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If there is one thing we Latinos know, it is that nothing in excess is good — neither abuelita’s caldo nor aunts’ mistrust. The same goes for our traditions.
And in Latino families, the pillar that sustains these traditions is usually precisely the grandmother, who, with her recipes and sayings, has always provided us with tools to face the world.
However, it happens that each generation faces a different world.
This is how the new generations have adapted traditions and taken them a step further.
The importance of maintaining the family nucleus
The traditions of weekend barbecues, crowded houses, and anxiously awaiting the cousin’s summer wedding are a constant in Latino families.
However, as time goes by, new generations have left behind conceptions of the nuclear family that may not fit their vision of life.
In fact, new research has found that the patterns of first and second generations are often different. The results show that most children of immigrants are less likely to marry when compared to the children of native-born whites.
After all, second and third-generation Latinos, especially Gen Zs, have entirely dismantled the myth of marriage as a guarantee of stability.
Preserving language and traditions
Being bilingual or fluent in both languages is also a way to preserve identity, even if our grandparents are frustrated by our broken Spanish.
According to the Pew Research Center, language use is one important way parents foster their children’s Hispanic identity.
Two Pew surveys in the U.S. Latino community revealed that childhood experiences with Spanish fade rapidly over generations, despite widespread support for the language among Hispanics.
Eighty-five percent of self-identified foreign-born Hispanics say that growing up, their parents often encouraged them to speak Spanish. But that percentage drops to 68% among second-generation U.S.-born Hispanics and only 26% of third-generation or older Hispanics.
In contrast, only 9% of self-identified non-Hispanics of Hispanic ancestry say their parents often encouraged them to speak Spanish, again reflecting this group’s distancing from their immigrant roots.
Though Latinos say it is important to speak Spanish, about 40 million people in the U.S. say they speak Spanish at home today, making Spanish the second most widely spoken language in the U.S. But while the number of Spanish speakers nationally is increasing, among self-identified Hispanics, the proportion speaking it at home is declining.
Opening the conversation about mental health
What is the point of continuing to deny such a real problem in our Latino community? Worse yet, why do we continue to collaborate with yet another obstacle to the full realization of our people’s potential?
The Latino community is as vulnerable to mental illness as any other community, but we face a very significant inequity regarding access to health services.
Did you know that more than half of Hispanic young adults ages 18-25 with serious mental illness do not receive treatment?
This inequity puts these communities at greater risk for more severe and persistent mental health conditions because mental health conditions often worsen without treatment.
In fact, 35.1% of Hispanic/Latino adults with mental illness receive treatment each year, compared to the U.S. average of 46.2%. This is due to many unique barriers to care.
From lack of access to bilingual health care to lower health insurance coverage and poverty, our community is at a severe disadvantage when battling mental illness.
But if we open up the conversation at home and debunk the myth, the change can be dramatic.
Just look at the younger generations who turn to social media and other platforms to break down the stigma.
Dismantling the sacrifice and work myth
Latin America’s idea that time off equals time without production is an endemic disease. Health, leisure, and rest are often perceived as a waste of time, to the point that they have been the framework for labor exploitation.
The good news is that the new generations are understanding that a university career does not have to be a yoke, nor a profession a prison.
With the development of new technologies, remote work has opened the doors to new work horizons that seem to promise a lighter future, less exhausting, and a higher quality of life.