Mexican Americans form about 12.5% of the population in the United States. They are of Mexican descent and most of them trace their origin to the ancient colonial settlers. The Mexican Americans are descendants of Mexicans and Spaniards. The group is multiracial. The Mexican Americans are mostly concentrated in Southwest of the United States. Today many Mexican Americans are illegal immigrants as they come to look for employment.
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Mexican Americans migrated to the United States during the early colonial days. Most of the Mexican Americans lived in areas in the USA that once belonged to Mexico that is areas such as California, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and others and in the regions that they got employment as well as in steel producing areas in the United States. The identity of this group has changed rapidly throughout history as it fought for equal treatment in the USA.
Today the group struggles to the definition and maintenance of their identity. The Mexican Americans form the largest part of employees in labor market. The rising numbers of illegal immigrants provide cheap labor to their white employers and most work as janitors, gardeners and other blue-collar jobs. In matters of education, due to their immigrant status most families had to choose between sending their children to or save the meager income for other needs (Englekirk and Marin 1).
The Mexican Americans have strong family values and have strong family relationships. The bond goes beyond the nuclear family due to familism-family obligation and care. Mexican Americans has strong cultural practices that are passed on to children and this responsibility is mainly left to the women.
Through socialization, the children are able to grow up and become integral members of the family. The parents often demand that the children comply with authority and those who fail are often punished physically. Through strict parenting, the children are given verbal commands and often-harsh threats when it comes to discipline.
Through this strategy, parents want to teach their children the value of family or familismo and respect especially for the adults-respecto. This involves parental behavior that the children are supposed to copy to learn how to behave in the family or with the family norms. Next, let us focus on gender socialization among the Mexican Americans (Livas-Dlott, Alejandra et al 567-9).
Gender socialization among the Mexican Americans is tailored along traditional roles. Just like in most societies in the world in which gender roles are determined by one’s sex so is the Mexican American gender socialization. It is also interesting to note that in spite of changes about gender roles in the country most Mexican Americans retain their traditional view about gender expectations (Raffaelli and Ontai 288).
Traditionally the female gender roles are being submissive, dependent and chaste. On the other hand, male gender roles are independent, virile and dominant. The different ideals of gender roles thus have an impact on how boys and girls are socialized to fit in their expected gender roles.
For example, the girls were expected to maintain their virginity and thus had to be careful during dating while the boys did not have to observe any rules during dating. This means that girls are restricted from interacting with romantic partners in case they lose their virginity. Girls are also restricted in their movements and cannot go wherever they wish as their brothers can as their parents tend to be very protective with them (Raffaelli and Ontai 287-288; Englekirk and Marin 1).
The Mexican Americans parents have different child rearing habits from their African Americans and Anglo Americans. “The Mexican Americans place greater emphasis on the development of proper demeanor and a sense of dignity than on early achievement or attainment of developmental milestones” (Kolobe 440). The Mexican American families are nurturing, indulgent and egalitarian. This leads to different outcomes of their children’s behavior and that of children from other cultural backgrounds in the United States.
It is also important to note that the among the Mexican Americans there are different child rearing practices depending on the origin of parents for example parents who are USA born and speak English tend to allow their daughters to play like boys and are less protective. On the contrary, parents who emphasized on traditional femininity roles have lower levels of education.
In addition, fathers who encourage their sons to get involved with roles traditionally set out for girls and restrict their sons movement have higher education levels(Raffaelli and Ontai 294-295).
Mexican Americans even in the 21st century are still considered as foreigners by the other members of the society (Englekirk and Marin 1). Many of them have complained about discrimination and especially about police profiling. The Mexican American youths face problems concerning identity as they try to maintain their cultural identity as socialized and being acculturated into the Anglo American culture fully due to the benefits that come with it such as speaking English.
The youths also face the challenge of a segregated educational, system and the schools they attend lack all the necessary facilities and many students drop up thus reducing their employability (Chavkin195). It is important for the problems that Mexican Americans face to be addressed well to reduce the feelings of anti-Americanism by the Mexican Americans, as America is their country too.
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Chavkin, Nancy Feyl. “Joining forces: Education for a changing population.” Educational Horizons 68.4 (1990): 190-196
Englekirk and Marin. Mexican Americans. 2010. 12 May 2010. https://www.everyculture.com/multi/Le-Pa/Mexican-Americans.html
Kolobe, Thubi. “Childrearing Practices and Developmental Expectations for Mexican-American Mothers and the Developmental Status of Their Infants.” Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association 84. 5 (2004): 439-453.
Livas-Dlott, Alejandra, Bruce Fuller, Gabriel Stein, Margaret Bridges, Araina Figuoera and Laurie Mireles. Commands, Competence, and Carion: Maternal Socialization
Practices in Mexican American families. Developmental Psychology 46. 3(2010):566-578
Raffaelli, Marcela and Ontai, Lenna. “Gender Socialization in Latino/a families from two retrospective studies.”Sex Roles: A journal of Research 50.5 (2004): 287-299.