Most of what we believe to be morally correct and the values we hold are a result of what we were taught by our family. Many Hispanic immigrants were raised with conservative beliefs and practices, and once they migrated to the United States they began to change due to a more liberal environment. In this blog I will talk about my personal experience growing up in a conservative household in hope to provide a tangible example of this. I grew up with both my mom and dad, both immigrants from El Salvador, and was raised with very similar beliefs they were raised with. Now that I am older and I see how my younger sister, 11 years old, is being raised, I can see that my parents have loosened up and are not as strict with the values they teach us.
For example, growing up, my mom and dad would tell me that I should not get my ears pierced because there was no reason to have them. They said that if God wanted me to have holes in my ears He would have made me with them. It was because of this that I had never really liked the idea of them and thought I did not want earrings. Once I turned 15 I realized that I actually did and begged my dad to let me get my ears pierced. It was not easy but after several confrontations, he finally gave in. This was such a big deal for him that he even recorded the momentous event on his phone. This past weekend I went home for fall break to find that my sister had already gotten her ears pierced, she said it was not that difficult to convince our dad. Now my brother also wants to get his ears pierced but luckily my parents have not strayed so much from their original beliefs that they will not agree to that.
Another example is in the way I was allowed to interact with guys. My parents always told me “senoritas con las senoritas y senoritos con senoritos” (ladies with the ladies and guys with the guys). In telling me this they taught me that girls should make friends with girls and hang out with mainly girls and vice versa. They always told me it was okay to have guys friends as long as he was only a friend and we interacted in groups only, never alone. In a way this always made me self conscious when I talked with some of my guy friends because of fear of what, not only people, but also what my parents would say. When I go to church my younger sister always meets up with a boy around her age and they go off to play and just hang out. Although this is a lot more common now I was never allowed to do that at her age.
These are two very basic examples and I do not mean to generalize for all immigrants. I simply hope to provide a concrete example of the way immigrants slowly start to redefine their beliefs and family values once in the United States. Part of it is because it is more acceptable in the United States than in Latin American countries and slowly it becomes “normal.”