite complex. The arrival and conquest of the Spaniards left the country searching for an identity as a result of extensive inbreeding with the Spanish (the vast majority of Mexicans are mestizo, that is, mixed blood), they lost their native heritage, but similarly are not like their European conquerors.
Those from the United States are also often treated well. However, many Mexicans have not forgiven the United States for taking half their land as a result of the Mexican-American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Additionally, feelings of being politically neglected and the illegal immigration issue often lead to hard feelings.
Mexico has a tradition of military non-intervention in foreign affairs, since it has President Benito Juarez philosophy of Non-Intervention and being a Peaceful Nation with the slogan: "El Respeto al Derecho Ajeno es la Paz" which translates into, "Respecting the rights of others guarantees Peace" remains central and in the heart of Mexican National Policy and in the Mexican Constitution. The Mexican government generally avoids supporting interference and war, yet during World War II, a Mexican battalion fought for the Allies. President Fox could not support the United States invasion of Iraq for constitutional reasons.
The Mexican army, navy and airforce are not necessarily for warfare purposes, but instead are considered by economically challenged persons as good career and educational choices, a similar phenomena occurring in the United States.