2000 Jordan Institute
4, No. 1
for Working with Hispanic Families
Following are suggestions to help you join with Hispanic families.
- Avoid assumptions. Hispanics fall into
many ethnic groups; many were born in the U.S., speak English, and lead
a very "modern" lifestyle. Take the time to find out about
each family's beliefs and values.
- Understand traditional gender roles.
Machismo can mean a nurturing, protective man as well as the
stereotypical "tough guy." Women, too, contribute substantially
to their families in traditional roles. Their connections with extended
family can be especially important. However, don't generalize about
- Recognize the importance of family.
Be willing to devote the time and energy necessary to meet as many members
of the family as you can. Be ready to help families maintain their traditional
family system, even in the face of great obstacles.
- Understand the importance of agregado.
Those related by marriage and very distant relatives are often significant
connections. Don't overlook this valuable family resource.
- Don't give offense. This seems obvious,
but understand that clients may take offense if they feel you have insulted
members of their famly, even slightly, even if you are trying to help.
Recognize the importance of respect, honor, and courtesy. Honor cultural
and family traditions.
- Learn Spanish. You may fear clients
may take offense if your Spanish is not very good, but this is unlikely.
Simply making an effort is a sign of respect. However, if you cannot
speak Spanish fluently, use a bilingual specialist. For tips on working
with a translator, see "Guidelines
for Working with an Interpreter".
- Don't take offense if a family is uncomfortable
with "Anglo" systems of care. There is pressure
on immigrants to adopt the practices of the dominant culture, but doing
so may cause a great sense of loss, and may be detrimental to their
ability to function. Rather than adding to this pressure, find out how
they have traditionally solved problems.
J. C. (1997). Population projections of the United States by age, sex,
race, and Hispanic origin: 1995-2050. U.S. Bureau of Census, Current
Population Reports, p 25-1130. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing
K. & Lantz, J. (1996). Cross-cultural practice: Social work with diverse
populations. Chicago: Lyceum Books.
Y. (1997). Machismo, fatherhood, and the Latino family: Understanding
the concept. Journal of Multicultural Social Work, 5(1/2), 49-61.
Carolina Geographic Date Clearinghouse [Online]. (1998). <http:cgia.cgia.state.nc.us:80/ncgdc>.
(Web address no longer functional.)
Sotomayor, M. (ed.) (1991). Empowering
Hispanic families: A critical issue for the 90s. Milwaukee: Family
M. (1998). Farm workers win early legal battle. The Prism, 9(7),
© 1999 Jordan
Institute for Families