How to Make Your Child's Friends Feel at Home

How to Make Your Child's Friends Feel at Home

Help your child's friends who don’t understand Spanish or eat our food feel comfortable.


Author: Alicia C.

I still remember as if it were yesterday, the displeased face my older son made when I started to speak to him in Spanish in front of his non-Spanish speaking, non-Latino friend. I was just sticking to the rule of en la casa no se habla inglés – no English in the house – but before this moment we hadn't had a non-Spanish-speaking guest, and I hadn't realized how rude I was being.

How embarrassing!

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That same night, my husband and I began to discuss the topic. He came to this country as an adolescent and understands a bit better the way non-Latino families work here. With his help, I decided to be a little more flexible regarding the implementation of rules that maintain our cultura Latina at home. Here I'll share some of the changes we made. Hopefully they help you too!

1. If there is even just one person who doesn't understand Spanish, we'll all speak English. This isn't easy when the majority of the people gathered are Latinos, but to do otherwise would be rude. We all know the desperation one feels when not understanding something that is said. Of course, this doesn't mean that once in awhile a little something in Spanish won't escape our mouths, or that our children's friends won't end up picking up a few of our sayings. On my younger son's soccer team, there is only one family that doesn't speak Spanish, but they've been learning it with time. It's hilarious to hear them yell, ¡Corre! ¡Corre!

2. Don't comment about the manners of your child's friends. It makes my hair stand on end when children – never Latino children – open the refrigerator in my kitchen without permission, or lick their fingers at the table, (it's happened more than once). Nevertheless, I bite my tongue and say nothing. My children, knowing how I am, are the ones who let their friends know that the customs are different at our house, but I don't say anything myself.

3. I have an alternative food to serve they know and like. I suspect one of the reasons my children invite little neighbors to come eat so often is because when they do, the day's menu will certainly include foods like mac and cheese which kids love so much. Although, we've had some luck with getting their friends to try arepas, tacos and other delicious comida Latina. So serve whatever you wish from our Latin American cuisine as you always do, but when you have little visitors it's good to also be able to offer a food they know and like.


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