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Are Latinos more family oriented?

In the U.S., Latinos have a reputation of having huge, close-knit families that stick together.  In the pilot episode of Rob Schneider’s failed sitcom “¡Rob!”, the main character Rob meets his wife’s Mexican American family for the first time.  He is immediately greeted by a loud horde of relatives, all visiting for a relative’s birthday.  During the episode, the stereotypical impression was created that Latin families get together all that time and are constantly in each other’s lives.

So are Latinos more family oriented?  Are we “closer” than other non-Latino families?  Personally, I think being close to your family is not an ethnic or cultural value, it’s more about the particular family’s dynamic and how functional or dysfunctional the family is; it’s about whether the family in question places high value on staying in contact and on supporting each other.  I’ve seen this first hand being the product of Salvadoran and Irish families and now as I interact my German husband’s family.  My Irish American family and my German husband’s family are just as tight-knit as my Salvadoran family.

My Salvadoran family is very close, in large part because of the way my mother and her siblings were raised.  My grandmother instilled in her children the value of taking care of family and of making time for family reunions.  We were raised to honor and make time for visits with cousins, aunts, and grandmother. My cousins and I would often go and spend a summer with our grandmother or an aunt/uncle and we’d have to be dragged away to come home.  My Salvadoran family’s Christmas Eve parties are one of the highlights of my year, because we value the chance for everyone to be together.  Like our parents, the cousins now organize crazy talent shows that inevitably end with wild dancing.

My Irish American family is very similar.  My father and his brothers were raised by parents who deeply valued family time.  Family dinners and vacations were a must.  When I was growing up, my grandparents and uncles would visit us at least once a year, even though we lived across the country.  My grandparents made special “dates” with each and every son and grandchild just to “check in” on them.  My dates with my grandmother, when we watched a musical and ate popcorn, are some of my favorite memories.

Now I am married and getting to know an entirely new culture and family.  I think part of the reason I fell in love with my German husband is because of how he treats and interacts with his own family.  He and his family members call each other several times a week and hold Skype dates where he “plays” with his two nieces on a regular basis.  This year his grandfather had a health scare and it was amazing to see how his large family came together and quickly made a plan to take care of him.

My life experiences have taught me that being more family-oriented isn’t necessarily a Latino thing – it’s more about specific values that the family members share (e.g. frequent communication, spending time with each other, prioritizing the needs of a member who is sick, etc.).  I am lucky that I was raised by two amazing families that valued each other and that I met a man with a similarly tight-knit family.  I know that when the time comes for us to build our own family, we will instill the same family values.


By Being Latino Contributor, Alexandra Aquino-Fike

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. Sylvia Rosales-Fike says:

    What a wonderful piece, Alexandra. So true. You find strong families in every culture and you have been blessed.

  2. Sylvia Rosales-Fike says:

    This is a wonderful piece, Alexandra. Beautifully written and it is so true. Strong, loving families are found in every culture, and you are blessed.

  3. Nena Derbedrossian says:

    Right on Alex! It is all about the dynamics in the family and the role models we have which instill in us the love of family.

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