Latinos are too focused on material success

Over the past 25 years I have spoken to thousands of Latinos. As a professional interviewer specializing in the U.S. Hispanic market, my job is to ask questions and to listen carefully. I have heard Latinos speak of their dreams and aspirations. Some have related stories of how they grew up in this country; often struggling to fit in. Others have spoken of what motivated their migration from Latin America; and of the difficulties, frustrations, and obstacles encountered in their quest to achieve that elusive “American Dream.” The majority does not feel accomplished. Why? The sad reality is that most Latinos, and especially new Latino immigrants, are bound to have a hard time achieving their dreams because they are often too focused on achieving financial success.

Hispanic immigrants work very hard to succeed in their pecuniary dream quest. To “make it here” is very important to U.S. Latinos. Many came to the U.S. leaving behind their family, their friends, their land, and their culture. Coming here was a sacrifice. They endured that sacrifice in order to financially live a better life and, most importantly, to provide a better life for their children. In fact, most often when Latino parents are asked about their personal goals and ambitions they answer by saying that everything they do is for the purpose of providing a better life for their children. This tendency of self-sacrifice is especially prevalent in the Hispanic female.

While Hispanics work very hard to achieve their American dream, many find it very difficult on their families. In many cases, it is the Latino male who arrives in the U.S. first. Their original thinking is to make enough money to return to their families. As time goes on, many men find it more feasible to bring their family to the U.S., while they continue their pursuit for financial independence. Even at this stage, many new immigrants continue with their plan of making enough money to return to their homeland. The reality, however, is that most immigrants end up staying. Once they live in this country for a few years, they start to release those bonds with their country of origin by strengthening ties with a new homeland. These new ties become stronger when new immigrants have children born in the U.S. The parents decide to stay for the sake of their children.

Latinos try to succeed by working very hard. The men often have two jobs and find it difficult to spend quality time with their families. They often leave most of the child rearing responsibilities to their wives. While the traditional Hispanic mother always stayed at home and contentedly bore most of these responsibilities, the new Latina immigrant finds herself with very little time to raise her children. Latinas often complain that life in the U.S. is too fast and stressful, and that they lack the large support network of family and friends that exists in their homeland. They also see themselves forced to work out of the house, or motivated by the American culture to pursue a career of their own. In trying to do it all, their children end up suffering. The parents cannot do it all and supervise the children appropriately.

The lack of parental supervision is a growing concern in the Hispanic community. There are many two-income and single parent households. These families often have difficulty supervising their children after school. Additionally, tired parent who are franticly fixing dinner at night and preparing for the next day may not be taking enough time out to inquire about their children’s activities and/or school issues. These Latino families lack the support offered by extended family members in their country of origin. Back “home” there was always a relative willing to assume the parental responsibilities if needed.

To make things worse, many new Latino immigrants relocate to urban neighborhoods in big cities where crime, drugs, and other negative societal influences abound. In their country of origin Latinos often lived in smaller towns where everyone knew everybody else. Their children were protected there because everyone kept an eye on them. If your child got in trouble, the story would get to you through the Latino grapevine. I have heard many Hispanics tell me that they were devastated when they found out that their child was into drugs or involved in gang activities because they “had no idea.” Many blame the American society for their children’s problems and do not see themselves being at all responsible.

The problem is that it is not in the true Latino nature to place all of their life emphasis on financial success. In fact, when I ask Hispanics about the most important things in life, they are likely to mention God, family, and health. It is rare when a Latino says that money is the most important thing in life. What is ironic is that most Latinos seek financial success to be able to provide a better life for their children; and in doing so they end up placing their children in danger. At the end, most Latinos agree that success is not measured by material possessions; many prefer to measure success by the legacy they leave to their children. A legacy that is not necessarily a financial inheritance; but rather an appropriate upbringing based on respect, good morals, and proper values.

3 comments on “Latinos are too focused on material success

  1. Belinda Garcia on said:

    I would like to know why everywhere I have applied for a job, all I see is black and white. Are Latinos no longer being hired by Corporate? Ever since Obama came into office, there are less, and lesser Latin Americans seen in the corporate world. We are not all immigrants, a lot of us Latinos were born in the United States. There should be a law against not hiring Latinos. I know there is a labor law, but ever since the Mexican immigration issue arose, we are no longer being hired in the corporate world. Just look around you. No matter where you go it’s black and white. I have no issues with African Americans, it’s about time they get ahead, but don’t stop hiring Latin Americans, because of illegal immigrants crossing the border. Something needs to be done NOW, or otherwise the whole Latino American community will be out of a job. Please speak up Latinos. Enough is enough.

  2. Belinda I think you are absolutely right, I see the same trend lately after Obama took office or after the recession. I see less and less latinos working. I see mostly blacks and whites, plus asians working. I used to see a lot more latinos working. There are many place I used to frequent before the recession that had a lot of latinos working and now I don’t see that many and instead see blacks. I don’t have anything against any race and believe everyone deserves to work, but I don’t like that latinos are getting looked over. It should be equal for everyone. I think that the reason might be that since there are fewer jobs now, latinos unfortunately are going to be the ones that are going to be sacrificed. Perhaps many business owners think that latinos regardless of weather they are legal or illegal in this country have less rights and don’t deserve the same treatment as all the other races: there are so many stereotypes concerning latinos. And when I say latinos I mean people of spanish speaking countries, excluding Spain (which is European). I wonder if there is a conspiracy theory going on?

    Yes latinos we need to speak up. We get screwed because we don’t speak up. We deserve the same treatment as everyone else. Please let me know what you think.

  3. Mary Krauze on said:

    I’m a parenting educator and find your article interesting. I am not Latino but have worked with Latino families. I disagree with your comment that “pretension is always to uphold the male’s position of dominance.” In healthy families, there should be little “pretense” and neither male nor female should “dominate”. Very confusing and discounting for all involved, especially in terms of modeling for children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


HTML tags are not allowed.