When we look back on our childhoods, we had lots of great times. Hanging out with our primos, being spoiled by our abuelas, watching Saturday morning cartoons and dancing our hearts out at quinces are just a few of our favorite memories from growing up. However, it wasn’t always fun and games. We’d be irresponsible if we didn’t give credit to some of the hilarious ways our parents kept us in line as well. At the time, some threats were straight-up horrifying but now they’re pretty funny. Who knows, maybe we’ll even use some of these lines on our own kids one day.
With these strange and funny punishments in mind, we asked our FIERCE readers what sort of weird warnings their parents issued to them while growing up and we can’t stop laughing over these responses. Here are some of the funniest:
1. Hug it out.
Instagram / @mixedmombrownbabies
“My dad would force my brother and i to hug each other standing in a corner when we got into a fight. We would squeeze each other tryna hurt each other 😂😂😂” — @waitingmoon
2. Pack your bags and go.
Instagram / @nextra.gifts.mtpleasant
“‘Te voy a mandar pa Mexico con tu tía’”— @larrita415_
3. The threat of el Cucuy.
Instagram / @wearemitu
“When I wouldn’t sleep my mom would say, “If you open your eyes, the Cucuy will come to get you!” 😯 It would scare me to death. Pinche cucuy!” — @hellengav74
4. A long visit with abuelita doesn’t seem so bad.
Instagram / @skeddadle181
“My mom would threaten with sending us to Peru. Honestly, looking back, I should have taken her up on it because my Abuelita would have spoiled me rotten 🤣” — @mamabean_d
5. The hand-holding technique.
Instagram / @luciclementine
“When my brother and I would argue in the grocery store, my dad would make us hold hands until we left the store.” — @withlove_mandee
6. Don’t make us pull this car over!
Instagram / @mommydearestinc
“My mother would threaten to stop the car on the freeway and throw us out if we didn’t stop fighting.” — @lamoodyreina
7. A weird and gross punishment that a lot of readers have in common.
Instagram / @tablemannerstx
“My dad would say he was gonna make us lick salt off each other’s backs. We were so grossed out we would check ourselves realllll quick.” — @mividaencolor
8. The underwear warning.
Instagram / @wickedpatterns
“My mom would threatened to tie us in underwear back to back in the balcony 😂” — @danielyspineda
Instagram / @candyskloset
“My mom never threatened. She just gave a look and said, “Want to go to the bathroom?” Which meant a spanking lol.” — @victorria_p
10. Hold your tongue.
Instagram / @kid_spanglish
“‘Se te hace palo la lengua’ was a threat if you even thought about backtalking.” — @killahcarm
11. Cut off from technology.
Instagram / @theradstylist
“My parents would threaten to take the phones and internet modem away when my sister and I would fight. It got so bad that they would actually take them to work with them so we wouldn’t sneak on the internet or call our friends lol.” — @teoami
12. This rice threat sounds painful af.
Instagram / @zahraricetraders
“Threatened to kneel on a pile of rice and lick salt off eachothers back 😂😂😂” — @jessicagmejia
13. What’s with all the licking??
Instagram / @mydadshoney
“My mom would threaten to put honey on my and @pgon805 back and make us lick it off each other” — @wildcardb_tches
Talking about our primos in prison is taboo. If you ever had a family member in prison, you may avoid talking about it outside your family circle. The incarcerated family member then becomes a ghost, a cautionary tale, or a source of shame. We forget how they arrived in this situation and hesitate to offer support. Looking closely at issues that contribute to mass incarceration in this country can offer insights into the matter. It’s time we take a new approach to incarcerated family, and offer help in ways the correctional system refuses. It’s time to humanize our imprisoned primos and primas, showing love and empathy that we would want to see if we were behind bars.
However, looking at social issues that plague the Latinx community, it is no surprise that low levels of education, poverty, and structural discrimination lead to incarceration. With the latest instances of aggression toward the Latinx community at the presidential level, it will be no surprise if acts of discrimination and targeting of Latinos continues to rise.
What other factors contribute to the incarceration of Latinos?
Credit: Bill Oxford / Unsplash
The Pew Research Center reports that in 1991, 60 percent of Latinos were sentenced in federal court for drug-related offenses, and 20 percent for immigration crimes. Yet, these figures changed dramatically, with 48 percent of sentences for immigration crimes, and 37 percent of sentences for drug-related crimes in 2007.
The incarceration of Latinos is feeding into the conversation around the school to prison pipeline.
Credit: @LatinoPPF / Twitter
What is the prison experience really like? Netflix series like Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us,” and “Orange is the New Black” help pull back the curtain on the harsh realities of prison life. More than just TV shows, these depictions exposed micro and macro ways the U.S., home to the largest prison population in the world, focuses not on prisoner rehabilitation, but recidivism instead.
When we think about our family members in prison, we need to remember that they could be facing sexual violence, lack of access to mental health services, solitary confinement, and denial of their reproductive rights.
Credit: Mitch Lensink / Unsplash
It may be the case that an incarcerated family member’s situation is shrouded in mystery and whispers, but this need not be the case. It is not only time to confront these matters at the family level, but to address them at the social level as well. The first step may begin with actually accepting that inmate call. Ask what your family member is going through and share that with the family if he or she permits. You may feel a sense of hopelessness, but there is so much you can do to help not only your own family members but the greater incarcerated Latino community too.
Moving beyond thoughts and prayers—although they’re good too—here are substantive ways you can help incarcerated family members.
Credit: @Art4JusticeFund / Twitter
Visit if you can. Even if it is only a few times a year, the impact of human contact cannot be overstated. Ensure you are on the approved visitor’s list before you go. Bring identification and arrive early. Be a good listener and most importantly, show that family love.
The experience of visiting prison can be inconvenient or even traumatic, so if you feel you cannot commit this fully then try a virtual visit. Apps like JPay offer inmate services like email, video visitation, and secure payment transfers. Send pictures of the family or a video of a holiday gathering.
If apps prove to be intimidating, try sending a letter. Have picture printed out—old school style—and include them in your letters. Families are full of births, marriages, and so many other beautiful life events. Share them with your primos and primas who can’t be there with you. If you feel like you simply don’t want to communicate with your incarcerated family member, but you still want to contribute to the cause in some way, join a prison pen pal organization and bring a sense of human connection to others.
Another way to help the family behind bars is to send books. The organization, NYC books through bars, understands how much books can help with the rehabilitation and the education process in prison.
Another act of solidarity with your incarcerated family member is to donate to the ACLU Prisons Project. “Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, we work to ensure that conditions of confinement are consistent with health, safety, and human dignity and that prisoners retain all rights of free persons that are not inconsistent with incarceration.”
If you have a family member in prison, it is important to their own recovery and reformation to know they have people who love and support them.
Credit: aclu_nationwide / Instagram
With an array of opportunities to help our family members in prison, it is important to note that reintroduction to society can pose a major challenge for former inmates. These are areas where you can help too. Our imprisoned family members may have been victims of the system, they may have survived the only way they know how, or maybe they just made a mistake. Whatever the circumstance, the key is to remember they are human, and most importantly, they are familia. So ask yourself, for their sake and the sake of our community, what can you do to help?