Familia Values

As children, we rolled our eyes when our padres demanded we speak fluent español and attend our neighbors’ quinceñeras. But in the process of acclimating to an American lifestyle, we may leave too much behind. Here are nine nuggets of Latino wisdom we should never forget, and how to incorporate them into our complicated modern lives:

1. Familia comes first. In good times and in bad, no one is there like the family. But it’s not just obligation that should compel you to put the ones closest to you first. After all, what’s more relaxing: reality TV drama or story time with your children?

2. Pool your resources. Saving in groups has helped Latin-Americans around the world to start businesses and buy homes. Combine energy with like-minded professionals by starting a Latino affinity group in your field.

3. Dinner is sacred. At least once a month, make a whole meal from scratch for a small group of close friends. The memory will last longer than a night at the movies.

4. Don’t spend what you don’t make. Immigrants don’t use credit cards, but we have to sometimes. Make sure to keep a careful log to justify each charge.

5. Never complain. This may be unrealistic, but do we really have to whine so much? Try cutting all negative comments for one week.

6. Invest in people, not things. Our families helped out the neighbors; we barely know who lives on our block. Create a sense of community by joining a local parent group, cultural organization or food coop.

7. Romance is king. Our abuelitos never quit dancing or date nights.

8. A little fat never killed anyone. Even research backs Mami up on this one: the body needs monounsaturated fats -- so bring on the guacamole and pepitas. (Skip the chips.)

9. Don’t bring work home. If you can’t pull this off, budget at least 30 task- and media- free minutes a day. You’ll be more relaxed and effective in the morning.

by Michelle Herrera Mulligan