Latinas Battling Cancer

Photo from http://alas-wings.org.

At  Milpitas High School, the American Cancer Society Club is promoting cancer awareness to the student body. “We offered additional information such as ‘Words to Know’, where we defined words and phrases like ‘Quality of Life’ and ‘Malignant’. We also offer free booklets and pamphlets to people who were interested in learning more. People should know the facts to reduce their risk and fear of developing cancer,” said Ariel B., Junior and Vice President of Milpitas High School’s American Cancer Society.

The cancer awareness project was created when the “American Cancer Society submitted an informative project to Milpitas High’s Science Fair. The tri-fold poster was filled with information on the three most common cancers among teens: blood cancer, brain cancer, and bone cancer,” explained Ariel.

Latinas and Cancer

One in three Hispanic women will be diagnosed with some type of cancer while they live. 1 out of 6 of these Hispanic women will die because of cancer (American Cancer Society).

“Cancer grows when a cell’s DNA is damaged. How or why the cell becomes damaged is still unknown,”  explained Ariel.

Hispanics are often diagnosed in the late stages of cancer. At these stages, the disease is more likely to have spread to organs which surround the initial point where the cancer developed. Hispanic women are also more likely to be diagnosed with larger tumors because of the late diagnosis. According the the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the most common cancer among Hispanic women.

Reasons for a late diagnosis

Two thirds of Hispanic women will discover they have breast cancer during a self-exam. Less than a third will find out they have breast cancer through the usual detection method, a mammogram, according to Science Weekly.

Hispanics are more likely to be unable to afford health insurance. As a result, Hispanics have limited access to healthcare, likely influencing the low screening numbers among Hispanics. Hispanics also have less help from professionals and less guidance from doctors to help them take actions to prevent cancer. According the U.S Census Bureau, in 2007, 33 % of Hispanics were uninsured.

Hispanics often lack an understanding of cancer. Having a limited understanding of English doesn’t help.

“My parents don’t go to the doctor as often because they have trouble speaking to their doctor. They don’t feel helped. And they don’t want to be billed for that,” explains Orizema Cruz, Junior at Milpitas High School and daughter of Mexican immigrants.

She, like many Hispanics, has parents who are limited to services and information due to language barriers.

Risks

The National Breast Cancer Foundation found that genetics, the environment, or most likely a combination of the both, are linked to the origins of cancer. Promoting cancer education to the Hispanic community could encourage earlier detection and healthier lifestyles among Hispanics.

Myths discouraging the Hispanic community to learn about cancer can be stopped through educating the public. Such actions can end the belief that cancer is caused by sleeping with a bra on or using an antiperspirant, or  even the belief that one’s risk of breast cancer increases as the size of your breasts increase. Additionally, this will help end the misinformation passed down from adults to the youth.

Two main established risks factors increasing the risk of developing cancer is obesity and family history.  The National Cancer Institute found that an educational program can promote a healthy lifestyle to Hispanics, who have one of the highest number of obesity. Even if cancer has not affected your family, according to the National Cancer Institute, 70 % of women without a family history of cancer will still develop breast cancer. One’s risk factor can also be reduced by losing some weight if obese, exercising regularly and avoiding smoking or drinking excessively.

Awareness

Citlali Cabrera, a 10 year old from Milpitas, CA , is aware of her family history of cancer. She explains, “My aunts have had breast cancer and ovarian cancer. I know I need to start taking care of myself so I don’t get ill, too. I drink water, eat healthy food, take care of myself, and I don’t eat that much junk food.”

“I want to help people with cancer. Last month, I asked family and friends if  they wanted to donate to the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Shop.  I feel happy helping out,” explained Citlali, who helps out the American Cancer Society on the weekends.

Like Citlali, take the steps to reducing your risk of cancer. It’s simple: know the facts and the risks. The more you know about cancer, the less you fear cancer. Your efforts towards awareness can save lives.

 

Advice: Boyfriend Edition

Dear Latinitas,

Why do guys say if we date more than one guy we’re easy.  But if they do it, they’re a player?


Dear Friend,

There are many views on this topic.  Both girls and guys have their own opinion.  Some say that guys like to have the satisfaction of being the only guy in a girl’s life and that they don’t want to share their girl with anyone else.  Some girls think that there seems to be some sort of competition to see who can get the most girls.  The same thing can be said by girls.  They don’t want to have to share their guy with anyone else.  I believe that it all has to do with the way we were brought up.  It’s a complicated issue and perhaps we will never find the proper answer.  Everyone has different views on it even though it isn’t correct to call someone easy or a player.

Dear Latinitas,

What do I say or do if my boyfriend isn’t matching his clothes, looking all ugly, and we’re going out on a date?

Dear Friend,

I believe that if he thinks what he is wearing looks good, then you shouldn’t have a say in it.  Maybe he’s starting a new trend!  If it bothers you though, you can always ask him if it’s okay to pick out a nice shirt for him every once in a while.  You can say, “you should wear this instead, I love how it looks on you!”  With this you will not sound like you’re trying to change his style and he will be happy that you think he looks well while wearing what you have suggested.  Don’t sweat the clothes, it doesn’t matter what he wears as long as you have a good time on your date!

Dear Latinitas,

How do you ask your boyfriend if he’s cheating on you?  How do you know they are saying the truth?  What do you do if they say yes?

Dear Friend,

First of all, you should have a very good reason to think he’s cheating on you.  If there aren’t any signs then I don’t think you should ask.  If you must ask though, just be straight out, simply ask, “Are you cheating on me?”  Be sure that you have a reason for asking.  When he answers, there is no certainty that he is telling the truth, you have to trust your instincts and most of all, you have to trust him.  If he says yes, I would advice you to end the relationship.  It isn’t worth being with someone who is not being honest.  I hope this helps, buena suerte, chica!

The More You Know, the Less You Stress

To all you Latinitas out there whose mind is running a million miles per second, stop and breathe. Stress is a common factor that every person deals with. It comes at you with a whirlwind of emotions known as anxiety, paranoia, frustration, and agitation (to name a few). As a teen, or young adult, the first phases of stress are often coupled with new responsibilities; and you hardly know how to deal with it.  According to Teenhelp.com, teens usually deal with stress related to school work, friends, family, romantic relationships, or even peer pressure in the social realm.  Here are a few tips that can help you deal.

 

School Stress  

“All in all you’re just another brick in the Wall” - Pink Floyd

As odd as it might sound, you’re not the only one going through school stress. Look around you, everyone else is trying to pass or make an A. They’re also applying to colleges and looking for scholarship money. What you can do is slow down, set goals, and organize and prepare yourself for the unknown. Tackle your school tasks day by day while using planners– one for school-work and activities and another for your future plans (like college). Unless you absolutely have to, only focus on what needs to be done at the present moment.

Marissa Martinez’s solution for school stress is to take study breaks. “Study at intervals so that all the information and stuff you are studying does not consume you, as it can help you lose motivation,” says Marissa. An important tip: while applying for college know that most universities look for Latinas to fill their classrooms. We are wanted all over the nation, use your multitasking, smarts, and perseverance to your advantage while applying for college, but don’t let it get the best of you.

Wendy Gonzalez shares how her college preparation was a little overwhelming. “It was mainly due to always having this force that drove me. I always dreamt of going to college and growing up and then it felt like I had finally arrived at that point and it was scary. It was scary not to know where my life would be headed. Studying and achieving good grades numbed my emotions and my fears,” says Wendy.

Although growing up can be terrifying, don’t be ashamed of your accomplishments, and don’t be scared of putting yourself out there. Going to college or a higher grade level means entering a new phase in your life, embrace it and see what you can do for yourself and others instead of fearing the unknown. You might not know it, but there are people out there who really love and believe in you; if you’re having stress or anxiety problems with your academics, go to someone you are comfortable talking to.


Relationship Stress

“I get by with a little help from my friends” – The Beatles

Sometimes your friends can be like family, they love and support you, they can be extremely judgmental  and they can also be persuasive. Your family can also fall under these categories, just remember that their input is usually meant for the best; take it with loving acknowledgement and do what you believe is right. Stick to your guns and don’t let anyone push you into doing something you don’t want to do. Remember that the person you’re with most is yourself, you should be able to like that person. Your friends and family should be your support group and relief when there’s no one else to go to. Make sure you surround yourself with people you can trust, because those bonds last a lifetime.

If you’re in an unhealthy relationship with a friend, family member, or romantic other, stop and think about how you’re being affected. Peer pressure to do drugs, drink alcohol, or do any kind of sexual activity can be detrimental.  Abusive behavior and inappropriate remarks are all signs of an unhealthy relationship. Although you might feel stuck or are blaming yourself in any of these situations, know that you do have a choice. Communication is key, but most of all communicate with yourself.

Jocelyn Perez comments how people try to keep their feelings to themselves, what she does to release stress is, “ run, paint, sing, and I do something that makes me laugh.”

Find your own niche where you can be comfortable. Keep a diary and write everything down, like your stresses or letters to the people who are harming you. If your problem is with a family member let them know, sit down and talk to them or write them a letter, they need to understand how their harsh words are making you feel. Get everything off your chest, then get yourself out of that position; there are better relationships to be made.

Personal Stress

“You are the Hero of your own Story”- Joseph Campbell

Your surroundings can be overwhelming and may leave you feeling self-conscious and anxious. The trick is to try and keep them out. So many girls are pressured into thinking girls/teens/women need to be thinner, or smarter, or nicer, or more hip, but in reality you just need to be you.  Count your strengths, even the small things. If you help your mom out with your family, that makes you a strong supportive woman. If you turn your homework in on time, that makes you a good student. If you can dance by yourself in front of the mirror that makes you beautiful. If you ever come by a stressful or hopeless feeling take a break from your world to do something that makes you happy.

Gonzalez states, “We have to learn how to be mindful. Acknowledge our feelings and advocate for what we need at specific moments.”

Body image can be a huge factor in causing stress problems. There is a high percentage of girls suffering from depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem because they feel that they’re not good enough.

Wendy Gonzalez shares her own experience stating, “stress led to my anemia,vitamin d deficiency,costochondritis fibromyalgia and patellofemoral pain all during my senior year of high school…luckily I am better.”

Stanley Popovich, author of Managing your Persistent Fears, Anxieties and Stresses, advises girls to keep a small notebook full of positive statements that they’ve seen before or wrote themselves. If you ever get low or depressed feelings it’s always good to read one of these affirmations (positive statements) as a mantra, and say it until you believe it.  At the end of the day it all comes down to you, reason with your mind and challenge your thoughts with logical questions (Popovich). If you feel like your stress is turning into something bigger and more disruptive, find help.

All of these topics have one common factor, you. There are many different ways to get rid of stress and handle what might become anxiety, it all depends on your mind power.

A Confidence Boost

Students might genuinely be interested in getting involved at a young age but the “experience” factor may seem disheartening. It is often times discouraging to have a lack of experience stand in the way of any career field, or profession, you might want to explore. From taking on an internship/volunteering to obtaining a job, trying new opportunities can be scary and overwhelming– especially if you feel like a “newbie.” In fact, many students run across this obstacle where the work environment is predominately inclusive of people that may be more “experienced.” Being in such a position at such a young age is difficult, because young people often respond to the “inexperienced” comment with frustration.

Try asking a few high school students about this, and you will very likely get a wide range of responses. A high school freshman, Kaitlin, started off by saying, “It’s a bit like high school, I guess. It’s not like I can change my year, so I can’t sit next to the big, bad high school seniors.”

Yullisa, a high school sophomore, in the search of a summer job has felt the lack of experience to be discouraging as well.

“It’s something I can’t change dramatically soon enough. It’s annoying to say the least,” said Yullisa.

As someone with little experience at the time, Yullisa could not help but be frustrated with the reasoning many business places seemed to have.

Another high school student, Elizabeth, agreed that few business owners would seem to give second thought to many of the applications she submitted for work positions. When she first started her summer job search, it seemed that she “would never get a job, ever.” Throughout this past school year though, Elizabeth eventually found a place to start and has been working.

Of course age cannot be changed, but does age, which is often connected to experience, have to be a deterring factor?

As much as age may dominate high school, it is difficult to believe that age could be that influential and important elsewhere. Speak to someone like Yullisa and you might see the ways to pursue a career interest, a bit differently.

She is a high school sophomore and though she might be an academic year above Kaitlin, Yullisa has had to overcome a few fears in getting involved in her own school campus and beyond. This year joining the Mock Trial team at school, she managed to push herself past her fears. She’s interested in becoming a probation officer and views Mock Trial as something she might likely be able to connect with that particular career. She admitted that it got to be “…so much fun as [she] kept going to the meets and prep sessions, that not being scared was something [she] got used to.”

Such an attitude should be far more encouraged, for any teenager.  Feeling frustrated may be overwhelming, but there is a glimmer of hope. The only way someone cannot gain experience is by not doing anything. Everyone has to start from somewhere and worrying that your work might not mirror the level of older or more experienced people does not improve the situation.

To ensure that teens don’t pass up a great opportunity, here are a few tips to boost your confidence. 

#1: Remember that trying something new cannot hurt you.

As difficult as starting off in a new environment can be, never let the possible hardships deter you. It’s a given that nothing that is ever worth the sincere and committed effort, can be easy. Thinking about it in this way can often help you more than a negative and intimidated mindsets ever will. Give yourself an opportunity to love a new and challenging experience. It will be worth the efforts.

#2: See the opportunity in its fullest.

Making the best of it will ensure that you’re on the right path. Don’t forget that even if you don’t get any coveted positions, make any great projects, or do anything extraordinary on the first try, you can improve. Keep in mind that you can do better, so just because you haven’t yet, you have more than enough time to learn and accomplish more with any new experience.

#3: Have a friend or sibling join you.

Sometimes it’s easier to go along and start off with someone you trust by your side. If you don’t feel like you can do it on your own, at least at the beginning, invite someone to join you. You don’t have to start something new by yourself. It’s very likely that if you ask, they would say yes.

 #4: Just do it!

As much as I and any other person can give advice, you should just go for it. Don’t think that the fear of making mistakes should stop you. You shouldn’t let anything stop you. Go for it because if you otherwise don’t there is no way you will ever achieve what will be worth all the collective efforts in the world.

Post-Grad: Real World Problems

As the weather gets warmer and the days become longer, the arrival of summertime has many teens embarking on summer vacations. For high school graduates across the nation the arrival of the warm weather signifies the celebration of milestone events. You might be part of the select group of students who find themselves at a crossroads either in your Junior or Senior year. The reality for these students is that with the end of their High School career comes the million-dollar question of “What will I do after graduation?”

For many Latinas who are the first in their family to graduate High School the topics of college, earning a degree, and life post-grad in general are all of great mystery and uncertainty. Already facing other financial and cultural obstacles, this absence of knowledge can greatly and negatively impact the aspirations of the Latina collective of accomplishing their professional and academic dreams.

As “women of color” it is important to keep in mind the following “Golden Rules” to strengthen your post-grad journey:

I. Be Informed

As Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, explained, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” As a graduating student it is important to have information on the educational options and opportunities that are available. If paying for college makes you anxious, don’t fret! Getting the funding via scholarships, student grants and other government aid that is accessible will help fund and therefore fulfill your academic dreams. Do not let money be a determining factor in deciding what academic or professional route to take. Do your research and stay informed!

II. Have Clear Goals

So, how can you prepare to enter the real world as a recent Post-Graduate? For one, having clear goals of your academic and professional interests and expectations decreases the anxiety. Knowing what career path you wish to follow can direct you towards volunteer and internship opportunities that will provide you with the necessary experience and can help you establish a network. Ultimately, spending a couple weeks during the summer interning at a firm or at a non-profit can help in creating a support system that can guide you while on the job search or when in need of academic letters of recommendation when filling out college applications or scholarships.

III. Seek a Mentor or a Role Model

Dina M. Horwedel explains, in her article Latina Women and Higher Education – Making it Happen, that by identifying the power in knowledge, developing self-confidence and a support system as well as seeking out role models and mentors can Latina women be better equipped to achieve success in the workforce or in the classroom. It is therefore important to find that someone that you look up to, whose professional life interests you or that individual whose support has greatly inspired you.  You will find great comfort in their personal experience and great motivation in their knowledge.

IV. Confidence is Key

Sometimes “planning ahead” for the real world means taking a different path. While in college you have the opportunity to take a “gap year.” Often times this translates into neither entering the workforce nor entering the classroom but a combination of them both: taking a gap year and living abroad. The idea of the gap year is an option that allows you to gain some international experience via volunteering. This not only helps in building an international network and having life-changing experiences but it also allows you to acquire real-world life and work skills that will help determine and strengthen your goals and future professional interests.  Do not fear taking an alternate route by crossing international borders, the key to success when taking the road less traveled is confidence!

With graduation there emerges the pressure of not knowing what is to come or what is expected of you once you have concluded your High School career. Therefore it is important to explore the different possibilities there are, whether it is heading off to college in the fall, taking a year off and volunteering abroad or even entering the workforce. The key to success when planning ahead for the real world is knowledge, confidence, and determination. Whatever route you decide to take it is vital to consider that as an educated Latina if the road you decide to take is the one less traveled, despite the uncertainties, it is what will make a difference.

Talking to Parents 101: Boys

There’s no escaping them: boys. They’re everywhere and we can’t help but to be drawn to them. This isn’t just a girl thing; guys are naturally attracted to us as well and, if we’re lucky, the one we are crushing over is also crushing over us. But what do you do when he makes a move and now you’re a couple? Do you tell your parents? Do you keep it to yourself? Are you old enough to be in a relationship? These are the most important questions when it comes to boys.

Every parent is different when it comes to the “boyfriend/girlfriend” subject. Some would rather have you wait until you graduate college or high school, some think sixteen is the appropriate age and some (but rarely any) think it’s okay to start dating in middle school. But how does this work out? Truth is we have no control over who we are attracted to, it happens.  So, if you happen to think you’re ready, consider these four rules.

Never try to overpower your parents 

First, never say: “I have a boyfriend and I want you to meet him” or anything in this context. Never say: “I am or I have.” You shouldn’t exert any authority. No parent wants to be told what to do or to accept something, and this will immediately shut them off, leaving no room for compromise. Instead, ease them into the idea. For example, during dinner, say something like: “so there’s a guy at school, and he’s telling people he thinks I’m cute.” This is a good way to bring the topic up, because you’re sharing your personal life with them and they’ll love that. This will also form trust between you and them, making the boyfriend situation easier to consider.

Observe their reaction

Observe their reaction, did they cringe? Did they get angry? Did they find it funny? But most importantly were they open about the topic? If they seemed upset or blew off your comment, this is a sign to back away from the subject (for now). I know this is something you don’t want to hear, but there’s no way around it. There’s no point in pursuing the conversation any further and angering them. Instead, wait a couple days and bring up the conversation again, but this time say something like “so remember that boy I was telling you guys about, well he asked me to eat lunch with him during our lunch break. But I don’t know what to say. What do you guys think?” This is your attempt at forming a trust/permissive relationship with them. They’ll respect you for asking them  but don’t demand an answer right away, let them think about it. Don’t push them, because they’ll just push the topic away even more (and we don’t want that).

Confront your parents with an open mind

Finally, confront them. But when doing so, never say “you don’t, you need, you, etc.” Using the word “you” is a form of attack and this can cause the other person to shut down. You don’t want that. Instead, let them know how you feel. You can do this by saying, “I would like to go out to lunch with him and I want to be able to talk about situations like these with you guys. I know I’m still young, and this is hard for you, but I want you to know that I’m not rushing into a relationship; I just want to try this out.” Let them speak, but most importantly listen. If you want them to hear you out, you need to let them speak also. Hear them out! And if they’re response is not what you wanted to hear, don’t jump up and start justifying yourself or argue. You want them to see you as an adult; arguing, crying, screaming, etc. is going to do the complete opposite. Keep in mind that your parents mean well. I know that is a very cliché thing to say, but it’s true. So, if they don’t think it’s time to date, then respect their decision and this will show them maturity. This is key to gaining their approval!

Be patient

Getting your parents to accept the idea of dating is a process and if at first it doesn’t work, let the subject cool down, and try again! A mature attitude is the pathway to approval. And ladies, please keep in mind that middle school isn’t the time for boyfriends! Those years are made for friends and making memories! Getting ready for high school, joining a sport, dances, or practicing for high school try outs with your BFF’s. Boys will always be there. There’s no need to rush, believe me.

Advice: Abortion

My best friend is pregnant and she wants to practice an abortion. She’s 16 and I don’t know how to help her because I think a baby is gift from God. She’s my friend but it’s against my belief, what do I do?

“Of course, if she’s your best friend you usually support her, but if you’re a real friend then you help her and make her change her decision. I am totally against it because you are killing a human. You created it, you made the mistake, and you need to learn from it. Also, there are other options like adoption. That’s great because at least the baby gets to live. God brought him/her for a reason. If no one is there for her support, support her in many ways that you can. Of course, everyone will be judging, but you have to look at the positive side and be happy. Help her change her mind because it’s not worth killing your own child.” – Jocelyn, 17

“It is important that you are supportive of your friend during this difficult time. However, you must also remember that she is panicking and has very tough choices to make. Abortion certainly seems like an easy way out of the problem, but you must educate your friend on this decision. The library has many great resources on the physical and psychological dangers of abortion. I suggest finding some resources to show her the pros and cons of abortion. There are also clinics that one may go to for more information on pregnancy. Remind your friend that there are other options to abortion. A great alternative is adoption. Many couples would love to have a baby but cannot conceive. If your friend gives up her baby to adoption, she will be helping both the couple and the baby. I also suggest speaking to a trusted adult in your community. It is very possible that your friend is seeking an abortion because she feels very alone and does not want to jeopardize her future. However, talking to a trusted adult will help the both of you cope with this situation. Finally, you should suggest to your friends that she speak to her parents about it. It may seem very scary and it is possible that they may be very angry with her at first, but they are her parents and will love her no matter what happens.”
– Sara Maldonado, 22

 

“Although you feel strongly about abortions being incorrect, you must keep in mind that they are your personal beliefs. Your friend might have other beliefs and also it will also ultimately be her decision to make since it is her body. Remember, that a true friend will respect the opposing beliefs of other friends and offer their love an d support in hard times such as these. Also, be cautious of your word, such as “killing you own child.” These words are harmful and will not help you friends. Instead offer her other choices, but respect whatever decision she makes in the end.”  – Liz, 22

 

 

Traditional Dating

There are common stereotypes that Mexican families have strong conservative traditions when it comes to dating. One common stereotype is dating within one’s culture.

It may have been like this a long time ago specifically for our grandparents and great-grandparents during a time where things were more traditional, and the world wasn’t so modern.  As a 22 year-old Latina I can say first hand that things have changed tremendously, at least for my family. Times have changed and my parents have coped with things they were not used to when they were my age. I constantly hear from my parents how strict it was when they were growing up.

When love and culture clash:
It all comes down to your family, and how easy they are on coping with traditional change. If a family is really close to their rural Mexican roots, they will have their own set of customs such as going out in a group, instead of alone with the date. For example, in Mexico, one common expectation is getting the father’s approval since he is the head of the household. For women, the guidelines are more strict because the father is letting their little girl  go off with another man.

Debora Hernandez, a senior at the University of California, Riverside stated, “As an individual you always want to please your parents and make them proud, but I have always been very independent and moved to the beat of my own drum.”

Victoria Servin, an editorial-translator intern for Latinitas and Linguistics and Translation student at the University of Texas at El Paso, explains how she followed her mother’s wishes, “Personally I didn’t want a boyfriend in high school so it didn’t really bother me too much. I never really felt the need to rebel against my parents and I didn’t do it out of spite, I guess I just agreed.”

In Mexico, your family is your biggest dating pressure.

Essentially, you are not only dating the man/woman, but you are dating the family; almost becoming part of the family in which they expect you to hold conservative values. Another common conception is that girls are not officially allowed to date until they turn 15, the age they become a woman and have the option to have a quinceañera.

When asked about dating in high school at a young age, Victoria Servin stated, “My mother didn’t want me to have a boyfriends because she didn’t want me to fall under the hispanic teen pregnancy statistic. She wanted me to go to school, or travel, she didn’t want me to date anyone.”

Today the Mexican-American culture is really not much different from other cultures in the U.S. Like all concerned parents, my parents did have some influence over who I dated. They wanted to meet them and learn more about them, rather than “I’m going out with so and so.” And questions most parents ask, “Where did you meet him?” “What does he study?” “How old is he?” etc.

On the other hand, some parents are less eager to want to meet every person their daughter dates.  Servin comments, ”Most mexican moms want to know who you go out with, my mom doesn’t want to meet anyone; I think it’s because no matter who I date, it’s not going to be good enough.”

Today, women are also seen as more independent and as  the breadwinners of the house. Melissa Garcia, a graduate from the University of California, Riverside states, “I think my parents main concern is that I date someone that can support me, but as a 2012 Latina, that is not needed anymore. I think I am capable of fending for myself.”

We all have different experiences especially since we all come from different backgrounds. What are yours?

Under Pressure

1. My friends only talk about sex. I don’t feel comfortable talking about those kinds of things and I feel peer-pressured into talking about it. How can I tell them to stop including me in those topics without losing their friendship?

Be honest and let your friends know that you feel uncomfortable with the topic of sex. If they are your real friends, they will understand. If they decide this is something worth losing a friend over, then it is their loss, not yours. It is also good to branch out from a small group of friends. This will allow you to gain new perspectives and meet new people with similar interests! You can join new after-school clubs or sports. Making friends through these activities will ensure that you will all have something in common that you can talk about.

2. I have my v-card, but my boyfriend is peer-pressuring me into losing my virginity. I don’t want to and he won’t stop trying, what do I do? I want to break up with him, but I don’t know how to without him talking behind my back.

Break up with him. Definitely. This may sound cliché but it’s true: if he is not willing to wait for you, then he is not worth your time. When you break up with him, be very clear about why you are no longer interested in being in a relationship with him. Tell him that you are not okay with the way he has been pressuring you into losing your v-card. You cannot be forced into doing something that you don’t want to and if you feel threatened by him, talk to your parents, counselor, or teacher.

You certainly run the risk of him talking about you behind your back; however that is something that you really cannot control. I think it is important for you to not focus on what he’ll say by letting it go and move on. He cannot force you to do anything and if you feel threatened, talk to a teacher or counselor. Surround yourself with a group of supportive friends and focus on other things such as school and extracurricular activities. A boy is not worth your time. In middle and high school, rumors change at an extremely rapid pace. In two weeks, there is a possibility that no one will be interested in anything your soon-to-be-ex is saying

Healthy Relationships Tips

Every relationship is different. Even though all relationships are unique and function on their own terms, like sharing your own super cool secret language with a sibling or friend, there are certain guidelines that can either strengthen or damage your relationship. Here are some pointers that should help you keep your relationships healthy and happy.

1.) Communicate: Often times we are hearing what our loved ones are telling us, but it goes in through one ear and out the other. We end up picking the things we want to hear. How convenient, right? Being a good listener is the first thing one should work on when wanting a healthier and happier relationship. Laura Werthmann, who is a Club Leader and Editorial Intern for Latinitas says, “I feel that communication is probably the number one most important thing to have in a relationship. When others know what is going on in your world, or visa versa they are able to uphold a sense of empathy or have a better understanding of your actions or who you are as a person. I feel that maintaining positive forms of communication builds trust in a relationship, forming a stronger bond that can potentially last forever.” Avoid the awkward small talk with your BFF or loved one, communication is key in maintaining a healthy relationship.

2.) Trust : Trust is extremely important when maintaining healthy relationships. Trusting someone means not questioning their actions and knowing that they have your best interest at heart. Whether it’s trusting your friends or your parents, know that trust is the foundation of someone always being there for you. ”To get along better with your parents, show them you trust them. Show them you appreciate them and try to see things from their perspective. It is not out of this world to fight with your parents now and then; sometimes it’s part of being a family,” states Janette Mendoza, Senior at Harmony Science Academy.

3.) Empathy/ Consideration :  Being empathetic towards the ones you love is a much appreciated quality.  When the ones you love are going through a hard time you should be considerate and supportive, because having empathy is a form of expressing that you care. According to Education.com, Dr. Robert Brooks claims empathy is  ”a common characteristic of individuals who are successful as business leaders, teachers, parents, spouses, or healthcare professionals.” Aside from these positive traits, “empathic people are skilled in placing themselves inside the shoes of another person and seeing the world through that person’s eyes,” adds Dr. Brooks. Being able to put yourself in their shoes has the potential of not only increasing communication between your loved ones, but also in strengthening a relationship.

4.) Showing you care :  Showing that you care for someone can be shown in different ways.  ”I’m always concerned with the health of my mom,” shares Heather Marronne, Senior at Mission Early College High School. “Everyday, without fail, whether I have a few seconds to talk, I always ask her if she’s eaten, if she slept okay, or how her day went or if she needed anything. She does the same for me. We stay caught up like that.” Consistently telling people that you care and love them can have a positive impact in your relationships. Being an affectionate person does not come easy to most people, but the fact that you are making an effort is what truly counts. Always remember that going overboard with affection, like telling someone you love them every 5 minutes, may smother them and can potentially be counterproductive. If you’re on the shy side, tyou can always write your loved ones letters or surprise them with their favorite chocolate or candy bar. Be creative!

5.)Loyalty: There is a reason why there is a saying that a man’s best friend is his dog. The reason this saying exists is because dogs are loyal to their owners. Loyalty, whether it’s from a furry friend or a loved one, is important in a healthy relationship. A loyal friend, family member or significant other is a very valuable person, because it is someone who will be there to pick you up when you’re down and will always have your best interests at heart. There is no better feeling than knowing the people you love and care about will be by your side no matter what may happen in your life.

 

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