Leaving The Nest: It’s Not Always at 18 For Latinos

FROM JUAN: I’ve been telling Sybil for years now how much I admire her voice and her pictures as a Mexican mother, woman and individual.  Today, I am deeply pleased to introduce to you dear friends my good friend and creative writer Sybil Monciváis Sánchez.  Sybil and I first met over a decade ago and recently we have reconnected again as married couple friends.  I know you’ll enjoy Sybil’s unique voice, perspective and very soon her photography as well.  Gracias por su amistad y lealtad siempre.

latino-family-picnic-laura-brightwood juanofwords

I’ve seen it on TV and heard about it from others… “Once you’re 18, you’re out the door!”  That’s right! It’s time to start your new life, be independent and be your own person.  So when people here in this country learn that this isn’t necessarily the norm in Hispanic families you almost always get a shocked look and a “what?!”

Growing up, my parents never told me, “mija, once you graduate from high school you’re going to have to make it on your own, start your new life and do so under your own roof.”  On the contrary.  From my parents I heard this all the time: “you are not leaving the house until you get married!”  There was no need to, they would say.

Why go off and get your own place when you are fine here at home with your familia? 

Why pay rent? 

Why pay utilities? 

Why all these needless, extra costs?!

Ohhhh! So you feel you need more responsibilities?  Fine!

You can pay bills here.

Wash your own clothes and make your own food.

But until you get married, you don’t need to call another place home.

You heard right!  Why go somewhere else?  They would explain that if you stayed at home and saved money, you’d be able to afford your own house when you got married.  I thought that’s how it was for everyone!  Why would anybody want to leave their home and their parents?

Fortunately, I had a great relationship with my parents and I loved (and still love) spending time with them.  However, I began to understand the need for independence once I started dating.

Yup, living under their roof means you have to live by their rules.  So as long as you don’t mind that, living at home has it’s perks.

How about you?  Did your parents expect you to leave the house as soon as you were 18, or were you more like me and not expected to leave the nest until you had a ring on it?

Sybil Monciváis Sánchez has worked for a local Spanish television station since 2003, in the Community Affairs Department. She is a wife and proud mother of three. You can follow her on Twitter at @sybil_sanchez.

13 thoughts on “Leaving The Nest: It’s Not Always at 18 For Latinos

  1. I am not Latina but it turns out my family is a little unusual. I did not know until I was an adult how special my family is. It was just amusing when I got older and realized it was actually possible to have a wedding with fewer than two hundred people. This other thing though shocked me and I still don’t understand it — moving out of your parents’ house when you finish school and never coming back. I wanted to get out and live under my own rules, but I always knew my parents really weren’t wanting me to leave at all! Anytime I needed to come back my parents were glad they’d see my face every day. It’s nice for me having married a Mexican and married into his family, and they feel the same way about it as me, how I grew up with my family. My daughter is 21 almost 22 and I love how my husband never bats an eye that she still has her bedroom. I don’t understand pushing kids out of the house. I’d be delighted if my kids wanted to live with me even after they’re married. Grandchildren in my house sounds like a taste of Heaven to me! It’s so nice to be married to someone who feels the same way!!!

    1. Hi Beth,
      That’s the beautiful thing about parents, they are unconditional and are there when you need them. My husband, daughter and I had to move in with my parents for a brief time after we got married and it was nice to be back and seeing my parents every day…but there’s no place like your own place. I love it when my kids spend time with their grandparents but I like that they do so only for a while (uno que otro sleepover). I want my parents and my husband’s parents to just be grandparents, they already did their job raising us. 🙂
      Thanks for reading the blog and sharing your comment. Hope you have a wonderful day!

  2. Exactly the same situation for me. I dated my high school boyfriend and married him at 26. Then and only then did we buy a house and move out of our parent’s homes. Unfortunately that marriage only lasted a year. He had other plans. But I stayed in that home with the full knowledge that at any point I could go home to my parents and just be part of their household as a contributing adult. I choose to stay in my own place precisely for the “dating” issues listed above but soon after met my now husband of 6 yrs. I completely relate to your post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Candy and Lilliana, Thanks for reading the post. Yeah, dating is a whole other topic that I think, at least in my case, is very different from what I see in shows. I’ll have to make that my next blog.
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  4. I don’t remember my parents asking me to stay but I don’t remember them asking me to leave either. I did stick around for about a year while I went to a local community college but then moved across state from them once I had a place to go to finish college. Once my parents split, my mom moved closer to me, we lived together but more like roommates than parent/child. My dad, I think, was never very happy that I wanted to live so far away. Thanks for sharing Sybil.

  5. Recently I moved from my fathers home after living with him for 6 years after moving from my mothers home at 18. My mom was not happy that I left her home at 18. However she was happy to know I wasn’t on my own and instead I was living with my dad. Now that I moved in with a roommate she is not happy. My father and stepmother are happy for me though and needless to say they are both Mexican. My step mother had the most insane rules. Mexican lady wanting to meet someone who invited me on a casual date even for a cup of coffee to test the waters. There is no such thing as casual dating or testing the waters in Mexican culture. I had to ask for permission to go out even with a female friend and at one point to the very last I only females were the only ones allowed to give me rides, anyways I had to tell them where I was going -If I had permission to go, who was going to be there, if it was all female, oh and I had a strict curfew. Meaning that if there were friends that houses were before mine because we all went together then I was fucked. Yet they don’t mind me moving out. I was recently in a relationship where he had to rush to take me home and it was even more ridiculous because he was much younger than me and I put him through my childish shit. He broke up about two weeks after I moved out. Now that I’m independent and going to school on top of working I don’t have time to work or take care of a relationship at this moment. Now I’m independent and since my mom found out she would call me and tell me that she wants us living together and asks me when am I moving back. Honestly it’s annoying. We all know that in Latino families there are a ton of drama and there is no way in hell that I would want to go back where there are a ton of rules that are appropriate for a teenager of fourteen but not for a grown adult of twenty-four. My mom: “Oh mija get married, then you’ll move out.” Me: “Mami, if I don’t have time to date someone what makes you think I’m going to get married anytime soon? What makes you think a man is going to want to marry a 30 year old child who has rules acceptable for a fourteen year old?” She says that a man that is of good morals would want to marry a woman of her home because a woman of her home is a decent virgin lady who would not cheat. I remind her that we were all virgins once and a piece of paper doesn’t change the fact if you’re a decent lady or not. My mother lives in the past and sometimes I feel like she would be much happier if she moved back to her country. I even considered buying her a really nice home in Cancun once I get my business running.

    1. Oh, boy. Your mom sure is a traditionalist. Well, tell her this:
      “No, mami. I’m not moving back home.”
      “What if I don’t ever get married? Do you expect me to stay at home forever?”
      “Mom, this is the 21st century, not the 19th.”

      Hang in there, Raven. Stay strong. Remember: you’re your own person and don’t let anyone else, not even a relative, tell you different. 🙂

  6. I’ll tell you right off how I feel about having to live at home until I’m married. But first, some questions: what if I don’t get married? What are you afraid I’ll do once I’m on my own? Are you afraid that your “pure, innocent” little girl won’t be a virgin anymore? WHY should I continue to live at home when many other people my age have been on their own for YEARS? I have answers to these questions, but here is my response to this overall: I HATE that Hispanic women are still made to stay at home into their 20s, 30s, 40s–or even beyond that. It’s pathetic! I want to live on my own. I want to have my own dishes, my own bed, my own TV, my own hours, my own meals, my own EVERYTHING! Why should I have to have a damn ring on my finger just to move out? No! I am a grown woman and I want my own life, period!

    1. Those are EXACTLY my thoughts. I want my own life, my own schedule, my own everything! Why is that so hard to understand for Hispanic parents? Maybe my case is a little different because my mom is a single mom, which makes her cling to me even tighter, and she was borderline verbally and emotionally abusive growing up, which makes me want to move out even more. I just graduated from college last weekend and any time this topic comes up we end up fighting. She always mentions all the sacrifices she’s made, how Americanized I’ve become, how there’s no way she’s letting me go off on my own at my age (to be fair, I am a young graduate at 19 – but still!), that she won’t let me follow the footsteps of my ungrateful sister (who has moved out but has a VERY rocky relationship with our mom), and that I’ll only leave her once I get married.

      I feel angry, frustrated, and GUILTY af. All her talk about her sacrifices has me feeling like a bad daughter, but I’ve yearned to escape ever since I was in middle school because the situation was so bad. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to “abandon” her or cut her off completely, but I need distance, space, and true independence.

  7. I feel you and the people in the comments. I live in Puerto Rico and my family is the traditional latin one while everyone around me has more of an american influenced family in terms of taking your own decisions, no need for permission, staying out late, hanging out in other people’s places, etc. even when living with their parents. I stay during the weekdays in an apartment for college, but because they pay 50% of those expenses ( i however pay my phone and all my personal needs) I still basically live with them and they expect me to go back EVERY WEEKEND. Other people would say “wow you visit your fam every weekend” and “you should stay this one to go out or something”, but in reality I was kind of obliged to do so. If stayed they would ask innumerable questions. At first, if they called at night and I was out or with people they would go crazy, so I just realized it was better to just live my life and not tell them anything about it. But once im back there (every weekend), if im going somewhere it becomes a matter of asking permission instead of casually informing it. I got into a relationship some time ago and now I stay with him all the time to the point I basically live there on weekdays, but again, i still go back on the weekends and if im doing something with him while im there, there come all the questions and conditions. And it is sickening, i find it so stupid they cannot understand I can have my own lifestyle that differs from theirs. I have had some fights with my bf because he also finds it stupid, but cannot understand me trying not to kill my relationship with them even if it affects me. It is all very complicated and he even feels I do not care enough for him. Only reason I haven’t completely left yet is because they help me with uni expenses and I know once I leave to officially live with my bf (without marrying) the relationship with my parents can get worse. With the pandemic they obviously wanted me to stay with them because classes are online, but Ive managed to stay on my college town thanks to well planned excuses. I finish uni soon so I’m waiting for that to finally leave. I have some money saved and I’ll be entering a PhD program outside of the island with a scholarship so fortunately will be living comfortably and after that, even if I go back to PR, I expect to be able to live on my own already.

  8. I wanted to congratulate all of you latinas who made the choice to become independent from your parents when you could. I wish I had made that choice the many times I had an opportunity to but decided to instead, be a “good daughter” and “do what’s right for the family”.

    I am in my mid 40’s now, my mom still lives with me and will continue to for a few months longer until she retires. My parents have several rental properties but moved into my home when I went to college since it was a fixer upper and it would have been more difficult to rent mine. So they rented theirs and have been living in my house for over 15 years. I went to college in a different state and worked there for several years but when the financial collapse occurred in 2008 I came back home. At that time, my parents were going to be retiring in the next 5 years and moving back to Mexico. I decided I wanted to enjoy living with them for those 5 years because I knew it would be very difficult to see them often when they moved to Mexico.

    When I moved in with them, I also moved back in with the other siblings still in the house, which meant we had a lot of drama especially with one sibling. This caused a lot of tension in the family, to the point where I packed my belongings in boxes and shipped them to another state to get as far away as possible from them. We dealt with the problematic sibling, I stayed, and we were one big happy family again (minus 1 that got shipped to Mexico).

    Dad retired a few years ago, is living in Mexico, but mom is still living with me. I love her dearly, but I see the toll it has taken on my relationships. I don’t have many girlfriends, it’s difficult to have a significant other over, and someone is always asking where your going and with whom and why you are doh g this or that and giving unsolicited advice.

    So I find myself working a lot to avoid going home and my relationship with my mom has really started to deteriorate in the last couple of months. I really just want my space and don’t know I will make the next few mi that work between us.

    Sometimes she tells me she does not want to move to Mexico and I can understand why. So I am really worried she will not want to leave and I don’t want to hurt her feelings by telling her she will have to move out. It’s difficult to love your parents who will do anything to help you but also detach from that umbilical cord.

    My advice is to love your family but please don’t let the pressures of our culture ruin your adult life. You can help them and be there for them but you don’t have to sacrifice your freedom.

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