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Stereotypes And Myths About The Mexican Family

The Mexican family has been subject to popular stereotypes, including an extreme machismo and a submissive and powerless woman. This vision is real in some families but is not the norm. In many cases, the moral and psychological strength of women withstands the initial pledge for power of their mates, and women end up with control and authority in all family matters. In a growing number of families, the men do the housework, and the women earn part of the family income (Leñero 1982).

Other stereotypes center on the role of religion in the family, giving it a sacred and ideal tone. This is reflected in proverbs such as, "what God has united cannot be separated by man," or "you must have as many children as God sends you." These statements have affected the behavior of Mexicans for ages, but are more strongly held in the rural areas, towns, and small cities. However, in spite of the official religious character of the Mexican family, there is a large disparity between religious fervor and the practice of religious values in everyday life. Many do not practice the religion they profess (Bermúdez 1955; Lafarga 1975).

Along with stereotypes there are myths about the Mexican family. These tend to be deeply rooted in the collective memory and are expressed in the form of feelings of cognitive structures that guide the interpretation of events or traditions that confirm group identity. Thus, myths are the vehicles for the creation of beliefs and behavioral patterns of family life. Their origin is in the culture and they influence the values, feelings, and perception of how one should conduct oneself in everyday family activities. Among the most popular and widespread myth systems are:

  • Families in the past were more stable and harmonious.
  • The only place to satisfy the vital needs of love and protection is the family.
  • Family agreement and consensus is natural.
  • Virginity should be kept until marriage.
  • He who is married wants a house.
  • Until death do us part.
  • Fidelity exists in marriage.
  • Men always say the last word. (Salles and Tuirán 1997)

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaMarriage: Cultural AspectsMexico - History Of The Mexican Family, The Contemporary Family, Stereotypes And Myths About The Mexican Family