Men in Nicaragua are encouraged to be independent and to assert their authority in the family. They have traditionally been the ones to earn money to support the family. The customary role of women has been to raise the children in the home. Today, however, many women must work outside the home to ensure that the family has enough money. This often means that women have a double workload, one at home and one outside the home. Nicaraguan men seldom take on domestic tasks.

 Attempts by the government in the 1990s to restrict women to their roles at home as wives and mothers have met with strong resistance. When the Nicaraguan government tried to pass policies that would restrict women's rights in 1997, thousands of women marched on the National Assembly in protest. Although women are still very family-oriented, they also want to participate in society outside of the home. The struggle for women's rights is carried on by women's centres throughout the country.

 Many Nicaraguans live in small houses with their relatives. Houses in cities are organized in barrios, or neighbourhoods. Often many families share a public telephone. Sometimes there are shortages of water and electricity. The poor usually build their own makeshift housing. For those who live in the mountains, this might mean cutting down some trees to build shelter. People on the outskirts of large cities improvise with a variety of materials. Most people travel by bus. For short distances, people walk or ride bicycles. In the Caribbean lowlands, people may travel by boat.

  Did you know?
Although Nicaragua is a predominantly Roman Catholic country, many couples do not go through a church or civil wedding ceremony. Couples in these common-law unions have the same status as those who have civil marriages.
Many children in Nicaragua grow up in single-parent families. Some of the mothers are war widows, whose husbands died as soldiers. Living with an extended family has helped many Nicaraguans through difficult times. A grandmother might prepare meals while the grandfather tends the vegetable garden. The mother may go to the market to buy groceries, and both parents may work for wages outside the home. While the parents are away from home, a grandparent or an aunt or uncle who stays at home cares for the children when they are not in school. 
Godparents are very important in Nicaragua. They are close to both the child and the child's parents. Parents and godparents call each other compadre (co-father) and comadre (co-mother). People often turn to their godparents for help in finding a job or making ends meet. Nicaraguans feel a sense of responsibility for family members who need help. If they are in a position to give a job to someone, they will frequently hire a relative.