The importance of the family in Hispanic society

Traditional Hispanic culture places a high value on family as the most important social unit within society. The nuclear family consisting of parents and children is extended to include the extended family. The term familia is used to describe all of those outside of the nuclear unit. Family values extend outwards to include a code of ethics and social expectations of each member of the family, or familia that includes moral conduct, respect for authority and adherence to religious values and beliefs.

Family hierarchy

In most cases, the father is the head of the household and the mother is expected to care for the home and the children. There is a high expectation that when members of the familia experience problems, that the family members which have the available resources to help, will offer the necessary aid. This includes financial support, care giving if required and offering guidance for younger members. If members of the family are down on their luck and experience financial hardship, it is common for other familia members to bring supplies of food and necessities to help out in a crisis.

Social interactions

It is common for family members on vacation or relocating to find work, to move in temporarily with other familia until they get on their feet. Celebrations of holidays and special events such as birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, first communions, weddings and baptisms are all events in which members of the familia are expected to attend.

Showing the proper respect for elders, those in authority, and maintaining good manners are expectations that are enforced within families. Most traditional Hispanic families also believe that the Spanish language should be preserved and passed down to children and grandchildren.

Hispanic families instill in their children the importance of honor, good manners, and respect for authority and the elderly. Preserving the Spanish language within the family is a common practice in most Hispanic homes.


The moral code of ethics in showing respect also reaches into maintaining a good appearance as this reflects dignity and pride. Formal dress is expected in many social events as this is a sign of respect and dignity which is an important reflection of the family’s values.

The importance of food and meal times

Family meals of authentic cuisine are an important part of Hispanic family culture. This is a time when members gather to spend time enjoying one another’s company and the preparations of the cook. Again, manners are important at the dinner table and children are expected to reflect their proper upbringing by exhibiting their manners at the dinner table, particularly when guests are visiting.


Family and familia are the most important social units found within Hispanic culture. Nuclear units traditionally included extended family with moral and social expectations that each will strive to help the other in times of need. This close knit collaboration is a strong tie that binds families together in a common belief and values system, within a rich and cohesive culture that places high value upon the family unit.