Top 10 Things Latina Family Matriarchs Should Stop Doing

portrait of a Latina mother with her sons and daughter

When people think of Latina women, the “female alpha” often comes to mind. Everyone has at least one matriarch in the family and they’re the ones who run the show. If you cross them, you’re toast. For most people, that Latina matriarch figure is their grandmother, but it can also be your mother, an aunt, the eldest sister, etc., it all depends on everyone’s family dynamics. One thing’s for certain, though, there’s been a shift in what the Latina family matriarch is supposed to represent. With that, there are many outdated attitudes and habits that need to be ditched. Here are the top 10 things Latina family matriarchs should stop doing:


Having overly controlling behaviors

Portrait of a Latina mom

Photo by Ashwin Vaswani on Unsplash

One common trait among Latina matriarchs is a tendency to be overly controlling, especially of younger women in the family. While it may come from a place of love and concern, that kind of behavior often leads to repression and the imposition of traditional gender roles. Micromanaging every aspect of someone’s life, even if you think is for the best, will only lead to resentment. It will also hold that person you love back. Guidance and advice are welcome, controlling behaviors need to stay where they belong: in the past.

Guilt-tripping and emotional manipulation

Portrait of a Latina mom looking seriousPhoto by Jacqueline Munguía on Unsplash

It’s not uncommon for Latina matriarchs, especially those who come from an older generation, to rely on guilt-tripping and emotional manipulation to influence family members. Unsurprisingly, this kind of tactic creates toxic dynamics and it corrodes what family is supposed to be. Family is supposed to trust each other enough to have honest conversations and to respect each other’s decisions. Imposing one’s will through manipulation is simply not the right way to do things, and it never was.

Imposing unrealistic expectations onto others

distraught woman sitting by a lake

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Latina matriarchs often want family members to achieve their full potential. While that’s all fine and good, there’s such a thing as setting excessively high expectations. It’s a burden that can be unbearable for family members and create unnecessary stress for them. Matriarchs should encourage their loved ones to set realistic goals that align with what they want. They should also celebrate whatever progress they make with them instead of expecting perfection.

Neglecting their own self-care

senior woman holding a hands mirror showing her reflection

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The thing about Latina matriarchs is that everything they do is a reflection of how they were raised. In most cases, matriarchs were raised to prioritize everyone else above themselves. This is the legacy of marianismo and it’s one we should all strive to break away from. Matriarchs need to learn to prioritize themselves for a chance; not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. They don’t have to sacrifice themselves to support their families, they just need to stand beside them.

Suppressing individuality and independence

Latina mom and adult daughter with serious expressions

Photo by Tiger Lily on Pexels

Whether they’re consciously aware of it or not, Latina matriarchs often focus on perpetuating traditional gender roles. One of the ways they do that is by discouraging family members, especially women, from expressing their individuality and independence. Matriarchs often have a very clear idea (rooted in machismo and marianismo) of what men and women should look and act like, but they must get with the times. Traditional gender roles are no longer the norm and encouraging everyone to embrace their uniqueness is a more effective way of helping raise assertive, confident people.

Encouraging unhealthy competition among family members

Young upset woman

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Latina family matriarchs often create an atmosphere of competition among family members. In their position of authority, they know that their approval and praise is a strong motivator. However, favoritism only breeds unnecessary resentment and it sours relationships among family members. Is that really worth it? Instead of encouraging unhealthy competition, promoting cooperation, collaboration, and mutual support is much more helpful.

Avoiding difficult conversations

Latina mom and adult daughter with serious expressions

Photo by Tiger Lily on Pexels

One thing about Latina family matriarchs is that they can be masters at avoiding difficult conversations. Especially when they know they’re in the wrong, but they don’t want to admit defeat. “Because I say so” is not a valid argument and it never has been. It has lost its power, so Latina matriarchs need to learn how to cultivate open lines of communication. Working past the discomfort of honest conversations will always be worth the effort.

Bulldozing over everyone else’s boundaries

The gesture of a mother pointing her finger while she is scolding

Sometimes, it’s a struggle for Latina family matriarchs not to trample all over people’s boundaries. Again, it’s the issue of wanting to impose their will because they think they’re right or they think that’s what’s best for the other person, no matter what that person thinks or wants. As families, it’s important for everyone to not just set their own boundaries, but also respect everyone else’s. It’s the only way to create healthy relationships and matriarchs are not the exception.

Using shame or criticism as discipline

women from a Latino family looking serious and thoughtful

Photo by Tiger Lily on Pexels

Latina family matriarchs can be quite harsh sometimes because they have a rough idea of what discipline should be. Often, they turn to harsh criticism or shaming to get a message across, and that’s just not good for anyone. On the one hand, it can damage the self-esteem of the other person. On the other hand, it can corrupt the bond. Constructive feedback, positive reinforcement, and teaching valuable life lessons are much better methods and they can lead to better results.

Resisting change and innovation

Portrait of a Latino mother

Photo by Victor L on Pexels

When Latina family matriarchs are set in their ways, they’re very resistant to change and innovation. They refuse to consider new ideas and they struggle to adapt to the way things are today. Times have changed and they will continue to do so; refusing to learn from younger generations is a mistake. It doesn’t mean that traditional values don’t have a place in this new world, it just means that they have to evolve, and matriarchs should evolve with them.

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