Ritual – Mexico

When a girl is still living in her parent’s house, any boy that wants to go out with her must come and ask her parents first. He has to sit down with them and ask permission before she is allowed to see him. This occurs for every new boyfriend she has, not just her first.


The subject told me that in Mexican culture, the daughter is very protected, and that when she becomes old enough to date, it is still gone about in a very special way. She said that the boy had to come to her house and ask her parents, in particular her father for permission first before he can go out with the girl. The subject said that a few boys had to come over to her house when she was younger and that she was very embarrassed because her father gave them hard times, and that he was a very strict man. She was afraid that all of the kids at school would make fun of her, but to her surprise her father let her go out with the boys. She said that this is widely practiced in Mexican households, and that that is probably why boys actually did come over, because she said she was afraid no one would want to come to her house just to go out on a date. Then I asked her if it was only for her first boyfriend, and she shook her head and told me that every new boy that wanted to ask her out had to come to her father and ask permission.

This tradition reminds me of the idea that the boy needs to ask the parents permission to take the girl’s hand in marriage, which I think that this custom is derived from. In the past, girls were married at a much earlier age, (the same age that they are now allowed to date), and therefore the boy had to come ask for the hand in marriage, but now since girls don’t get married at 15, they ask permission to date the daughter. This tradition also reflects the idea of respecting your elders, a popular belief in Mexican culture. The fact that the boy has to ask the father for permission shows the importance of the father in the daughter’s life, he is her protector, and thus acts as a guard to turn the unsuitable boys away. The subject said that for the most part her father let most of the boys date her, and that he was not too harsh. Its hard to imagine this custom in American culture, because kids have “boyfriends” at 10, and I think that a lot of the boys even at age 16 would shy away from having to talk to a girl’s dad. There has definitely been a loss of respect for the elders in American culture. This is why it is so interesting that this custom is still practiced. It is much like the quinceanara, the celebration of the daughter’s fifteenth birthday in which she becomes a woman and is allowed to dance with a boy after she dances with her father. It is obvious that the father and boy are two recurring symbols in the girl’s life, and the father always comes first. This reflects the respect issue and the idea that she will always have her father to support her.