Unfortunately my grandmother passed away before I was born and my grandfather has lived in a different state than me for most of my life but I have seen firsthand my own mother become a grandmother and I have noted that her role in our family is conducive with that of grandparents of other Hispanic families.
The abuelos importance in Hispanic family traditions is far-reaching as they are involved in everyday family life matters. The image of a granny and grandpa in rocking chairs on the porch riding out their golden years in peace doesn’t necessarily apply in many Hispanic families.
Instead Hispanic grandparents take active roles as leaders of the family and in households. For one thing, most Hispanic grandparents opt to stay close to their children and their grandchildren. I don’t think my mother could bear the thought of not being able to see my nephews any time she wished.
The paternal and maternal instincts of Hispanic grandparents don’t seem to dwindle with age. In fact they only seem to get stronger. As a result many Hispanic grandparents take an active role in raising their grandchildren-a role that is all the more pronounced and vital especially if both parents work.
How Does the Latin American Culture Value Grandparents
By and large Hispanic grandparents are relied on heavily in the child-rearing process, as providers of sage advice for all aspects of life, the anchors of the family support system, as authorities and links to our heritage and the conveyors of Hispanic traditions. Grandparents are absolutely indispensable in Hispanic families if only for the experienced advice they have to offer.
Generally, Hispanic grandparents are seen by their grandchildren as the kinder and gentler authoritative alternatives to their parents. This can work against the entire family unit however since there seems to be an inherent urge for Hispanic grandparents to spoil their grandchildren. Still, grandchildren tend to grow extremely attached to their Abuelitas and Abuelitos as a source of comfort and nurturing.
To their children, grandparents are counselors and mediators. I couldn’t count on my fingers and toes how many times my brother-in-law sought my mother’s counsel regarding his fiery Latina wife (my sister, read my article Why Do latinas Marry Gringos). I also couldn’t even begin to tell you how much my nephews have benefitted from my mother’s experience.
Where my sister is confounded with her 2 son’s behaviors, my mother recognizes them and knows how to deal with them. That is not to say that my sister is incapable of handling complicated family matters (in fact quite to the contrary, after all she has one of the best examples to draw from) but there is a certain degree of experience that all mothers who are not yet grandmothers will gain in time but have not yet attained.
Abuelos Importance in Hispanic Family Traditions – Steering the Ship
In my mind at least, grandparents or abuelos importance in Hispanic family traditions can be assimilated to a captain of a ship-righting the course when the gales threaten to cast it into oblivion and quelling internalized mutinies and upstarts. They are anchors in the strongest sense of the word and images of stability, warmth, wisdom of love within Hispanic families.