GUEST BLOG: By Margarita Maria Ramirez, “My Family Roles: Traditional South American vs. Modern”

Three years ago, I went from just being a daughter to being both a wife and a daughter. A few months ago, I went from just being a wife and a daughter to being also a mom. It has surprised me how much these “status” changes got my mind turning on their meaning and what do they entail. That is why, when Bruce invited me to do a guest post for his blog, this was almost the first thing that came to our minds. It is not my intention to make this post too personal, but rather to voice some thoughts I have had lately and some insights from conversations we have had here at home, as well as to hear what has been your take on this matter.



One thing that has shocked me the most is to recognize the potential for tension between these three roles I now have. Depending on how you view them, they can even be like oil and water. At one point you were only a daughter, and you had some dynamics with your parents. In a matter of seconds, a new person has—or will have—those same dynamics with you. In a matter of seconds, I felt that the role of a daughter that I had was wrong. I felt that I had to re-invent those dynamics that I had with my parents. But to what? For what? It was even more shocking to realize that I was thinking about that. No one told me you get that, but rather I believed it was a process that moves with the same flow of a river. I also had this same feeling, of the need to re-invent myself, the night before Bruce and I got married. Yet, with Magnolia’s birth the feeling returned and stronger. I think the change is good, I believe it is healthy to reconsider points of view and make the changes; yet, changes are hard.

See, I am from South America, where families have a more traditional structure. In addition, I believe I was raised in a very traditional house. The dad is the breadwinner, while the mom stays at home to take care of the kids and the house. The kids are very respectful (and do not speak much their mind) to their parents, and parents have a strong influence on them throughout their life.



The traditional structure worked well for my family, but being outside the house I realize that these traditional roles can clash with non-traditional approaches. For example, encouraging family members to have intertwined roles and duties in the family, and to be more independent and non-conformist, is the opposite of having clear and separate roles and duties. To connect this with the beginning, the role of daughter, wife and mom under a traditional family, for me have sometimes clashed with the role of a daughter, wife and mother in a more modern structure. I have found them incompatible, and I have personally found it hard to get to the middle sweet spot, where I get the best from both worlds. I really enjoy feeling that I take care of Bruce and Magno, of the food, and of the details from the house. I also enjoy doing things with Bruce, as opposed to alongside him, and talking to him as my friend about my feelings and fears.

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