Bilingual is Better
Latina moms research study

Photo by tabitum

In the past couple of weeks there have been two studies released related to Latina mamás which have been of particular interest to us here at SpanglishBaby for the insights they’ve revealed related to how ingrained our culture is in our daily lives regardless of our acculturation level.

Just this past Monday, BabyCenter released The Hispanic Moms Acculturation Study, which is part of their larger 21st Century Mom Insight Series. The study interviewed 2,479 Hispanic moms — from recent immigrants to native-born English speakers — and 1,472 non-Hispanic moms across both their English and Spanish language sites.

“With one in four babies in this country being Hispanic, and Hispanics representing 55% of the population growth in the United States, this study sheds new light on the behaviors of Latina moms as they go through the acculturation process and integrate elements of American culture with those of their own heritage.”

Here are the key findings:

The Culture of Food

  • Mealtime is an important ways for us, Hispanic moms, to connect our families to our cultura. 36% of Hispanic moms say dinner is the best time of the day, compared to only 15% of non-Hispanic. This is true in my own household, at least during the week, for dinner is the only time we can all sit together and share our day with each other.
  • Hispanic food — which most of us (not me!) cook from scratch — is part of the daily diet of 41% of us. The numbers change as we acculturate and look for shortcuts to make cooking easier, as in making black beans de lata and not from scratch (yes me!).

La Familia First

  • A huge number of us, 68% in fact, are likely to eat at least one meal a week with our extended family. In my own family we don’t do it every week, but we try to make it happen as often as possible, and my children love it. (I do too!)
  • We see all celebrations, including our niños’ birthday parties, as a chance to connect with our families. I found this finding particularly interesting, “Hispanics include extended family in these (children’s parties) celebrations regardless of age.” I had never stopped to think about that one, but it’s totally true. We invite los abuelos, los tíos, los padrinos and, as the study also points out, our parties also last much, much longer than the 2 1/2 hours alloted on the majority of birthday party invitations my daughter usually gets. Oh, and we spend more money on our parties than the general population…
  • When it comes to aspirations, la familia continues to be número 1, even though professional success is seen as inspiring. The study found that “me” time is not engaging for Hispanic moms.

Our Language Our Heritage

  • Those of us who are either native-born or bilingual, don’t consume much media in Spanish, yet we respond better to advertising in Spanish, according to the study. This is particularly true if the ads in Spanish feature “authentic cultural imagery.”
  • Furthermore, the study found that ads in Spanish or Spanglish apparently create a cultural connection which we, Hispanic moms, embrace because we see it as an acknowledgement of our heritage.
  • 50% of us would find a Spanish ad on an English website engaging or appealing. I know this is true of me too, as long as it’s translated correctly, of course. If not, it’s not only a total turn-off but it’s also disrespectful.

“While Hispanic moms are linguistically diverse, culture acts as a powerful force for uniting them.” — Isidra Mencos, editorial director of BabyCenter for the Americas and Spain.

We couldn’t agree more. In fact, SpanglishBaby was born two years ago because both Ana and I realized that, like us, the majority of Latina moms ( regardless of  level of acculturation) want to pass on our culture, heritage, language and traditions to our niños but we not always know how to. We like to think we’re putting nuestro granito de arena towards making that goal a reality.

BabyCenter has also added more content to its site’s section dedicated to Hispanic Families, which includes all of the articles I contributed related to raising bilingual children.

Along similar lines, two weeks ago,  Todobebé released the findings of polls they conducted on their site throughout 2010.  This study sheds an interesting light on the preferences Latina moms and moms-to-be have regarding childbirth and child-rearing during the critical infant stage. Another interesting insight into how our culture shapes our beliefs.

Here’s a summary of the key findings:

  • If they were able to pick, 77% of Todobebé users would choose a vaginal birth. Only 18% would choose a C-section.
  • Latinas prefer to be young moms. 62% stated the ideal age to become a mom is before 30, while 19% said there is no “ideal age”. Ana actually wrote about this last week on Blogs de Mamás because, like me, she doesn’t belong to the majority of this group.
  • Only 9% believes vaccines cause autism. The majority, 56%, said they don’t. However, 34% did not know what to believe.
  • 64% took folic acid before pregnancy.
  • 48% of respondents always allow their children to sleep in their beds, 26% only in case of nightmares or illness and 24% said they don’t allow it ever.
  • 51% stated the best age to wean baby from the bottle is 1 year of age, 34% after 2 years and 14%, after 3 years.
  • 67% of respondents said their baby’s father was or planned to be in the delivery room during childbirth. Only 23% said the father would not be present.

What are your thoughts on the insights revealed by these studies? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you see yourself reflected in these findings?

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