Cross Sex Relationships

The polygynous family is often a contentious zone of competing interests that contribute to the fostering of full sibling solidarity. Thus the typical sibling rivalry found in monogamous families is often muted in the polygynous family owing to the presence of intrafamilial strife.

This hierarchy of feeling and affection is ubiquitous in the American polygynous family. There is a gradation of emotional affiliation and intensity in affection and loyalty between full and half-siblings. However, this does not mean that half-siblings never form close bonds with other half-siblings. Nonetheless, there is an overwhelming preference for full siblings to form more intimate patterns of solidarity. Generally, it is the later born siblings (i.e., a mother's last two offsprings) who are more likely to establish a close friendship with the comother's children. Thus, half-siblings attend family functions out of friendship bonds previously established, whereas full siblings attend for a variety of reasons ranging from obligation to deep affection.

Outside the family, teenage girls and boys often seek out an adult male who lives in the community but is not directly related to them to serve as a mentor in advising them about life and its goals. This relationship is usually formed in the mid-teenage years with the mentor being significantly older (20 years or more). The mentor serves as a moral guide and buffer between the individual and his birth family. The emotional bonds formed during this time will extend through the individual's lifetimes.

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