All Ecuadorians place great importance on the family. Older members of the family are treated with respect and kindness. A household is made up of a husband and a wife and their unmarried children, and sometimes members of the extended family. Aged parents often live with their youngest son and his wife. Traditionally, the youngest son stays in the parents' home with the expectation that he will take care of his parents in their old age.
Ecuadorians also form ties to unrelated people through the system of compadrazgo (godparents). Compadres are chosen by the parents of a child at the child's baptism. Compadres have financial obligations towards the children and are also expected to provide support and advice throughout the child's life. For example, a young couple may ask their godparents for advice if the marriage faces problems.
Did you know?

Although Ecuador is a Catholic country, common-law marriages are accepted as legal marriages.

In Ecuador, women are generally responsible for care of the children and the household. Men take a less active role in child-rearing and housekeeping. In recent times, however, the roles of women and men are changing. For example, in urban families men may share household work if their wives are working outside the home.

Teenaged Ecuadorians generally socialize in groups. Girls must ask for permission from their parents to go out alone with a boy. At 15, girls may have a "coming out party." This includes a Catholic ceremony and a party with food, drinks and dancing. Dating usually begins after this phase in a young girl's life. Women usually marry by their early twenties. Most families want their children to finish school before they get married.

Like those in many other Catholic countries, Ecuadorians may have two marriage ceremonies: a civil ceremony that is required by law and a religious ceremony in a church. Many Catholic couples will not live together until after the church wedding.

Visits from family and friends are frequent in Ecuador. When families gather for a meal and conversation, visitors are always welcome. Even if unexpected guests arrive during a meal, they will be offered a full meal. As guests are leaving they may be offered a gift.

Did you know?

In Ecuador it is considered polite to say hello and goodbye to every person at a party or a social gathering. Those who do not are seen as not placing enough value on relationships.