Empty Nest vs. the Hispanic concept of family

pdb__604188000_emptynest_46256.gifI grew up with traditional values with a wonderful Puerto Rican mother who placed family above all else. 

I left home early and my brother and sister left home in their mid-twenties.  She kept an open door policy (even today) for her children. If for any reason we found that our lives did not turn out quite the way we wanted it to we all were welcomed back into the fold.

I am the same way. Right now my daughter is 19.  Her needs are a little different than say how I was at that age.  Because she has dealt with a variety of learning disabilities (from the time they were diagnosed in preschool) I already knew she may or may not fly the nest when that time came.  Her LD teacher already informed me that my daughter would more than likely need extra help to make it out on her own if that time ever came.  In Puerto Rico I have an aunt who is in her early 60’s who never left.  She also never married.  This is the way I feel…when you take on the responsibility of a parent who says that ends at 18 or whenever they finish high school and why is it some parents are in such a rush to throw their children out once they have reached “adulthood”?  Who the hell thinks 18 is an adult?  Legally they can sign contracts and vote but other than that I really don’t see them as being up to par maturity wise with someone who is say in their mid-twenties.  Why is it in America some children are expected to grow up so fast and why is it in America it seems there are parents eager to get rid of their children once they finish high school???????????????  What happened to the essence of family????

Of COURSE I don’t think all American families are this way.  Of COURSE I think children need to be provided the necessary tools to propser on their own.  But if for some reason, as in my case, there are mitgating factors that prevent a child from leaving home at the “designated age” or “expiration date” of remaning at home…then these factors have to be taken into consideration.

I know some people would be shocked to read this but if you do not try to widen your concept of what family is, what it all entails and that not all cultures view family as say the way it is viewed here in the USA then you will never get me or people like the Arabs, Hispanics, Orientals, etc…the Hispanic family also tends to include grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  We are large and full of vibrancy, enjoying the essence of one another…loving it and living it.

So what exactly is the empty nest syndrome?  It is “the name given to a psychological condition that can affect a woman around the time that one or more of her children leave home.”  Wonder why men are not included in this?  Hmmmmm…..

I found this paper entitled Las Familias Latinas Cultura Lenguaje to be entlightening regarding the traditional Hispanic family and it fits my own as to what I grew up with and am more familer:


    1. The Hispanic family is the individual’s primary source of social support and extends beyond a nuclear family configuration 
    1. The Hispanic definition of family extends to non-blood relatives, including compadre, comadre, padrino (godfather), and madrina (godmother)- a ritualistic kinship system
    1. Hijos de crianza are also considered part of the extended family network, representing children who are or have been primarily reared by the mother in the client family.
    1. An extended family member does not necessarily need to be a part of a client’s household to wield influence. Often geographic distance is of little consequence in gauging a family member’s power and influence.
    1. Many Hispanic mothers do not experience the “empty-nest syndrome” because even when the children leave the home, mother-child interactions continue. Once grandchildren are born they tend to spend quite a bit of time with the grandmother, especially if residing in the same nearby community or city
    1. Hispanic mothers tend to be very tolerant of their children’s behavior, more often preferring the child’s father (or household male authority figure) to provide the discipline
    1. Children are traditionally taught to respect their elders, to be polite and humble
    1. The first place the Hispanic turns to for help is his or her family
    1. Hispanic children are not usually included in adult conversations. They are expected to act quiet, reserved and well-behaved in front of strangers.

Rebecca M. Cuevas De Caissie states in her website regarding the Hispanic culture and family that:

“Family by far is the most valued part of any Hispanic’s life I have ever met. When I say this I mean that in a very different way then anyone outside the Hispanic family would understand it. To this end I will explain what I mean by the statement of family being most valued. Beginning with growing up, as a young Hispanic, we do not look forward to the life ahead of us with thoughts of ourselves outside the family. We are not independent of the family unit. To the contrary, what are you without your family? To another race you are yourself, to the Hispanic, you are nothing. Everything you go through as you are growing up is shared with some member of the family. Children grow up hanging out with their brothers, sisters, and cousins as friends. There is no need to go out by yourself and leave the younger ones at home as if they are a burden. Of course there are the times when you spend alone, but most of the time you spend it enjoying company of your family. The love and treasuring that takes place in the Hispanic family I have never seen in any other family setting. The way in which your mother and father relate to you is different also. There is a respect that is demanded from children towards their elders. Your parents care for you, provide for you and protect you. Growing up you know that nothing is more important in their lives than you. No matter how busy the parents are, their is always time for the children. No matter what happens in life, one thing most children of Hispanic families grow up with, it is the essential knowledge that your parents and all the other adults in the family as well have always put you first.”

Indeed…who are we without the family?