By Julio Morales
First, unforeseen circumstances prompted Claudia Casares to voluntarily leave her full-time job in December. Then, just this week, her car was stolen from in front of her El Centro apartment.
Yet, she does find some relief knowing that her family is there to support her during this rough patch. Nor does she doubt she would do the same had they come to her for assistance.
“We’ve always been together,” Casares said as she spent the morning at Bucklin Park with her son, sister and cousin, “all of us.”
Indeed, her immediate and extended family has made it a point to spend a lot of time together. While special occasions such as holidays, weddings, births and birthdays often serve as the perfect reason to get together, Casares’ extended family gathers quite regularly, “just to get together,” said her sister, Yadira Flores.
Such close family relationships are prevalent within the Latino community, researchers have noted. Latino culture is characterized as a collectivist culture, where positive social interaction among family is prioritized and highly valued.
These days the Flores family’s El Centro household hosts the gatherings that her grandparents initiated.
“That’s probably why we do them,” Flores said, “to keep up the family tradition.”
Family members from around the Valley and Mexicali will gather to spend the greater part of a day together.
“We’re Mexican, so it’s 20-plus,” Flores said, referring to the number of guests she often accommodates on a monthly basis.
And when it comes to cleaning up after such a considerable crowd, “everybody helps out,” she said.
While cultures the world over value the significance of the family, the manner in which it is expressed varies, said Belinda Campos, assistant professor of Chicano/Latino studies at the University of California, Irvine.
For Latinos, it can also vary. Depending on how an individual perceives their familial obligations, this may include moving away to establish a career that would bring prestige to the family, or staying close by so as not to sever ties.
The socialization process that underlies such behavior and values likely begins during childhood, Campos said.
For Gladys Pimentel, there is no doubt where her family loyalty stems from.
“It’s how our parents brought us up,” she said.
The day when her parents may have to rely on her for support is inevitable, yet hardly cause for alarm, she said.
Contributing to the financial well-being of parents and extended family is also common within Latino households, said Campos.
While financially assisting family members is certainly not exclusive to Latinos, one study suggests Latinos may receive more satisfaction from providing such help.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan the regions of the brain associated with reward activity, researchers tasked a relatively small sample size of subjects with exercises in which they could earn money for themselves and contribute money to their families.
Latinos showed more reward activity when contributing to the family, while non-Latino subjects showed more reward activity when gaining cash for themselves.
The researchers suggested that if driven solely by feelings of obligation, Latinos’ “neural evidence of reward processing” would not have been as evident.
Despite the fact that providing family assistance may force one to sacrifice time, money, educational or career goals, the report’s authors stated such “high levels” of family assistance may be driven in part by the “rewarding nature of the activity.”
Source: Imperial Valley Press