Written by Claudia Mendoza
Different Latinas share their own experiences about dealing with traditional parents, as well as their their own advice on how they coped with culture and tradition affecting their lives.
1. Leaving for College and Moving Out
“My mom was hesitant and really sad when I moved away for college,” shares Victoria Navarro, 19, when discussing her experience leaving her hometown for college. “She tells me that it is hard and she would prefer me to be back home. She would love to have me at home if she could. With me leaving so soon, she was fearful of me being by myself and being on my own, but she never told me I couldn’t do it,” she adds. Victoria was able to make the transition smoother by telling her mom why she wanted to attend a prestigious school out of town and how it would offer her new opportunities. “My mom recognized it was a good opportunity. She is really supportive and she knows I worked hard for it.”
Ariana Ortega explained how difficult it is to even bring up the topic of “moving out” with her mom. Both her and her mother live alone, for the majority of the time, in a four-bedroom home. This not only makes it hard on her mother but it makes it hard on her to even think about leaving her mother alone; the guilt and the privileges of living at home hold her back. ”I always think about moving out, even though my mom gives me plenty of freedom. She always tells me that moving out comes with a lot of responsibilities, and that living on my own I won’t come home to home-cooked meals,” Ariana stressed as she stared off into the distance.
2. Social Life
Alexsis Centeno, 18, explained how difficult it is to even go out with her friends and boyfriend. Lexy (nickname), explained that her parents are divorced and living in two separate homes, with two sets of rules, highly opinionated parents, and a “Cruella” for a step-mother are the main reasons to her undeveloped social life. Lexy stressed, “I choose to ignore it.”
Lexy Centeno shared her story, “When I was 15 they started to let me date. I really wouldn’t let them know anything about what goes on with the person I was dating, they just knew who the person was.” Lexy explained that she is currently dating a soldier, Kenny, 19, and she stressed that her parents allow him to join the family and come inside the house, however they are not to be left alone at any moment. Her parents do not want her to have distractions that will prevent her from finishing school, and having a career.
High school senior Lexy Centeno feels relieved to know that if she were to move out her parents would help her, as long as she continued to go to school. In fact, she plans on moving out with her best friend as soon as she graduates from high school.
3. Double-Standards and Having the “Talk”
“I think there is a lot of shame in having the sex talk in the Latino community,” shares Victoria. “It is something that you don’t even talk about. For me, it was that my family would not accept it at all. As a girl, you are told that a lot of your respect has to do with your purity. I would say that it should not be a one-sided discussion. It is important to have a discussion with your parents. If you think it is an option, you should be open with them and you may be surprised that it might become a real discussion. It is important to show that you have thought about it and what it means. If your parents aren’t open, you can find out the options on your own to inform yourself at a health center.”
“My brother gets a lot more freedom than I do and he’s younger. If I was to do the same, act as he does, I would get grounded for 3 months! He would only get grounded for a week, literally,” stressed Lexy in a rather bothered tone.
Advice from Lexy:
“I know that having strict, traditional parents is not easy and it may or may not get easier as you get older but all I can say is that the more you’re able to prove to your parents that you’re trying to be obedient and the more you gain their trust, the easier it will be to enjoy your teen years. I know that we want to go out and have fun but our parents are usually right and they are only hard on us because they want the best for us. We may not understand certain things right now, but when we get older or become mothers, we too will want to protect our babies just as much as they are trying to protect us. Sometimes parents mess up but it is up to us to decide what we let affect us on a daily basis, so don’t let little things distract your pretty little minds. Instead, focus on finishing school and getting a part-time job. The sooner you graduate, the faster you’ll be out of your parent’s house living your own,” shares Lexy.