Questions From You

Parenting questions submitted by our community members and answered by a YOU Program facilitator.
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Old Wives’ Tales in Parenting

October 9, 2014

By Ana Vela

Old Wives' Tales in Parenting | Baby Mariana has a red thread on her forehead to stop the hiccups.

I recently had my first baby, and I must admit I didn’t know what I was getting into. Fortunately, my mother flew in from out of state to help me care for my baby for the first three months. I was so desperate and grateful for her help that I pretty much believed and followed anything she said. I mean, she had three kids of her own and has helped raise my two nieces. Why wouldn’t I?

I started sharing some of my mom’s guidance with friends. They questioned, and even laughed, at some of the things I shared with them. That’s when I started to realize that they might just be parenting old wives’ tales. Perhaps my vulnerability as a new parent caused me to believe anything she said at the time.

Out of curiosity, I posted some of these on my Facebook page and asked people if they believed in any of them. I was amazed with the feedback I received. Many people grew up with these same stories and believe in them. Of course, there were many who were skeptical, regardless of the fact that their own family members follow them. There were even people correcting each other in how the tales go.

These are a couple of parenting old wives’ tales that I have encountered since becoming a parent. I’ve since learned that these are prominent in the Latino culture.

Ojo or Evil Eye
My mother was very serious when she sat me down and talked me through how to cure “ojo,” because my baby was sure to experience it one day soon. Ojo is sort of like the evil eye. The story varies, but generally it occurs when someone really admires and/or is envious of your baby. If they don’t touch your baby then the baby will develop a fever and will cry uncontrollably when you get home. It could last for days if you do not perform the cure, which involves rubbing an egg on your baby, reciting prayers, and cracking the egg open to release the ojo.

My mom even said I constantly contracted ojo as a baby (apparently I was quite adorable), and at some point she would avoid taking me out in public to not deal with it anymore. I later learned that there is a special bracelet you can have your baby wear that will block them from ever getting ojo. Sounds crazy, I know. And yet, I grew up with family and friends swearing that their babies had ojo and that the cure worked.

Curing Hiccups
This one came from my husband. Our baby had hiccups that wouldn’t go away. He asked me in a serious manner if I had tried using red thread to cure her hiccups. I had no idea what he was talking about. My mom overheard jumped in, agreeing that red thread cures hiccups. She couldn’t believe she had forgotten about it. My husband found red thread in our drawer, cut a piece, placed it in his mouth to wet it with his saliva, then stuck it onto our daughter Mariana’s forehead. And then we waited. After what seemed to me like a very long time, the hiccups went away. My husband proudly claimed that the red thread cured the hiccups. Sounds crazy, I know. And yet, several of my friends swear it works, too.

And there were more! Do not have the baby roll her eyes back at me or she will become cross-eyed. Do not eat eggs, beans, or pork while breastfeeding for the first month or else my baby will get sick and become colicky. Don’t let the baby see my dogs poop or pee because she will get red eyes.

For the most part, these old wives’ tales are harmless. They were likely pure coincidences that were then declared factual, and were passed down from generation to generation. As crazy as some of these old wives’ tales sound, when you are a parent, following these tales can make you feel like you are helping and protecting your child. As long as we are not risking harm, whatever makes us feel at ease is worth following. So although I don’t believe in these tales, you won’t find me ignoring an opportunity to help my baby by using any of these!

What old wives’ tales have your heard from your family and friends? Tell me in the comments below or start a thread in the forum. 



National Hispanic Heritage Month

October 1, 2014

By Jessica Vician

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2014

Since 1988, the United States has celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. Most of the time when we honor a specific heritage throughout a month-long period, it takes place within one month, but not National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Why does this celebration occur during the last half of September and the first half of October? The answer lies in what we are honoring in that 30-day period.

Back in May, we introduced you to diez y seis de septiembre (also known as Mexican Independence Day). As the name implies, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16. But National Hispanic Heritage Month doesn’t only honor Mexican-Americans. We also celebrate the histories and cultures of Americans with ancestral backgrounds from Spain, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Many of the countries in those areas celebrate significant days that fall between the 15th of September and the 15th of October. For example, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica all celebrate their independence days on September 15. Chile celebrates on September 18.

On October 12, many of these Spanish-speaking countries celebrate día de la raza (Day of the Race), which is referred to as Columbus Day in English and the U.S. On this day, we remember what happened after Christopher Columbus landed in the now-Bahamas. Notably, the multi-cultural society we live in today is the result of the blending of European and indigenous cultures throughout North, Central, and South America.

These are just four dates in Hispanic history, but due to the importance of each of them and the celebrations we hold around them, the United States observes National Hispanic Heritage Month in this unique manner as the 30 days between September 15 and October 15.

At YOU Parent, we encourage you to share these stories of independence and celebration with your children. How have you honored National Hispanic Heritage Month? Tell us in the comments below.

Tags :  holidaycultureacademicsocialteachers

Teach Your Child Basic Spanish

July 2, 2014

By Judy Razo

Hola- Hello, Por Favor- Please, Bienvenido- Welcome, Gracias- Thank you

Interested in teaching your child some basic Spanish? Incorporate a few handy words into your daily vocabulary when you speak with your child. Don’t worry about using them in complete sentences; simply replace the English word for the matching Spanish word in your phrases.

Being familiar with basic words from another language can inspire an interest for other languages. Aside from opening up career options for your child, studies show that bilingual brains have advanced cognitive development, which means it will help your child learn more and become smarter.

So go ahead! Try a few words and have fun teaching your child Spanish.

Family – Familia

  • Mom – Mamá
  • Dad – Papá
  • Grandma – Abuela
  • Grandpa – Abuelo
  • Brother - Hermano
  • Sister - Hermana
  • Cousin – Primo/Prima
  • Friend – Amigo/Amiga

Pets - Mascotas

  • Dog - perro
  • Cat - gato
  • Rabbit - conejo
  • Bird – pájaro

Greetings – saludos

  • Hello - hola
  • Goodbye - adiós
  • I love you – te amo

Numbers – números

  • One – uno
  • Two – dos
  • Three – tres
  • Four – cuatro
  • Five – cinco
  • Six – seis
  • Seven – siete
  • Eight – ocho
  • Nine – nueve
  • Ten – diez

Money – dinero

  • Bill – billete
  • Coin – moneda
  • Dollar – dólar

Ramadan: Lessons and Traditions

June 23, 2014

By Munzoor Shaikh

Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan is a very special Muslim holiday, which we observe by fasting from dawn until sunset for a month. This year, the holiday begins on June 28 and ends on July 28. Even if you don’t observe Ramadan, there are lessons and traditions that your family can learn and practice throughout the year.

The Purpose
During Ramadan, Muslims fast to improve self-restraint and increase awareness. For example, many of us have snacks, coffee, or even full meals without being hungry or thirsty. During the fast, we see why we feel the urge to eat or drink beyond our physical needs so we can transition to a higher level of emotional and spiritual awareness.

In the middle of a fasting day when we feel hungry, we turn to that moment of awareness and remember our blessings. Often taking that moment’s pause can instantly resolve the hunger and nourish us from a spiritual perspective. It also helps us feel connected to other people around the world who are hungry or thirsty simply because they do not have access to food and water.

Fasting Rules
The formal rules of fasting are simple. Muslims cannot eat, drink, or inject anything into their bodies (like eye drops, etc.) from dawn until sunset for the duration of the month. At sunset, Muslims usually break fast with some water and dates. At night, from sunset until the next dawn, Muslims can resume all non-fasting activities as usual. Exceptions are made for those who are ill, pregnant, or prohibited by their doctor for any reason, as Islamic belief asserts that our bodies have a right over us and we must give our bodies that due right when necessary.

Celebrate and Respect
It might not seem like it, but most Muslim families find Ramadan to be a time of celebration and fun! How can the process of not eating and drinking be fun? During Ramadan, families and friends make a concerted effort to spend time together. Since there is no food to distract us, we have true quality time together, sharing our thoughts and emotions and forming a deeper connection. Families also break the fast with dinner or have pre-dawn meals together at 3:00 am! Additionally, there are nightly prayers that families and friends like to observe together. Muslim families share most meals together during this month.

You and your children can respect fasting Muslims by asking them about their experience as they fast. Some find it respectful not to eat or drink in front of fasting Muslims, but this is not a hard and fast rule.

Feel free to join the celebration! Break the fast with a Muslim friend at sunset one day or join them in fasting for a day or two. You could even fast for an afternoon to sample the experience.

The most important things for all people to learn, regardless of religion, are to celebrate life together, become more aware of our actions surrounding food and drink, and connect more deeply with others.

Tags :  culturesocialphysicalholidayteachers

My Story: Being an Au Pair

June 2, 2014

By Lorena Villa Parkman

Two women push kids in strollers and talk in the park.

Photo credit: Tumar/

I was 21 years old when I decided I needed an adventure. I was mid-way through my bachelor’s degree and graduation seemed closer and closer each day. I was confident I would have a job before finishing college, but I worried that with the responsibilities that come with having a full-time job it would be a while before I could have a long-term adventure in another country. I didn’t want to enroll in an exchange program since I knew my parents didn’t have enough money to support me in a foreign country, so I started looking for jobs. That’s when I learned about au pairs.

An au pair is a young woman (or man) between the ages of 18 and 26, with limited childcare experience who is willing to stay with a family in a foreign country for a cultural exchange and to take care of their children as nannies do.

The differences between an au pair and a nanny are that the latter makes a career out of childcare work, might be older, and doesn’t seek a cultural exchange. Au pairs become part of the host family. They live and vacation with together and receive lodging, meals, and a monthly salary from the host family. Besides taking care of the children, they perform some household chores and overall can be considered older siblings to your kids.

I ended up being an au pair for eight months in Istanbul, Turkey. It was a marvelous experience for both my host family and me. I will never forget Oktay and Sibel, the two kids who became my little brother and sister, and my experiences there.

With that experience in mind, if you plan to hire an au pair or nanny, here are some things that you might want to consider:

  • The candidate must have basic first aid knowledge.
  • He or she must have experience taking care of children. Since an au pair will be living with you and will be immersed in your family routine, he or she might have less formal experience taking care of other people’s children. Ask for references in both cases.
  • Make sure he or she shares your family values, especially if you plan to hire an au pair with whom you will be sharing your personal family life. Even though he or she might have other customs, since the au pair is likely from a culture and country different from yours, ask him or her about core beliefs and morals.
  • Use an agency for both au pairs and nannies since most agencies do a background check. There are many au pair agencies out there like Great Au Pair and Au Pair Care
  • Your family should meet the au pair or nanny before you hire him or her. Talk about your expectations and make sure your personalities are a good fit. If the au pair lives in a foreign country, schedule some Skype calls in advance of the move. 
  • Before hiring an au pair or nanny, make sure the monetary compensation and list of specific chores expected from him or her are clear for both parties.

If you make sure through extensive research that the au pair or nanny is a good fit for your family, your family and the au pair or nany will end up having a wonderful and enriching experience.

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