Tips for Juggling Latinas’ Redefined Roles

The lives of Latinas have evolved rapidly during the last couple of generations in this country; Hispanic women are entering the US workforce at a dizzying pace currently making up 4.7% of the entire American labor force, a 100% increase from a decade ago. Gone are the (fairly recent) days of staying at home, having dinner ready for a husband and cleaning up after him and kids. Right? Not so fast.

Culture taught them to be perfect housewives and doting mothers; economics forced them out of the house and into the workforce, and media expects them to balance home and work while becoming rockstars in bed. You know…like Sofia Vergara and Jennifer Lopez bringing that "latin spice" at all times? The result is a constant feeling of inadequacy, restlessness and frustration.

Struggling Mom/iStockphotoStruggling Mom/iStockphotoAre women to blame?

If you grew up Hispanic a few years ago, you saw very clearly defined gender roles- women were lady-like, cleaned the home and had hot dinners ready for when their husbands came home. The men were in charge of bringing home the bacon, doing handiwork around the house and teaching their sons to play baseball. And yet, as things have changed (including Latin men themselves) and Latinas follow in their Anglo sisters' footsteps, they struggle with inherited responsibilities of the past and new demands of today.

"Latinas have placed on themselves the unrealistic expectation that they are to be perfect at everything: home, children, work, sex", says Spanish psychologist and relationship expert Silvia Olmedo. "It's a 'photoshopped' reality they have bought into. They don't seem to understand that there's no way they can be 100% in every aspect of their lives," says Dr. Olmedo.

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According to Dr. Olmedo, women torn by having to juggle so many roles struggle with the following symptoms:

  • As a mother: Feeling that she's not a good mom, that she's lacking and that she's always going to disappoint her children. She ends up overcompensating by continually buying material things for her children.
  • As a wife and lover: There's no sex life. She accepts to do things she doesn't enjoy doing because she doesn't want her spouse or partner to leave her.
  • As a professional: She takes on extra responsibilities and works extra hours because she doesn't want her boss to think that being a wife and mother can hamper her career. The result: she gets taken advantage of at work.

Putting the pieces back together

There are a number of things latinas compartidas can do to start improving their lives:

  • Change the level of your expectations: Perfection does not exist and the search for it damages relationships. Who in your life should take the highest priority? Spend your time and effort in developing those relationships first, and let the rest be.
  • Delegate your activities: Let go of your "Queen of the House" title and enlist your family to work with you as a team. They like to come home to mama's cooking? Have your kids break up the lettuce for the salad or set the table.
  • Don't compare yourself to your own mother or other "super mothers": You shouldn't aspire to be a supermom. Doing so can be a recipe for disaster in your life and the life of your family. Your house is dirtier than or not as organized as your own mother's? Let it be or recruit your family to come together and help.

Dr. Silvia Olmedo is a Mexico-based psychologist, relationship expert and the best-selling author of "Los misterios del amor y el sexo". She is also the host of Televisa's "Cuéntamelo" and appears regularly in the morning show "Hoy". You can visit her at You can also follow her in Twitter or Facebook.

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