The importance of family (Hispanic version)

One thing my Puerto Rican roots taught me was the value of familial ties:

Family Values

Traditionally, the Hispanic family is a close-knit group and the most important social unit. The term familia usually goes beyond the nuclear family. The Hispanic “family unit” includes not only parents and children but also extended family. In most Hispanic families, the father is the head of the family, and the mother is responsible for the home. Individuals within a family have a moral responsibility to aid other members of the family experiencing financial problems, unemployment, poor health conditions, and other life issues.

Family ties are very strong: when someone travels to another town or city to study or for a short visit (e.g., vacation, business, medical reasons), staying with relatives or even with friends of relatives is a common practice. Families often gather together to celebrate holidays, birthdays, baptisms, first communions, graduations, and weddings. Hispanic families instill in their children the importance of honor, good manners, and respect for authority and the elderly. Preserving the Spanish language within the family is a common practice in most Hispanic homes.

Staying with relatives is something quite common for us when we have vistors from out of town and vice versa.  It has always been difficult for me to understand why families would expect relatives to stay in a hotel if they have plenty of room in their home.  I also have never quite grasped how children are expected to hit the door and make it on their own at 18

Sure you don’t want to enable your children to not be self-sufficient but some times kicking them out the door so you can redo their bedroom into another study or exercise room is completely foreign to me and to most Hispanics.

 And what if, God forbid, your child leaves and something happens (divorce, losing their job, health problems) which brings them back home…..what then? 

Are you done being a parent?

In today’s economically stressful times more children are heading back home after college or after losing their job.  Are these kids failures?  I think not.  However, I do believe that the child should make a concerted effort to overcome their present dilemma and keep pushing forward towards independence.  I don’t believe in sitting on one’s laurels if you are physically and mentally able to make an honest living. 

The importance of family has always been engrained in me since day 1.  I simply cannot think any other way.  Feelings of guilt consume me if I do not make efforts to try and be there for my mom or siblings.  And being the eldest, well that compounds it all. 

Family is all we have in the end.  They are there for us (for the most part) when we need them and at the end they are the ones we turn to for solace.  Why sever those ties if you don’t need to?  Sure not everyone has the ideal and we can create our own generic families but blood ties are strong and I for one refuse to give up my cultural heritage of la familia.


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