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Life Stages: Coming of Age

Traditionally, Spanish boys “came of age” when they went off to fulfill their compulsory military service. Boys who reached the age of eligibility for military services at 18 were called quintos and would go away together after knocking on their neighbor’s doors for contributions of food and drink. Spanish girls come of age when they reach puberty.

Girls and boys start socializing with each other at around the age of 13 or 14. Many teenagers join a pandilla, or a club or a group of friends with an interest in a similar pastime like cycling or hiking. The group’s activities and social gatherings serve as convenient rendezvous locations for young people.

Adolescent girls are expected to learn how to cook, sew, take care of siblings, clean, and otherwise manage the household. Boys are not expected to contribute to household work or expenses, but are focused on finding ways to pave their future through finding a good job, which will help them to earn money. Children usually live with their parents until after they marry.