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Home› Cultures› Portugal› Cultural Differences› Family Structures

Family Structures

Comparison of differences in family structures between Portuguese and U.S. majority cultures.

Portuguese Culture American Majority Culture
Family is the foundation of the Portuguese social structure. The nuclear family has strong ties to the extended family, which include cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, godparents (padrinhos) and close friends.
The family unit is very diverse but, generally, it tends to be small and nuclear.
It is quite common to find three generations living under the same roof. Married children tend to live in a house or apartment near the parents. Family members such as the grandparents, parents, married children and other relatives may live in different parts of the country.
Children are brought up as an integral part of the family unit and are expected to contribute to the overall welfare of the entire family. Children are not expected to contribute to the welfare of the whole family.
Children are indulged and welcomed. They participate in most adult activities. Children have separate activities from the adults.
Adult children are expected to live at home until marriage. Adult children are encouraged to leave the nuclear family and become independent before marriage.
Family, kinship and friendship play a major role in both social and business interactions. Individualism is encouraged. Self-reliance and independence is encouraged.
Interpersonal relationships are important. Merit is of greater importance than interpersonal relationships in business interactions.
Placing elderly relatives in nursing facilities is unusual. Grandparents usually live with their children and may participate in community activities for the elderly. It is common practice to place frail elderly relatives in nursing facilities.
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