The family structure of Caribbean families will be discussed within the context of three of the primary ethnic groups in the region (African, Indian, and Chinese).
Although there are some similarities in family structures, each group has unique customs and traditions.
Yogendra Malik (1971) noted that although East Indians and Africans have been living in close proximity for more than a century, each group possesses distinct values, institutions, authority patterns, kinship groups, and goals. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of families in the Caribbean are from an African background, and came as slaves to the region.
Almost half of the population in both Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana is of African descent (Barrow 1996).
The African-Caribbean family has unique mating and childrearing patterns.
Some of these patterns include absent fathers, grandmother-dominated households, frequently terminated common-law unions, and child-shifting, where children are sent to live with relatives because the parents have migrated or have begun a union with another spouse.
The role of family members is different in Caribbean families.
The father's principal role is economic provider and protector of the family.
They are also involved in the discipline of the children, especially the males, and often have a distant relationship with their daughters.In general, they are not actively involved in day-to-day childcare, especially for young infants.This should not be construed as not caring for their children; they tend to feel that women are better with children at this stage.However, the late twentieth century saw some men becoming more involved in their children's lives, spending more time playing and talking with them (Roopnarine et al. The mother's principal role is to take care of the children and be the primary nurturer in the family. Children are required to be obedient, respectful, and submissive to their parents.Girls are expected to help with domestic chores around the house, whereas boys are expected to do activities outside the house, such as taking care of the yard and running errands (Evans and Davies 1996). They are, in some ways, a distinct group because of their multiethnic composition.Although the majority of the families have an African background, which sometimes causes people from the Caribbean to be identified as such, there are families from Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and European backgrounds who identify themselves as Caribbean.