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in-laws from Mexico

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Not intended to be offensive. Due to some strong reactions, I'll remove it.
post #2 of 17
I lived in Mexico when mu kids were little and I wouldn't say lateness is a Mexican thing - not amongst my then-ILS and other folks I knew, at least.

Lateness is a personal thing rather than a cultural thing IME. When I was little my mum was always labelled as 'late' by my aunt but as my mum said, my aunt only had herself to think about and not herself, a husband and two children.

Some people can get out of their house in an organised manner and some can't
post #3 of 17
It is cultural. I have observed it most often with the Mexican and Filipino people in my life and have heard them describe this relaxed attitude toward time as "Mexican time" or "Filipino time", but I had a friend who went to Ireland and said not only was everyone she met there the same way, but no matter how far away something was, if it took less than half a day to get there on foot, it was described as "a half hour walk" .

You just have to be flexible. Have snacks ready for kids if a meal takes a long time to prepare, let your kids know that if people are late you won't have time to do everything you want to do so they won't be disappointed, and try to go with the flow.
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by lynsage View Post
It is cultural. I have observed it most often with the Mexican and Filipino people in my life and have heard them describe this relaxed attitude toward time as "Mexican time" or "Filipino time", but I had a friend who went to Ireland and said not only was everyone she met there the same way, but no matter how far away something was, if it took less than half a day to get there on foot, it was described as "a half hour walk" .

You just have to be flexible. Have snacks ready for kids if a meal takes a long time to prepare, let your kids know that if people are late you won't have time to do everything you want to do so they won't be disappointed, and try to go with the flow.
I think the only people who do ANYTHING on time are Americans. Seriously. I have heard it so many times about how Americans are always into much of a hurry......from my Mexican and Spanish friends everything is "Tomorrow....tomorrow or tomorrow." My Italian friend is like "Why in such a hurry...we'll eat when we eat." It's no big deal.

The only other people I know in America who are this late or time un-conscience are southerners...I grew up there...everything is in slow motion. I love it.
post #5 of 17
Crikey. Sometimes it really bothers me reading such big-up-AMERICA stuff on these forums.

For heavens sake how do you think any other country in the world manages with such time un-conscious people running them?!?

Please note that I am in the UK and we aren't a second class country thank you very much. I can't see how this kind of stereotypical prejudice is OK on MDC when this is a very international forum.

I don't like it
post #6 of 17
I am mexican, from a long line of mexicans. this is not cultural this is personal.
post #7 of 17
My USA-centric view is that it is likely just a personal trait of your SIL and that it's silly to assign this to an entire culture...

However, I have noticed when traveling/ living in other countries that there is a *much* higher tolerance for delays and vague timelines in general. Folks here in the US seem to be accustomed to definite schedules and are fairly intolerant of waiting- I know I'm absolutely guilty of this!

I agree with the PP who suggested making some snacks to have on hand for the kids and going with the flow- it'll make you feel better in the end! My younger sister is chronically late and my older sister eventually got over her frustration and started telling her that events started 1/2 hour to 1 hour earlier than they actually do... lol.
post #8 of 17
OMG, this has to be a joke right? Lateness is not a cultural thing, DH is American and he's know known for his punctuality so becuase of him I must assume that all Americans are always late to their appointments...

post #9 of 17
I am just repeating what my friends and family from those cultures have told me. Obviously, every individual from a given culture isn't going to participate in cultural phenomena- just like not everyone from my region of America likes beer and hot dogs, but it's certainly a "thing" around here and I wouldn't get my panties in a bunch if someone observed that Midwesterners tend to enjoy a brew and a brat.

I'm also not saying it's better that North Americans tend to have bigger issues about being punctual. I have traveled a lot of places and had friends from all over the world, and the U.S. is the only place from which I have routinely encountered people who get freaked out over things not starting right on time, what time to have dinner, etc. I personally prefer the more relaxed attitude toward time and think it's a better way to live.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Some of the responses really made me think about this - which is a good thing! I came up with a few things -

Different cultures DO emphasize and value time differently. To think all cultures value anything, time in this case, the same way I do is naive, and in my opinion, ethnocentric. Having traveled extensively, having a husband raised in the culture I am asking about and who said it was his cultural experience as well, having a husband who regularly does business in many different countries, I feel totally comfortable saying that different cultures do emphasize and value time differently. Time, being on time, spending time, etc mean different things in different places.

I totally own that I am annoyed and frustrated by chronic lateness. I am not bugged when people are 10 or 15 minutes late, or even later sometimes. But I am annoyed when I make plans, and the other people are regularly about an hour late. I don't make any apologies for it. Everyone has things that bug them.

Questioning this does not mean that I think my country or culture are better as some implied. It also doesn't mean that I dislike any other culture as a whole just because I question one aspect of it. Believe me, there are plenty of aspects of my own culture, American culture, that bother me too. It doesn't mean I dislike it as a whole.

I was trying to find others who have experienced this and how they handled it in a positive way or came up with a different perspective.

My mother in law called this weekend, and I finally brought it up with her. My mother in law has lived in Mexico for 30+ years and run a business there for almost as long. She chose to live in Mexico because she loves the land, the culture, the people and the lifestyle - and she agreed with my feeling that lateness is much more acceptable. She said she finds it in her personal and professional relationships, and that she remembers being very aware of the difference when she first arrived in Mexico. She explained her understanding of why this happens, which helped a lot. I will work to make that my perspective when this comes up with my sister in laws.

I know some people said they haven't experienced this. Maybe it is regional - they live in a touristy beach town, so maybe it should be more attributed to being a "beach culture". Or, maybe we have just met up with a lot of late people.

At any rate, I again apologize to those I offended. I certainly didn't mean to.
post #11 of 17
I am not offended. I am Mexican, born and raised and I agree that there tends to be a much more relaxed attitude towards time. Even in the non-beach town of Mexico City. It's real. Are there individuals in Mexico who object to it and don't behave that way? Certainly. But in many, many situations it is fully accepted and expected that people will be an hour or more late to things. Even business meetings.

There are also cultures where the opposite is true. My dad, knowing that Swedes tend to be exceedingly punctual was very careful to arrive at a party in Sweden what he deemed to be on time (only 15 mins after the starttime.) the hostess was insulted and made comments about Mexicans always being late.

Those who think this is ageneralization or patently untrue should consider that there van be cultural attitudes toward many things: meals, sleeping arrangements, breastfeeding. This doesn't mean that every single person of that culture must or does subscribe to it. Nor does it mean an individual of that culture is incapable of adapting to different expectations.

I am insulted if people say, "she's Mexican so expect her to be late." But I have to agree fully if someone says, "in Mexico there is a relaxed view of time and timeliness."

I'm not sure what the OP question was, but I gather it's a question of getting places on time. In that case I would simply tell my MIL that we have to leave the house at exactly x o'clock or risk missing the event. I would actually say,these types of events are sticklers for punctuality and do not wait for latecomers. Period. That's what worked for my family.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
LauraN, thanks for the reply. The original post was about my sister in law and her sister - not really my MIL. I really enjoy spending time with my sister in law, who lives in Mexico, and her sister, who recently moved from Mexico to our town. I look forward to doing things with them, and we all have young kids who love to be together - but I get super bugged that they are always really late. My initial reaction was that it was rude, but obviously, I know they are coming form a different perspective on this and knowing them as individuals, I know they are not trying to be rude. I was looking for others perspectives on how others handled it and some insight into it so I could see it from a different perspective and then not let it bother me so much. I had always felt like my MIL, because she has been a part of both cultures, could probably share her experiences and insight, but was hesitant to talk to her about it because I didn't want it to seem like I was complaining about my SIL (also her daughter in law, too). Anyways, I appreciate hearing different perspectives.
post #13 of 17
I didnt see the first post...but i get a just of what it was about......I am an American mama living in Mexico with my Mexican husband.....When we have a party...event...gathering...we say the event will start about 5ish or 6ish....We dont really give a certain time to it. They will show up when they do...and we are always so thankful that people want to come to our house and enjoy our company.
Now....In the states...everything seems to be on time and if your late...well then you miss what ever the event is. But if it's an gathering at one's home...then you have room to be felxible...and be thankful for whomever shows up.
I think is a cultural thing....seeing both sides...having lived here in Mexico and the US.
I love the laid backness of living in Mexico....I never feel in a rush...everything happens when it's supposed to happen.
Now i feel a suddden rush when i land on US soil....i feel rushed...feel stressed. It's interesting!
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamadebug View Post
LauraN, thanks for the reply. The original post was about my sister in law and her sister - not really my MIL. I really enjoy spending time with my sister in law, who lives in Mexico, and her sister, who recently moved from Mexico to our town. I look forward to doing things with them, and we all have young kids who love to be together - but I get super bugged that they are always really late. My initial reaction was that it was rude, but obviously, I know they are coming form a different perspective on this and knowing them as individuals, I know they are not trying to be rude. I was looking for others perspectives on how others handled it and some insight into it so I could see it from a different perspective and then not let it bother me so much. I had always felt like my MIL, because she has been a part of both cultures, could probably share her experiences and insight, but was hesitant to talk to her about it because I didn't want it to seem like I was complaining about my SIL (also her daughter in law, too). Anyways, I appreciate hearing different perspectives.
interesting! I hadn't considered that it could have been about someone arriving at your house LOL! To me, when someone's expected at my home, they get lots of leeway. The stated time is merely a suggestion. Mexicans tend towards a good bit of humility in social situations and to many the idea of imposing an arrival is presumptious. Funny, my best friend here in Miami is Cuban and one of the things we appreciate so much about each other is that our plans are always flexible and we don't expect each other to be on time. That doesn't mean I can't be on time to things, but it is a much more relaxed situation for me if it's not expected. I arrive less harried and feeling like I got done what needed doing before leaving the house.

It's a different cultural perspective, absolutely, and I don't expect all my friends in the US to get it. But I'm certain that having that in common is one factor that has brought my Cuban friend and me close. It adds a certain relaxed dynamic to our friendship, a lack of expectations and we feel a certain respect for all that each of us does in a day.

Again, I am fully aware that many who read this think the opposite, that lateness equals disrespect for the person waiting for you. Since I have functioned in many different cultural situations, I get that and if needed I offer that symbolic respect to a friend. But please understand that it is totally cultural.
post #15 of 17
LOL! So I talked with my dad about this, and he said something I hadn't considered. The part that has been the hardest for him to get used to since he moved to the US is that not only do people expect you to be on time, but they also expect you to leave by a certain time. In Mexico, that would again be considered disrespectful to the guest. To a Mexican, it's akin to saying, "my time is more valuable than my relationship with you."

Understand, again, that neither my father nor I believe the above statement to be true. Only that, culturally, that's how it would be perceived if you imposed an end-time to a party in Mexico.

And that made me think about how within the Lebanese community which we live in here in Miami, punctuality is absolutely expected. One is expected to arrive "fashionably late" to any gathering or dinner invitation, which means 15 to 20 mins late and no more. But the hosts would never, ever give an end time to the party. And so the Lebanese parties go on into the wee hours. Even dinners that started at 8 pm go on until 1 am or later.

When someone throws a child's birthday party at Chuck E Cheese or the equivalent, it is always with embarrassment that they say that the party must be over 2 hours after it starts (or whatever the requirement of the establishment).

So I asked my dad, having never worked in Mexico myself, how people deal with business meetings when everyone's late. He said if there's a reason to have everyone there at the same time, the time you schedule is always an hour earlier than when you actually need people to be there. Same with parties. If you think you should start eating a meal at 8 pm, then you invite people to arrive at 6:30 or 7, and they will mostly be there by 8. And you expect that some won't, so you keep their setting at the table and welcome them heartily whenever they do arrive.

You know how restaurants sometimes won't seat you until your whole party arrives? That doesn't work in Mexico, LOL. They'll sometimes make you wait until most of your party arrives, but even they don't expect everyone to arrive on time. And the waiters are never annoyed if they've already served everyone at the table and then someone else arrives and they have to put in a new order.

OK, I've rambled on enough. I've enjoyed this opportunity to explain something that to many in my life is considered rudeness. And if I sound a little defensive, understand that I truly don't expect people to get it if they don't have a reason to (coming from such a culture or having lived some time in one). I live by "when in Rome" and am generally on time to things here in the U.S.

To the OP, it sounds like you have basically resolved your original situation. But I just wanted to add that if you think of it from the perspective that I've gone on and on about then maybe it'll help a little? I also think there is nothing wrong with mentioning gently to your SIL that while you get the Mexican thing, you have a hard time planning for it and maybe trying to come to some sort of compromise. Or flat out doing it the Mexican way: tell her you'll meet at 3 when you really want her there at 4.
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
LauraN, thanks again for explaining more! You don't sound defensive at all. Your explanation was what I was looking for - I totally appreciate a different perspective. When I wrote the initial post, I was thinking about more of when we meet up out some place, actually. Although, I gave a couple of examples, and I think one of them was about a dinner at our house. I do feel more flexible about time when meeting up at our house.

As I have thought about this more, I was thinking about the first time we all met up together. We were meeting to have coffee, and they were almost an hour late. I totally wasn't expecting it, and I got super worried - neither of them spoke English very well at that point, they both had young babies, it was a really rainy afternoon and I was totally worried that they were lost or in a car accident. I couldn't dial my SIL's cell number from my cell phone (because it was registering as an international call) and I didn't know her sister's cell number. I was finally getting ready to leave, and they came in. I remember feeling almost mad - here I had just wasted an hour sitting in Starbucks totally worried, and they made no mention of it. I think that kind of situation can be seen two very different ways from two different cultural perspectives!

I totally agree that setting an ending time for a party or event can be seen as kind of odd! I know it is common practice here, and it always seemed normal to me before. My husband would always comment that it seemed to weird to get an invite with an ending time - like enjoying the company of friends can only go from this time to this time, then over!


So, I do get that it is coming form a different perspective. And tired of feeling annoyed by it, I was/am looking for ways to understand what was going on from their perspective. My MIL explained things similarly to how you did. And, I think it really helps to try and see myself through their eyes - they could easily be saying that they enjoying hanging out with me, but that they don't get why I am totally uptight about getting some place right on time! As I have gotten to know them over the last couple of years, I know they wouldn't intentionally do something rude - but I still didn't get why it always happened. I think the best way to approach it is to just remember to plan for it and say we'll meet at 3 when I really mean 4! I think that if I can remember to build that time into our plans, I will be a lot more relaxed about it.
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamato3wild ponnie View Post
I didnt see the first post...but i get a just of what it was about......I am an American mama living in Mexico with my Mexican husband.....When we have a party...event...gathering...we say the event will start about 5ish or 6ish....We dont really give a certain time to it. They will show up when they do...and we are always so thankful that people want to come to our house and enjoy our company.
Now....In the states...everything seems to be on time and if your late...well then you miss what ever the event is. But if it's an gathering at one's home...then you have room to be felxible...and be thankful for whomever shows up.
I think is a cultural thing....seeing both sides...having lived here in Mexico and the US.
I love the laid backness of living in Mexico....I never feel in a rush...everything happens when it's supposed to happen.
Now i feel a suddden rush when i land on US soil....i feel rushed...feel stressed. It's interesting!

I too love the laid back feeling when I am in Mexico, but in my experience, I was feeling really frustrated incorporating that "laid back-ness" into my interactions here. When I am visiting my husband's family in Mexico, I almost expect that things will run behind and it doesn't bother me. (Maybe because it is pretty much vacation for us, too, and so I am just more relaxed about everything anyways!) But, when doing things with the same people up here, where things in this culture do run on more of a rigid schedule, I was finding myself really frustrated.

It is interesting how people adapt when living between two cultures. It must be really interesting to see how things you once took for granted as cultural norms are challenged - and that you may like the difference better!
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