things that matter

As Mothers We Need To Stop Thinking ‘Pow-Pow’ And Chancla Culture Are An Acceptable Way Of Raising Our Kids

I’m what they call a millennial Latina mom. That means growing up I often endured the old school style of Latinos parenting where chanclas and “quieres pow pows” were meant to be the end all be all of “bad” behavior. Today, even despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics has voiced their strong opinion that corporal punishment, physically disciplining your child, isn’t just inappropriate parenting, you can still find in our culture memes and jokes about la chancleta. And while the rate of spankings have gone down in recent years, polls have shown that those “good, hard spankings” that you might have “turned out alright” in spite of can cause long-term harm.

Here’s a look at the reasons why we have to stop spanking our kids.

Pow-pows teach the wrong lesson.

 
“Coco” / Walt Disney Pictures /Pixar Animation Studios

“It’s better to be feared than loved” is a sentiment often touted by managers and leaders who have an odd understanding of proper management. Mind you this phrase was also created by Niccolò Machiavelli a politician and philosopher who often encouraged dishonesty and the killing of innocents in certain situations in his work. Sure, this method of teaching which chancla culture stem from might encourage your child to cower at the sight of you when your raise a flip-flop but it also teaches them that you are not to be trusted particularly in a stage in their life when they are just learning.

Chanclas teach kids that they can get what they want by being physically violent.

harryswife801 / Twitter


As parents, we’re physically stronger and bigger than our children. When we use our size to overpower our children and try to get them to behave a certain way we’re teaching them that to get what you want you can abuse those who are smaller and weaker than they are. This is a classic example of why kids who are often abused at home often go to school and end up bullying their peers.

The reason for the spanking gets lots on them.

andheri5 / Twitter


They may forget why they are being spanked in the first place. They’re doing so much to avoid #lachancla that they can’t even fathom why they are in trouble.

Adults can lose control when expressing anger physically.

 
SaludAmerica / Twitter

When you give yourself a chance to hit your child you put yourself at risk of being an abusive parent. As adults we often experience so much stress and have a hard time coping as it is when we are frustrated, upset, sad or tired. When we start to hit our kids during moments of stress, our minds ultimately begin to associate the feeling as a release for the mind. Soon enough you could look to abusing your kid as a way to stop feeling stressed out.

It could damage your relationship with your child.

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Studies on the effects of physical punishment have found that the more spankings a child receives, the more likely they are to become defiant towards their parents and authorities, which means a decrease in the quality of their relationships with their parents.

You may not get the reaction you are looking for.

“Coco” / Walt Disney Pictures /Pixar Animation Studios

When spanking a child it’s likely that your initial intent might be to correct your child’s poor behavior, but what extents will you go in the moment of punishment if the reaction you want doesn’t happen?

You become the bully

 
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Kids are resilient and remember everything. Why let them think of you like that? After so long they will start to remember. Why become the bully instead of the parent?

Disrupting their self-confidence

 
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It’s almost like being in a relationship and feeling like you are emotionally being tortured. That’s what it’s like for kids. Even though they lose to test you and think everything is funny. Doing this constantly just is not.

You’re bullying a future child who will go onto get bullied by others

 
SaludAmerica / Twitter

Then parents wonder why their kids are being bullied. Even being yelled at furiously. Many kids end up becoming the bullied from being bullied at home. What’s more, children are more likely to become adult victims of abuse when they are older if they think that their parent’s abusive behavior is appropriate.

They won’t be a leader

 
vikypicon / Instagram

Growing up I was always taught the future of a Latina is being a leader. When you instill bullying or fear how is your child going to be a leader when you aren’t?

You’re not strong

 
EuniqueJG / Twitter

Spanking your kids can cause kids to think about all the pain they have to endure instead what they should focus on.

It’s really not that funny

 
lgbtdaniela / Twitter

La Chancla is classic even to Latinos. All in all, it’s not as funny as many people put it.  Realizing this is not a funny way to discipline will help in the long run.

Older peers aren’t that powerful

 
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Every generation is different. It’s okay to give lessons to your parents or grandparents gave you. Have your own form of parenting to make your own mark.

I don’t want to be that parent

Modern Family

As a mother I don’t want to be pushed so using positive reinforcement is the way to go or you do end up feeling like spanking is the way to go.

Our world is already full of violence

dulcedolan / Twitter

Fueling to the fire isn’t what Latinos are about. We want peace even within our families. We don’t want to be the stereotype on why the world is the way it is. This all starts at home.

I’m not the reason why mental health is out of control

journoresource / Twitter

Our kids are the future. This means their mental health can become at stake when spanking as a form discipline.

I’m not their friend but I am their role model

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This is the main part of being a Latino mom. Uplifting to do better than what you had. Even if you had a great life before motherhood.

 You’re raising an influencer

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Making sure your child knows their worth is important. By spanking your kids you may instill a notion that they aren’t.

 It’s the 2000’s, not 1950!

 
I Love Lucy

Things have changed. That even includes parenting. It was okay to spank your kids but after all this time look at what it has put on our society and our future. What does it really teach you as a Latina Mom. Be strong and better than that.


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Model-Activist Denise Bidot Proves You Don’t Have To Be Your Daughter’s Best Friend To Be A ‘Cool Mom’

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Model-Activist Denise Bidot Proves You Don’t Have To Be Your Daughter’s Best Friend To Be A ‘Cool Mom’

Since first stepping on the catwalk more than a decade ago, Denise Bidot has been serving fly curvaceous looks that captured the entire world’s attention. But as an international model, shooting for brands like Forever 21, Target, Levi’s Jeans, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Old Navy and Lane Bryant, and becoming the first plus-size woman to walk for straight-size brands during New York Fashion Week, the Puerto Rican-Kuwaiti beauty delivered something greater to the fashion industry: a body revolution.

The Miami-born modelo, who currently splits her time between the “Magic City” and New York, has been a central figure in inserting ideas of the grassroots body positive and fat liberation movements into the mainstream world of glamour and vogue. By breaking barriers and refusing to stay quiet on body politics, Bidot, alongside a growing collective of model-activists, brought visible change to the industry, with big brands and media alike increasingly, albeit slowly, showcasing more diverse and inclusive representations of fashion and allure. With the trade shifting, the Latina veered her attention toward changing societal perspectives, creating the No Wrong Way Movement in 2016. For the last two years, the online space has been encouraging individuals everywhere to embrace their most authentic selves through a blog, speaking engagements and a YouTube channel.

But after years of working tirelessly to reshape dominant culture and industries into one that is accepting of, and empowering for, full-figured, vivacious Latina women like herself, Bidot this year decided to bring the body revolution to her own community as a host and mentor on Univision’s Nuestra Belleza Latina. In its 10th season, the revamped beauty contest ditched limiting size and age restrictions as well as took on a new tagline, one that resonated with Bidot: “Sin tallas, sin límites y sin excusas.”

(Courtesy of Univision)

“I think I live by those statements. Sin tallas: Who knew I would ever be a model? Who cares about my size, look at all I’ve done. Sin límites: These girls felt limited. As minorities as a whole, we don’t think we can make it because of where we come from, our color, our accent. But we are telling women none of that matters. If you dream big and work hard, those limitations no longer exist. We can climb through together. Sin excusas: With no more limits, there’s now no more excuses. All your dreams are waiting for you” Bidot, who was invited to join the show after participating as a consultant to improve the inclusivity of the program, told FIERCE.

The 32-year-old has called the experience of judging and mentoring for Nuestra Belleza Latina the “most rewarding project she’s ever worked on,” both because it is the first time in her career where she felt she was able to be her full, true spirited self and because she can identify with the girl contestants and audience battling insecurities, believing in themselves for the first time and seeking a change in the dominant representation of feminine Latinidad.

“I think it’s a dated mentality. For so many years, we needed to fit certain standards to be the perfect Latina. I don’t think it’s the case currently. Shows like NBL are changing that. It’s the beginning of a change we will see 40 or so years from now. Someone has to be the first. It was damaging for me growing up,” Bidot said. “… But the modern Latina woman doesn’t feel represented by that anymore, so while that may still predominantly be the case in most markets, we are working toward a different future, and I hope it’ll allow women to see themselves and feel empowered.”

(Courtesy of Denise Bidot)

But as Bidot, a mom to a 10-year-old daughter, knows well, media isn’t the only influencer in how girls and women view themselves. Parents play a critical role in raising youth to be strong, smart and confident, and each of these qualities, she says, helps make them formidable in a culture, society and industry that still largely hinge on women’s and girls’ insecurities.

Here, the curve model and self-love advocate shares lessons on raising an empowered, body-positive girl.

1. Resist The Urge To Baby Your Daughter.

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5th Grade Groupie . ????✏️

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Don’t baby them. Instead, talk to them. “I talk to my daughter like a loving equal. Now she is 10 years old and carries herself with maturity and a wonderful confidence, and I’m like, ‘oh girl, yes!’”

2. Stay On Top Of The Few Things You Can Actually Control.

While Bidot prides herself on being a cool mom, she’s the first to admit that she’s also a stringent mami. “I’m very strict on sugar, on hours sitting in front of the TV, on what games she’s playing and on which social media apps she has. We are navigating a different world, so learning as we go and listening is important, but don’t give them the kind of freedom where you no longer know what’s happening. Control what you have control over, what’s inside your house, because once they leave, you don’t have control over those outside influences.”

3. Have Her Repeat Affirmations To Herself.

Affirmations, Bidot says, are key. “Sometimes we are uncomfortable looking at ourselves in the mirror or hearing our voices. We just always put ourselves down. For me, it’s been important to have her in the mirror talking to herself, saying: ‘You are beautiful. You are strong. You are worthy.’ At first, she laughed and was like, ‘Mom, for real?’ And I get it. I laughed, too. But it matters because you’re putting these words out in the world, and you start understanding and believing them. Words are powerful. Listening to herself and looking at herself is self-development.”

4. Make Your Hija Your Plus-One.

Instead of looking for a babysitter so that you can go to Paris for the weekend to feel alive, Bidot says it’s more worthwhile, for you and her, to feel alive with your kid. “I’m single, so she is always my date, but when we travel, we learn about the world together. That has taught me as an adult, so I can’t imagine how she sees it. It’s crucial for her to know that the world is bigger than our town or our country. People have different cultural values. They have necessities. It’s an eye-opening experience that shapes their character. Don’t be afraid to take trips you are dreaming about with your kids. These moments and experiences will strengthen your bond. We talk about our trips with family. You don’t have to take them often, but when you can. I’m fortunate to travel for work and add her ticket on. I’m a single mom, so I have to bring her. But she adds more value, more love.”

5. Teach Them But Also Let Them Form Their Own Opinions.

Personally, as a mom, I see it as my duty that the one child I raise is equipped to take on the challenges life brings. I do this by teaching her, telling her to do affirmations and be kind to everyone, to make sure she is strong and confident. We know insecurities happen. It’s impossible to be strong and confident 100 percent of the time, but we have to allow them to build a core sense of self and empowerment. We need them to see things with their own perspective. With my daughter, people tell her things and it bounces off of her. She doesn’t let a comment someone makes ruin her life.”

Read: 7 Body Positive Latina Models That Are Killing The Fashion World and Beyond

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HBO’s Latest Documentary “The Sentence” Sheds Light On How Unjust Mandatory-Minimum Sentences Can Break A Family

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HBO’s Latest Documentary “The Sentence” Sheds Light On How Unjust Mandatory-Minimum Sentences Can Break A Family

On February 29, 2008, Cindy Shank’s life changed forever. That’s the day the Lansing, Michigan-based Mexican-American was sentenced to 15 years in prison on drug conspiracy charges, forcing her to be a mother, wife, daughter and sister from hundreds of miles away for nonviolent crimes she did not commit. Her story is the subject of “The Sentence,” an award-winning documentary filmed by Shank’s brother, Rudy Valdez, exploring the injustice of mandatory-minimum sentencing. 

“I don’t think anyone else could have made this film about my family. I don’t think it would have had the same effect,” Valdez, who started shooting videos of his three nieces — Autumn, Annalis and Ava — so that his older sister could watch some of the many moments she missed while away in prison when she returned home, told FIERCE. The home recordings inspired a documentary eight months into Shank’s sentence, when she cried over the phone imagining her oldest daughter dance at an upcoming recital. “I had an opportunity to tell a story you don’t get to hear about: the family, the children left behind and the residual effects of long sentences,” he continued.

That story begins in 2002, when Shank’s then-boyfriend, Alex Humphry, who started selling drugs after they began dating, was murdered.

When police officers arrived at the scene, they found 20 kilograms of cocaine, a kilogram of crack cocaine, 40 pounds of marijuana, $40,000 and guns. While mourning the death of her partner, Shank was indicted for multiple drug crimes. Maintaining her innocence — she alleges she was never a part of her late ex’s drug offenses — she declined a plea deal and, with no evidence against her, was released from jail with her case dismissed.

In the years that followed, Shank moved on with her life: she fell in love again, got married, bought a home and had three daughters. But during an early morning in March 2007, police once again knocked on her door, this time arresting Shank on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

“Conspiracy is knowledge. Any knowledge you have of a crime, you could be charged for that crime,” Shank says in the nearly one hour and thirty minute-long film. “Basically, I lived in the home, so any crimes he committed while we lived together I was charged with.”

Shank, nor her parents, husband or brother, has ever denied guilt for not informing police officers of her boyfriend’s misdeeds. Throughout the documentary, her, and her worried family, take issue with the unfairness of her 15-year prison term. For the family, as well as the litigators and experts interviewed for the film, mandatory-minimum sentencing laws — controversial regulations that encourage strict sentencing rules over judicial discretion — account for one of the greatest failures of the U.S. government. The law, once considered unconstitutional, puts power into the hands of prosecutors, rather than judges, and has been abused in the drug war to punish tens of thousands of low-level, nonviolent state and federal defendants with harsh terms.

In the film, Valdez is one of the biggest opponents of mandatory-minimum sentencing, speaking with media about the wrongfulness of these laws and unceasingly fighting, through failed appeals and a clemency petition, to have her sister released early. His battle comes to a triumphant end in November 2016, eight years into Shank’s term, when then-President Barack Obama commuted his sister’s sentence. Shank was released on December 21, 2016, just in time to surprise her daughters for the holidays.

“The best is the little things: holding my daughters at night, having conversations with them, knowing them from the inside out. I know Ava doesn’t like cheese. I know how much I have to tickle Annalis to get the dimple on her cheek,” Shank, now 45, told FIERCE.

But she’s the first to acknowledge that her long-awaited release hasn’t just brought sunny days.

Shank, whose husband filed for divorce three years into her sentence, is trying to build relationships with daughters, who know her more from five-minute phone conversations and annual prison visits than caring for them at home.

“The hardest is the late-night conversations. Annalis comes to me and asks why were you gone. We are still having these talks and will throughout our lives. Who knows what’s to come? We won’t know the ramifications of all of this until the future. We’ll see it in what lies ahead and the decisions they make,” she added.

Accompanying her pain for lost time is that of the continued years, months, weeks and days of the people who, like she once was, remain behind bars because of unjust mandatory-minimum sentences. Shank was one of more than 35,000 inmates who requested consideration for a commuted or reduced sentence through the non-government affiliated organization the Clemency Project 2014, and she is one of less than 2,000 to receive it.

“When Rudy told me it was just 1,600 people, it crushed me. My heart crushed because I know what that’s like. Every time a list would come out, I would look to see if I was on it — for three years. I know what it’s like to have that hope and to feel defeated every time it lets you down. Hope is hard to have, and yet it’s the hardest to live without,” she said.

For Valdez, this documentary isn’t for his sister, his nieces or his parents. Instead, it’s for the tens of thousands whose names were not listed, for those who continue to be forgotten in the U.S.’ criminal justice system.

“This film is about the larger issue. Her story is emblematic of everyone else, of the people still there and of the children still going through this,” Valdez said. “This is for those who are going to go through this fight in the future and those who have been left behind.”

Check out the trailer below:

Watch “The Sentence” on Monday, October 15 at 8 p.m. ET on HBO.

Read: Locked Up: How Latinas Became One Of The Fastest-Growing Prison Populations

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