Family is No Longer Man, Wife and Kids

Unwed mothers credit: LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO / NPR

Women all over Latin America are redefining what “family” means. For the majority of them, it means being an unwed mother. In fact, in Colombia, 84 percent of kids are born out of wedlock, and the numbers are similar in Mexico, Argentina and Chile.

“Things have really changed,” says María Mercedes Vittar, a human resources manager and single mother of two, to NPR. “Today, we women are a lot freer. We decide what we like and don’t like. We work. We are independent. And that gives us a lot of strength. We can do it alone if we have to.”

Her daughters, Azul, 3, and Lupita, 7 months, are from different fathers. Vittar is not romantically involved with either of them, but they’re both involved in their daughters’ lives. They even spend special occasions together, for example at Azul’s birthday, her dad attended with his ex-wife and their children, Azul’s half siblings.

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Vittar says that her family is a lot more than just her immediate relatives, it also includes her friends, fellow single mothers, Paola Fiorita, mother of  3-year-old Lucio, and Ana Zappella, mother of 2-year-old Ambar. The good thing is that this dynamic is so prevalent that it’s now accepted.

“Things have changed so radically that now there is a huge diversity that is deemed acceptable, and it is valued. You don’t have to get married like before to have a place in society,” says Maria Esther de Palma, president of the Argentine Society for Family Therapy to NPR.

Hmmm, maybe that’s why some will pay to attend a fake wedding in South America.

Read more about the new family dynamic in Latin America from NPR here.

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