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August 16th, 2012 at 5:01 am

What To Do About Cultural Traditions You Don’t Like

Latinos, like many other ethnic groups, are full of cultural traditions that define who we are and where we come from. As an immigrant from Peru married to someone from Puerto Rico, my husband and I are trying to make sure that our kids grow up not only speaking our native tongue, Spanish, but also embracing our Latino heritage, with all its customs and traditions. Sometimes, however, these don’t really jive with the world we live in today and many Latinos–although proud of their roots–don’t necessarily want to pass these traditions onto their children.

Take piercing baby girls’ ears, for example. In most of Latin America, baby girls leave the hospital with their ears pierced or they get them pierced soon after they’re born. No one thinks there’s anything wrong with that and one of the gifts moms usually get are tiny gold earrings for their newborn baby girl. I have absolutely no issue with this tradition and, in fact, my mom brought my daughter’s gold baby earrings from Peru. But many people in the United States have equated piercing baby girls’ ears with mutilation, which I think is totally ludicrous.

In the States, most moms prefer to let their daughters choose when to pierce their ears rather than doing it when they’re babies and they have no say in the situation. While I respect that point of view, I think mine needs to be respected too.

On the other hand, I don’t generally subscribe to the Latino traditions of hugging and kissing everyone they meet. I mean, I’ve no problem doing it as an adult if the situation warrants it, but I don’t really feel comfortable with asking my children to do the same. Most Latinos will tell you that, growing up, we were usually “forced” to say hello to people we barely knew (our parents’ friends, for example) with a kiss. I have taught my children to be loving with our immediate family, but I don’t ask them to hug or kiss anyone else outside that circle.

What do you think? 

Image credit: Ray_from_LA

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s currently working on her first book, based on her blog, to be published in September. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.


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1 Comment on 'What To Do About Cultural Traditions You Don’t Like'

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  1. Roxana,

    Admittedly, I know a lot of people have strong feelings when to pierce a child’s ear. “Let them
    decide” is being replaced by parental decision when mommy intuition knows, “earlier is better” from either personal or friend’s experiences of unpleasant childhood ear piercing. I think it just depends on your own personal choice whether or not you wish your baby or little girl to have pierced ears.

    When your new baby girl is lying in your arms, you start to imagine her future. They are beautiful, kind little people with dreams of changing the world for the better. You want your precious angel to have gems hanging off of her ears but you know do not know when the right time is. The best time to pierce your baby’s ears is with in the first few months because a baby’s senses are not yet fully developed so they will not be aware of the pain for a long period of time. Some babies do not feel the ear piercing at all.

    In many hispanic speaking countries, baby girls have their ears pierced in the nursery before they leave the hospital with their mothers. Alternately, you can also get your baby’s ears pierced the week you take her out of the hospital by an aunt or abuela if desired.

    I was also worried what others would say if I was “one of those moms who pierced their baby’s ears.” Our ped said when mommy could care for them was the best time including as newborns just days old. She gave me a list of suggestions to make things go smoothly. I was relieved, and no longer worrying what others would say and took her the next day to have them pierced after calling around:)

    According to my mom, mine were done as a baby by my aunt with a needle and thread leaving it in for about a week before putting little gold hoops in each ear. The piercing instrument used now is much safer and uses disposable sterile earrings according to our ped and the shops in my phone interview to find the right person and place.

    My ped emphasized the importance of finding the most experienced person to pierce your baby’s
    ears. How do you find out how long they have been piercing ears? You ask them! Asking the manager or asst manager at places like Claire’s, Piercing Pagoda or Merle Norman will usually lead you immediately to the right person.

    I found a nice older lady at Merle Norman who has done baby ear piercing for 15 years. When I spoke with her on the phone, she exudited confidence in her ability and experience with all age groups. How to judge once you’ve arrived with your baby to have her ears pierced? Three things on your list should be 1) sanitation, 2)experience,3)and patience are the most important things to look for in the shop and ear-piercer themselves.

    If any moms are on the fence and would like more info from our ped, don’t hesitate to write me an e-mail.

    [email protected]

    Angie Tune

    22 Aug 12 at 2:58 pm

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