Father's Day

Things Latino Dads Do That Just Make Sense

From the way they show affection to the recycled myths they try to sell as absolute fact — as it turns out, showering after eating isn’t a death sentence — Latino dads are in a league of their own. Typically, they’re louder, hairier and more prone to spontaneous salsa dancing, which is probably what made our mothers fall in love with them in the first place.

I think it’d be safe to say that all Latino dads are unique in the same way. They are all very environmentally conscious, and by that, I mean cheap. They refuse to stop by McDonald’s because there’s always comida en la casa, and they all share the same immigrant mentality, often synonymous with scarcity mentality.

As immigrants who left their home countries to provide better opportunities for their families, our dads have been in survival mode for so long, clinging to the memories of what life was like before, that they can’t seem to shake certain behaviors and beliefs that we know to be totally unfounded. And hilarious, in retrospect.

It’s not so fun to get yelled at as a kid for walking around barefoot, your dad insisting that you’re bound to catch a cold, but as an adult, you realize that these are the absurd hijinks we’ve grown to know and love them for. It’s part of their charm! Here are a few things Latino dads do that just make sense… to them. And to them only. 

1. They’re big on conservation. 

Latino dads don’t throw anything away. The tub of Greek yogurt that your mom bought during her 14-hour-diet? New Tupperware! Plastic grocery bags? Keep them all! The more the merrier. In fact, stuff them inside one another like a Russian nesting doll. Use it for trash, as a lunchbox, as a toolbox… you name it! Those bags are versatile and easy to acquire, but best of all — they’re free.

Their love of conservation doesn’t stop there, as they refuse to misuse any resource. If you’ve spent longer than 10 minutes in the shower, expect a knock at the door: “¡Apúrate!” And why are there so many lights on? ¡Se ve que aquí tu no pagas nada! Don’t you know how high electric bills can get? Latino dads know, and they will never hesitate to remind you. 

2. They (must) love to wait. 

If I had a nickel for every time I saw my dad sitting with his arms crossed, waiting for my mom, my sister and I to be ready… I would have at least a dollar. Latino dads are always the first to get ready, probably due to their easygoing attitude toward fashion. As in, they don’t really have much of an interest in it.

They can throw on a t-shirt with a hole in the armpit, some cargo shorts and they are ready for almost anything. Of course, their Latina lady counterparts aren’t always as efficient, which leads to lots of waiting around. At the mall, Latino dads will pick a bench and hunker down for the duration of the shopping expedition, allowing their wives and daughters to wreak havoc while he people watches.

They also love waiting until they’re near death to go to the doctor. And when we kids go out for a night on the town, you know our dads will be waiting in their favorite recliners when we get home, whether it be midnight or 5:00 a.m. It’s not a bad life; there’s just a lot of down time. 

3. They have very specific preferences when it comes to food. 

Homemade is best and don’t even think about throwing away those three-day-old leftovers. My dad might argue that they taste better with each passing day, and I’m willing to bet that he’s not alone in thinking that.

Latino dads are nothing if not resourceful, even with food. Rice and beans are good for days. Roast pork, too. And yuca? Yuca never goes bad! Just reheat it on the stove with some mojo or fry it up. Voila: a brand-new dish!

This is also partly why they always deny every request to stop at a fast-food restaurant on the way home. “Hay comida en la casa” seems to be their favorite phrase, right up there with, “No vas a comer más?” And don’t even think about suggesting they try new cuisines! Don’t try to lure them into a sushi restaurant under the promise of rice — it’s all over as soon as they see the seaweed. They simply won’t fall for it. Latino dads are so set in their food ways that there is no changing their minds. That’s okay, though. More California rolls for us.

4. They have a no-nonsense approach to life. 

Don’t ever tell a Latino dad that you’re bored because he will find you something to do and it will not be pretty. Bored? Entonces why don’t you wash all the cars and then help retile the bathroom? Don’t complain, either, because they had it much, much worse than you. Back in their country, they had to trek 10 miles in the desert just to get a churro, me entiendes?

As kids, we’ve all spent terrifying evenings doing math homework with our dads, forever traumatized by their reaction to our wrong answers. And this will never change. It doesn’t matter how old you are, you will always be a kid in your dad’s eyes. We’ve all heard every Latino dad warning in the book.

They provide traffic reports, weather reports, crime rates and generally try to scare you against stepping foot outside your door. The truth is Latino dads are suspicious of almost everything and they love us fiercely, which can be a tricky combination to navigate.

Ultimately, they just want what’s best for us… as long as they agree with it. But hey — we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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