In Nigeria, large families are common and communities place a high value on getting married and having children. In a nuclear family, the man is the head of the family with the wife as a partner and subordinate (second in charge).
So the order goes like this- yourself, your wife, the children, grand- parents, relatives, friends and acquaintances.
Traditionally the size of a man’s family is believed to signify his wealth.
Polygamy is still practiced in certain cultures, where a man takes more than one wife. This happens in both Muslim religions and also in Southern areas where traditional beliefs are still followed. This gives the men in this cultural background the opportunity to have larger families, most of which they cannot afford.
In other parts, men usually have only one wife. Marriage ceremonies are often viewed as the best ceremony of ones life and it is celebrated in a very large way.
In Nigeria, family means people who are related by blood, marriage or adoption. Family is very important in the Nigerian culture. There are two major family types; the nuclear family, which is made up of one man, his wife and unmarried children, and the extended family which is usually made up of a series of nuclear families.
A unique feature of the Nigerian family is the existence of loose matrilineage and use of various terms to describe households and unions. For example, some households are headed by women which may be as a result of divorce, outside wives (this term describe a woman who functions as a wife to a married man); these outside wives use the surname of their husbands.
The Nigerian legal system has improvised ways and means of accommodating such women and their children. There is no such status as illegitimate child or children.