Dare to Ask: Marriage is big deal for Hispanics
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
Why do Hispanic women have to be married before they are in their 30s?
K.C., Indianola, Miss.
In the eyes of many in the Hispanic culture, a woman without a man has less
Monica, 27, Hispanic, San Antonio
The men get this, too, but being a culture dominated by men, sowing wild oats
is seen as more permissible for us.
Carlos, Hispanic, Chicago
A Latina at age 15 will have a Quinceanera - a gigantic birthday party. This
is for the parents to advertise her as available for marriage. Being blond,
blue-eyed, bilingual and with my parents having a new Corvette sends infinite
messages to a Hispanic couple with a young lady they're eager to get out from
under their roof. On countless occasions, I have been approached by Latina
mothers asking me if I am looking for a wife.
Kyle M., 15, white, Texas
Marrying a young Hispanic woman is considered ideal. Hispanic men do not want
a woman with a lot of history.
George, 42, Hispanic, Colorado
Latinos are very family-oriented. Plus, Latin Americans don't necessarily
have the privilege of putting off marriage, parenthood and other social customs
until a later age to "find themselves."
Deborah, 46, Hispanic, Denver
"I'm surprised they gave a late date like 30. Really, if they're not married
by 25, it's like what's the deal here?" said Kim Lloyd, a Washington State
University sociology professor and expert on the Hispanic family.
Early marriage and child-birth are common among Hispanic cultures. A 2002
Centers for Disease Control report found that 13 percent of U.S. Hispanic women
were married by age 18, compared to 8 percent of white women and 5 percent of
black women. And Hispanic girls ages 10 to 14 had birth rates of 1.4 per 1,000
in 2002 - twice the rate of the overall age group, yet still a drop from 2.4 per
1,000 in 1990.
Many surveys show that Hispanic women list being married and having a family
as the most important things in their lives, Lloyd said, while white or
African-American women are more likely to put personal happiness or job
"It's a bigger focus on family and traditional views of gender roles. Men
bring home the bacon, the woman has greater say in raising the children."
Catholicism, the dominant faith among many Hispanics, plays a large role,
emphasizing marriage and family, she said.
One new finding by Lloyd: First-generation Hispanics are more likely to
aspire to marriage than second-generation, who are assimilating to Anglo views -
but the third generation is behaving more like the first, getting married
"Even in my classes, the Latinas say they get a lot of pressure from their
parents like 'Why are you wasting time in college?' They fight it, but a lot of
them drop out."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers, or mail to
Phillip Milano, c/o The Florida Times-Union, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL
32231. Include contact information. For Dare to Ask podcasts, go to
Jacksonville.com keyword: milano.