Latina Moms' Nurturing Secret, Unearthed!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For better or worse, many Latina moms' intense nurturing is everlasting, particularly towards their daughters, says Sandra Guzmán in this excerpt from her book "The New Latina's Bible." This long umbilical cord is buried in tradition.

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An Old Custom

Our families tend to baby their kids longer than non-Latinos do. The way we nurture our children is one of the things I treasure in our culture. A Latina mother never, and I mean nunca, kicks her adult daughter out of the house so she can "discover the world" or "be out on her own."

Latino parents are doting, loving and very protective, especially of their girls. However, the downside of this "Latina mama nurturing" is when babying and nurturing extend through college and into our adult lives. No matter how grown up we are, they refuse to "let go." But this extended umbilical cord has an ancient tradition.

In an old custom practiced by the natives of the American Southwest and northern Mexico, the umbilical cord of a newborn girl is buried under the house so that she will never leave home or stray from her domestic duties. When I read about this, I checked with my mom to see if she'd ever heard of it. To my surprise, she told me that similar rites are performed regularly in Puerto Rico and most parts of the Spanish Caribbean, only it's the placenta of a newborn girl that's buried under the house to ensure that she'll grow up to love the home!

My sister Mari, the only one of us not born in a hospital, suffered the effects of this tradición. My fisherman grandpa buried her placenta under his house a few hours after she was delivered and, as it turns out, Mari is absolutely the most hogareña of my mother's three daughters--a real Martha Stewart type. My mom is convinced that the buried placenta is why Mari (unlike Wandi or me) is so "loving" of la casa.

Mari only recently found out about the fate of her placenta and wants to plan a trip to unearth the remains! The running joke in my family is that my placenta was thrown into the Caribbean.

Excerpted from "The New Latina's Bible: The Modern Latina's Guide to Love, Spirituality, Family, and La Vida," by Sandra Guzmán. Available from Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2011.


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Sandra Guzmán is an award-winning journalist and former editor in chief of Latina magazine and a former associate editor at the New York Post. A writer and producer who has produced hundreds of stories for Fox Television's morning show "Good Day New York" and Telemundo, Guzmán won an Emmy for her half-hour special, "Embargo Contra Cuba," which aired on Telemundo's New York affiliate.

For more information:

Sandra Guzmán's Web site:

"The New Latina's Bible":

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