Parenting in Venezuela

Since the 1970s, a group of Venezuelan researchers has been given the task, very competently, of presenting a study proposal of the Venezuelan family. The subject has been of particular interest among researchers, since almost all agree that the Venezuelan family, especially in popular sectors, is far from having the structure that characterizes the family in the rest of Western societies.

The ‘nuclear’ or traditional family, made up of the mother, father and children, is the structure that prevails in much of Western societies. While the ‘extended’ family is a form of social organization where several siblings share the same home with their children and wives, as well as with their parents, and depending on the context, the extended family can be made up of several generations, the family nuclear is that made up of men, women, and their children. This is not to say that in modern Western societies only parents, children, siblings, and spouses are related. Indeed, modern Western society knows well the relationships between cousins, in-laws, uncles, etc., but the fundamental type of social organization is the nuclear family: it is around it that the individual spends a good part of his life.

The lack of strength of the monogamous family, encourages the man to move around several women and by extension, around several families, without finishing settling in any. Thus, the father ignores his children, and the woman assumes almost total responsibility for raising the children. The father is thus virtually absent from the family nucleus, and the mother becomes the axis of family life. From this it follows that the Venezuelan family is «matricentrada», that is, the model of family organization where, with the virtual absence of the father, the mother monopolizes the emotional world of the individual.

The mother constitutes the axis of the emotional worlds of Venezuelans. For complex historical reasons to which we will return later, Moreno suggests that centuries of family tradition have led to the couple as an institution, never getting enough strength and stability among Venezuelans. Thus, the axis of the family structure is, and very surely, will continue to be the mother, since the virtual absence of the father does not allow her to be otherwise. The bond that the Venezuelan man maintains throughout his life is with his mother. The Venezuelan man will always be a son, much more than a husband or father.

This strong ‘mother-son’ nexus, maintains Moreno, encourages Venezuelan men to never fully indulge in relationships with other women; therefore, his conjugal relations are always unstable. The mother, on her part, nurtures in her son this virtual absence in family life, because in this way she will ensure that the son maintains an intimate connection with her throughout his life. The world of the Venezuelan is the world of the mother. The Venezuelan feels a special bond not only with the mother, but with all the other elements that approach her: her uterine siblings, her matrilateral relatives, the mother’s house, etc. The woman, on her part, will emancipate herself from the mother at an early age, since she herself aspires to be a mother, thus reproducing the prevailing family structure.

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on

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