Dating/Drama/Family and Friends/My Relationships/Parents/Teen Relationships Mami and Papi Know Best by Rhady Taveras Dating is tough. Dating in your teens is really tough. Dating in your teens and trying to explain that to your Hispanic parents is really, really, really, tough. Across most Hispanic/Latino backgrounds, parents tend to establish a strong presence in their child’s dating life. Whether it’s inserting their opinion or establishing ground rules, the dramatics that take place in the “courtroom” of a Hispanic/Latino household are no joke. The battle may seem like it’s never going to end, but I’m here to say that there’s truth in the opposing view. I know it seems like I’m switching sides but hear me out — being open to the wisdom of your parents is not the worst thing for your relationship. I’m not saying we can’t trust ourselves, but settling for a joint venture can benefit you in more ways than you can imagine. I once dated a boy who represented everything my parents didn’t want for me. Getting involved with him disrupted the peace in our courtroom. It seemed like all our trials revolved around him, ending in heated arguments about my life choices and what was best for me. I knew he wasn’t the best influence, but I had my reasons for giving him a chance and my parents couldn’t seem to understand that. Jesus dined with the sinners and tax collectors, so why couldn’t I? If by now you’re reading this and violently nodding your head in agreement, then please continue — here are some of the major arguments parents make against dating and the reasons behind them: No puedes salir hasta que hayas terminado con la escuela. You can’t date until after you’re done with high school/college. Why it frustrates us: We tend to go after things we know we are ready to have, so it can be pretty frustrating when our parents tell us to hold off on something we want. We think, “There they go again, babying me and thinking that I am incapable of making my own decisions!” We deserve more respect than that, especially considering how much we’ve matured, right? Why they say it: It’s not because they don’t trust us, it’s because they don’t want us to lose focus of our goals that we’ve been working toward. Our parents work hard to provide for our well-being, which includes our education. Being distracted by a relationship when we should be focusing on maturing intellectually may affect how successful we’ll be in the future. There will be many opportunities to date throughout our lives, but this is our moment to shine as a student. It’s probably a good idea to take a step back and evaluate what impact this relationship may have. Queremos conocer a esta persona que te interesa. We want to meet this person you’re interested in. Why it frustrates us: Nerve-racking interrogations and family members challenging our decisions can create tension in both our household and our new relationship, so why wouldn’t we be hesitant about introducing someone new to the family? When you like someone, it is intimidating and uncomfortable to introduce them to the family and risk that they’ll be criticized. Why don’t our parents understand that? Why they say it: Trust me, they do understand as they’ve done it before with their own families. They also care about our emotional and physical safety, which is why they want to make sure we’re surrounding ourselves with good people. Plus, they want to see how well he fits into our family. Ultimately, a good relationship consists of two people who can have positive interactions with those closest to us. ¿Quien es su familia? Who is their family? Why it frustrates us: OK, seriously? Why does it matter where he comes from, who his family is, and how he was raised? It’s clear that our parents don’t trust our judgement. If we like someone though, we don’t simply stop seeing them because of their family issues or background. We’re just looking forward to sharing our lives and experiences with the person we like — as an individual, exactly how they are now. Why they say it: Actually, our partner’s background helps us know why they are who they are today and how they will be moving forward. Our parents care about our future, especially since we’ll probably have a family of our own one day. They know that whoever we end up settling down with is the person we’ll share our burdens and blessings with. Traditionally, Hispanic/Latino cultures emphasize the importance of a united family, so allowing our families to merge early on helps gauge how things would be in the long-term. ¿Cual es su religión/fe? What is his religion/faith? Why it frustrates us: It’s easy for us to push religion to the back burner when everything else in the relationship is going so well. We’ve witnessed our parents have differences and get through them, so why should religion be any different? Shouldn’t love surpass all differences? Why they say it: Let’s get real: There are some differences that truly take a toll on a relationship. Our religion is the basis of our moral compass, so having a completely different foundation from that of our partner may cause conflict. Our parents know this can create serious turmoil. As Catholics wanting to live as authentic disciples of Jesus Christ, we should definitely consider how our romantic relationship will either support or hinder that. Often times we’re going to have different views than our parents and that’s perfectly normal. But having these conversations about our dating life is necessary and honoring our parents means we take the time to truly hear them out. If you still question if mami and papi really know best, take a look at Proverbs 4. It beautifully proclaims why we should take advantage of our parents’ wisdom and helps us understand that they once were in our shoes — yes even our parents have been stubborn and ignorant to the knowledge Christ wants to show us. I’ve come to realize that the relationships that caused the most turmoil between my parents and I were the ones that damaged my heart the most. It was only when I let my parents into this part of my life that things actually began to change. Most of our parents just want us to be in healthy relationships — where we can explore the world, engage in deep thought, and share the virtue of discipleship. Don’t you want that, too?