UPDATED June 17th, 2017

In my native Puerto Rico, the methods of discipline were very straightforward: You did what you were told or you were punished. Not obeying guaranteed un chancletazo (a spanking with a flip flop). Offering to hit with other implements such as belts, twigs and tree branches was not out of the question and oftentimes, parents delivered on their threats! The rules were strict and unbending and there was no margin for negotiation.


The culture of parenting in the U.S. seems very alien to me. I hear parents saying please and thank you to their kids, asking their kids their opinions and giving them choices on what to eat or what to wear. When kids stray from their parents’ instructions, they’re given time-outs and lengthy explanations as to why their actions were wrong. Unbelievable! In my household in Puerto Rico, I was given the food mami had cooked; I was told what I must do and I was not given permission to voice my opinion (I did anyway, and got in a lot of trouble for having a “big mouth”). When I did not act according to the rules, I was punished, period!

4 replies
  1. Ibi
    Ibi says:

    It is unfortunate that articles like this contribute to perpetuating negative Latino stereotypes. Authoritative parenting styles are not endemic or exclusive of the Latin culture. Being a parent does not preclude us from modeling good manners. It would be wise to stop generalizing negative Latino stereotypes just because in some Latino families healthy social-emotional skills were not fostered. Likewise, positive parenting practices are not exclusive practices of parents in US. There are effective and noneffective parenting practices everywhere regardless of your cultural background and place of origin. Actually, statistics show that in the US, Anglo children are more likely to being abused by their Anglo parents than children from other ethnic backgrounds.

    • Melissa
      Melissa says:

      I agree with this article. When sitting around with friends of similar culture, they have the same stories of the chancleta and other discipline practices. Even though this is not for all families, it is for most and I disagree with the previous commenter. It may be a little negative but it is what it is. We need to face it and realize that many were raised this way. Whether you were or not doesn’t erase how the majority of puerto ricans being raised. You must remember that when you are dealing with people it is never 100% of the statistic but the general idea is many of us have been hit with the chancla. lol

  2. Becca Montgomery
    Becca Montgomery says:

    I think you’ve created an excellent compromise. I grew up with a Boricua mother who strongly believed in physical punishment. I was never explained why some actions were wrong, I was just punished for them. Giving opinions wasn’t allowed either. That would be stepping out of your “place” and you would quickly be put back in it with the force of her hand, a foreign object, or a tongue lashing (and it didn’t matter if you were out in public).
    Not to mention, Boricua mothers know how to cut you down to size with their words!

    I can see how some people may believe this is the best method for disciplining your children but I strongly disagree. I never developed a close bond with my mom. After being hit and name called for so long I eventually learned that it wasn’t safe to open up to her and that it was best to stay out of her way. How ironic that my mom never developed a close relationship with her mother for the same reasons. My mother isn’t a bad person. She loved cooking and feeding people. She welcomed everyone into our home. She would give anyone her last dime or the shirt off her back. She just disciplined us the only way she knew how.

    I think the balance that you have created in your disciplinary style is a good one, not just for Hispanic/ Latino mothers, but for parents of every ethnicity. Thanks for sharing.


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