Young Parenting

Jhenifer Cortez, Staff Writer

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It is widely known that many students are set with the difficult task of taking care of their younger siblings since the day they were born. Whether it’s just babysitting for a little while to taking full responsibility for their younger sibling especially among Latin students, how do Latin families’ beliefs shape the way girls see their role within the family?

Being one of those girls that have been taking care of younger family members since I can remember— it’s difficult. The first time I had to look after someone other than myself was when I was around six. One of my cousins just had a baby, and I was asked to look after them. Yeah, that task was given to me was not really hard, but all I can remember is, since then, I started to put others’ needs before my own.  Even today, I am still watching over my younger sisters while my parents are at work. I feed them, clothe them, put them to sleep, take them out, and teach them. Sometimes I feel like it’s too much, and I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way.

Even though Anthropological studies show it provides youth with a sense of purpose and meaning, responsibility, selflessness, and self-reliance which can help prepare for one’s future and maturity. These things can also backfire and lead them to gain other adult-like behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, dropping out of school, etc.

When growing up in a Latino family there is always this division between male and female family members that I never quite understand. Even now, I refuse to acknowledge that the males are always supposed to do the hard jobs like cutting the lawn, lifting heavy things, but they would never dare step inside a kitchen to cook or wash the dishes, doing daily house chores are only for a woman to do.

I feel like things like these, this strong sense masculism, also known is machismo in Latin families, leads parents to make girls take care of their younger siblings in order to help them see what their role in life will be. Having experienced this myself, I was always angry to see my older cousins going out of the house to have fun instead of helping me watch over the younger ones only due to the fact they were male or “machos/hombre” as they say. These beliefs Latin families have about sticking together and following the rules can sometimes be a burden…instead of a gift.