By Angela Padrón

The concept of family is very important in Hispanic cultures. In Latin American countries, the idea of being part of a family unit is at the center of people’s lives. The needs of the family are generally placed above those of individuals. Families support each other financially and emotionally. Members of Hispanic families tend to be very close knit. In many homes, there could be two or three generations of family members living together or at least near each other. Grandparents are highly respected and play a major role in the lives of their younger family members. Their years of experience and vast knowledge are well valued. As a result, the younger generations learn about cooperation, responsibility, respect for authority, and respect for family members.

Hispanic families also honor traditions. These practices are passed down from generation to generation with a sense of pride. Many times, families will have regular gatherings to spend time together, especially for holidays. They come together to eat, dance, play games, and converse. These events often include not just immediate family members, but extended family as well, such as aunts, uncles, and cousins. In addition, close friends and neighbors are often considered  honorary members of the family and will be invited. Conversations can carry on well into the night and cover a myriad of topics including politics, sports, religion, among others.

In Anglo cultures, being a godparent is important at a baby’s baptism, but the title is generally considered honorary. However, padrinos play a far greater role in Hispanic families. They act almost like another parent to a child throughout the child’s entire life. Godparents are people who are close to the family and trustworthy. They always show their love and affection for the child and are responsible and dependable.

Being part of a family is everything in Hispanic countries. It is the central focus of people’s lives from the beginning to the end. Just like Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, there really is no place like home!

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