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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hispanic Culture: Roles

Hispanic culture follows traditional roles ("roles" is spelled the same in Spanish but the "e"  [and s] is pronounced with the equivalent of the short sound in English). Normally, the father is the bread winner outside of the home. He works really hard to provide for his family. Usually, this involves long days and coming home tired.  Arriving at home he expects his wife, who is a homemaker, to greet him with a good "cena" (dinner). Evening will involve watching TV (e.g. "deportes" - sports or "noticias" - news) and relaxing. In his home he usually is the one who "lleva los pantalones," the one who is in charge. This means that he is mostly involved in major decisions but delegates the running of the home to his wife. He is also involved in major discipline issues. The roles are clear cut and no inter mixing (e.g. men don't do dishes, don't cook, don't do laundry).

The wife is involved in caring for the children, educating, and disciplining them. She runs the day to day operations of the home. She wears many hats including being the official cook. It is also the wife that also will make sure the children are following the traditional religion (Catholicism for the most part). She is often involved in church activities.

Traditionally, roles are tied with idea of respect both to parents, grandparents and any adult. Children are expected to respect parents and not question any decision. The same is the case with grand parents. Contradicting, raising your voice or yelling to parents or grand parents is strictly forbidden. This reminds me of the constant lectures to our children concerning how they (i.e., children their age) speak to parents today and what we got if we spoke back to our parents in the same manner when were were growing up. It usually starts with "Si you le hubiera hablado a mi mamá o papá como tu me hablas..." ("If I had spoken to my mom or dad the way you speak to me..")

Changes are taking place the Hispanic culture, especially relating to family. With this follows the neglect in the basic values taught to children. Respect to parents and grand parents has eroded. Behavioral issues in children have become more prevalent (as a teacher in public schools this has been my observation as well) and in my opinion, much because of the lack of instruction and discipline in the home.

There are several implications for the Gospel relating to roles. First, we need to make sure that we engage males when sharing the Gospel. It is important to get them involved in spiritual things and help them become servant leaders, not just providers in their homes. This has been a struggle in many Hispanic churches. Male leadership is lacking and more needs to be done to engage the males in our Hispanic culture. Second, we need offer family training. We need to have clear and explicit Bible instruction concerning the roles of husbands, wives and children. Thirdly, we need to provide a structure in the church that helps affirm the traditional values which includes respect for everyone and especially for the things of God (Hispanics who attend a Catholic church show great respect for everything they encounter). Fourth, we need to show leadership ourselves. They understand the concept of leadership (most Latin American countries have been influenced by the idea of "caudillo," one man who leads the way). American culture asks permission for everything to make sure they are not offending. Hispanics are not offended when a leader is forthright. Many times they won't do anything unless they are "forced" to do it.
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