|Colombian family life varies according to region,
social class, race, education and income.
Many Colombians still live as extended families, with parents, children, grandparents and other relatives living together. It is quite common for adult children to continue living with their parents.
|As in many South American countries, Colombian
men are generally considered the head of the household. Women are responsible
for preparing food, maintaining the house and caring for children. This
family arrangement is changing as more Colombian women (especially middle-class
women) join the paid work force.
People establish relationships beyond their families through the system of compadrazgo. At a child's baptism, his or her parents select compadres (godparents) who will act almost as a second set of parents to the child. Compadrazgo translates as "copaternity." Compadres offer advice and even financial support as the child grows up.
|Like many Catholic countries, married couples
may go through two separate wedding ceremonies, a civil ceremony required
by law, and a religious ceremony in a church. Well-to-do families arrange
elaborate wedding ceremonies, but many poor people live common-law to avoid
the expense of a wedding and because it is difficult to obtain a divorce
within a Catholic marriage.
The indigenous peoples who live in the tropical forests of Colombia build traditional huts with palm thatch supported by wooden poles. Many families may share these huts. In contrast, in cities such as Bogotá, some families live in high-rise apartment towers or large detached houses in the suburbs. The majority of Colombians, however, live in less substantial housing. Many working class Colombians in the coastal regions live in two- or three-room wooden houses. The roofs of these homes are made of corrugated iron. They may have very little furniture or decoration. The worst housing conditions are found in the shantytowns of Colombia's cities.