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10 Things That Aren't So Weird to a 1st-Generation Parent

Photograph by Twenty20

Being a first generation American has its perks, for sure. But it also means that my mother and father don't quite always understand my parenting style, which can seem unorthodox to the immigrant's naked eye.

I am firmly planted in my American parenting ways, though I frequently dip into traditions from my parents' countries of origin (Guatemala and Mexico). Not always comprehensible to the nth-generation American millennial's naked eye.

Here's what I mean:

1. I trust the Internet for parenting advice, but I also rely on a home remedies from time to time. Persistent cough? Rub Vicks and salt on your feet, put socks on, go to bed. Works every time!

2. I want my kids to speak perfect English but also have a strong connection to the language of my ancestors too. I break into Spanish at a moment's notice and promptly switch back to English.

3. My parents often reminded me of their sacrifices as immigrants. Now I look forward to reminding my own child that I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, that I had no network or connections to help me start my career and no matter what, he's got it easy by comparison.

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4. I normally don't allow my child to have sweets. Unless, of course, it's a delicious dessert made by Grandma or brought over by relative who is visiting from outside the United States.

5. I don't force my kid to hug relatives, which my parents think is super weird because I had to hug every aunt, uncle and second cousin twice removed. Body integrity, people!

6. I can only clean the house listening to music in Spanish. Because it's a Latina mother tradition since the beginning of time (actually the 1980s). My son will know the lyrics to all of Selena's songs.

7. My son will grow up in a household where my family invites themselves over and relatives visit from out of the country and stay over for indefinite periods of time. An aunt came to visit a few weeks ago and, of course, I knew I couldn't ask her how long she was staying because that would be viewed as rude. Our family never stays at hotels when they come visit, that's just a big no-no.

8. I truly believe my son is always cold. While my mother will normally take it even one step further and dress him in layers of clothing when it's 60 degrees (in case you didn't know, that's considered cold in Los Angeles). My friends and I joke that if our kids get sick, our Latina mothers will tell us it's because we let them leave the house without a baby hat or a jacket.

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9. Meanwhile, while I tell my mom that parenting is hard and I didn't even know what I was getting into, she looks at me like I'm insane for even expecting life to be easy. After all, she immigrated to the U.S. after several of her family members were killed in a civil war. So, clearly, my problems are nothing in comparison.

10. My life exists at the intersection of two worlds—the American one I grew up in and the Latino identity I forged visiting my families in Guatemala and Mexico. The biggest perk is that I know that there's no right way to parent. I have the benefit of parenting in a way that reflects the best of three cultures.

And that is awesome.

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