Latinx Parenting, both an online and in-person bilingual organization, is not only rooted in social justice and intergenerational healing, but in the rights and well-being of Latinx children, who, make up 26% of the nation’s total child population.
To best serve Latinx families, Latinx Parenting offers a multitude of workshops and courses, such as Decolonized Nonviolent Parenting, Ending Chancla Culture and Healing the Madre Wound, for families and current and former Latinx children. Additionally, training is available for therapists, teachers and healthcare workers to learn how to better serve the Latinx community.
Each of the offerings can be found on their Escuelita page, where you can sign up for sessions, find session recordings and join the cultivated community that allows all Latinx Parenting participants to get better acquainted.
The feeling of closeness, whether in-person or over Zoom, for Latinx parents and families, not only creates a safe environment but makes them a priority, an ongoing theme for Latinx Parenting, even before it became as well-known as it is today.
With only two children at the time, a master’s degree on hold at California State University, Fullerton, and a passion for children’s rights and the decolonization of oppressive practices in Latinx families, 35-year-old mother of three, Leslie Priscilla, founded Latinx Parenting in July 2018 in the master bedroom of her house.
“I would go to a party supply place, rent out 12 chairs, and bring them back to my house. I would set them up [with a] little flow chart and I would teach every Saturday morning to whoever wanted to come,” Priscilla said. “We would let them in the back gate, they would come in, we would have a two-hour class, and then they would go and I would see them again the next week.”
After finding a bigger space, Priscilla continued to teach Latinx families for two years until the pandemic forced the organization to go online, where it not only grew traction with courses expanding, such as her eight-week course on the reparenting framework but set the foundation for the organization as a whole.
“The reparenting course focuses on inner child healing and also developing a relationship with the version of yourself that’s the inner parent and really moving towards that idea of yourself as your ‘Future Abuelita’ or ‘Abuelito Self,’” Priscilla said. “That progress is really necessary for parents because it’s not just about healing and it’s not just about parenting, it’s also about healing your own narrative within your own story. I really started seeing that parenting and reparenting were these two legs that Latinx Parenting stands on.”
Along with reparenting, Latinx Parenting makes it a priority to end chancla culture, the oppressive strategies, such as shame, fear and punishment, used against children to manipulate them, which is exhibited in their introductory workshops and courses.
The focus of Latinx Parenting stems back much further than a makeshift classroom. A daughter of two Mexican immigrants, Priscilla’s childhood consisted of ever-present stress and abuse, and when she was only nine years old, she wanted to create a safe space for her sister, which the founder believes is the catalyst of her career.
“I knew that I wanted to be an attachment figure for my sister,” Priscilla said. “I knew that I really wanted to be a safe space and somebody that she could rely on emotionally in a way that she wasn’t able to do with my parents. I think my working with children evolved from the experience of being a big sister to my sister.”
As she grew older, Priscilla had the desire to heal and better understand her experience not only as a child but a child from a Latino family, pointing her in the direction of psychology. But she was unable to find classes or a degree with a combination of both.
“There wasn’t Chicano psychology or Latino psychology that was available to me,” Priscilla said. “So, I started being very serious and doing a lot of self-study on the cultural aspects and trying to figure out a way to integrate Latinx into psychology.”
With an associates degree in Early Childhood Education from Orange Coast College, a bachelor of arts in both Child Development & Family Studies and Family Life Education from California State University, Long Beach, numerous certificates in child development and family life, along with a passion for the Latinx community, Priscilla was equipped for her career.
Serving as a parent coach for over 14 years prior to Latinx Parenting, Priscilla was a preschool teacher, a behavioral coach for preschool and elementary school-aged children, and then the Parent Educator, Community Partnership Coordinator, & Interim Director for the Orange County Child Abuse Prevention Center (now the Priority Center), as well as the Manager of Youth & Professional Programs at National Alliance of Mental Illnesses (NAMI) in Orange County.
While at NAMI, she noticed a lack of prioritization in the needs of the Latinx community they claimed to help, and when she voiced concerns, she was met with animosity.
“I was working directly with Latinx families, so I knew what the needs were, but when I would bring them up [to NAMI leadership], I was seen as being unprofessional. I was seen as subversive and a troublemaker because I was very critical about the things that they were asking of us to give to the families,” Priscilla said. “They were asking us to facilitate a curriculum that was not culturally sustaining, that was not relevant to the communities we were working with.”
With her advocacy shut down there, Priscilla wanted to create an organization that supported the community it served and placed the needs of families higher than those of stakeholders and funders.
“Latinx Parenting is actually not a nonprofit. We run very similar to a nonprofit, but the people that I tend to are the people that come and take the offerings,” Priscilla stressed. “The stakeholders are not any funders [or] any investors, my stakeholders are the people that I’m serving. And so, my job is to make sure that everything that we offer is relevant and sustaining to Latinx culture.”
Priscilla adds, “It’s a community of people who are wanting to evolve the culture in a way that will lead to the liberation of our families. The Latinx community is such a beautiful people and has so many strengths. It’s about remembering the truth about ourselves and our words and our sacredness. I want Latinx people to reflect on all the beauty that they hold, the support that they deserve, and the strength and the capacity to be in loving, good relationships with their children and families.”
If you’re interested in joining the End Chancla Culture movement or signing up for a workshop, course, or training, make sure to check the Latinx Parenting website. Keep an eye out for future offerings, as well as Priscilla’s new book, Chanclas: A Parenting and Reparenting Guide to Reclaiming Our Familia, Our Cultura, and Our Community, expected to release in September 2024.
CALÓ NEWS spent time with Leslie Priscilla, Latinx Parenting’s founder, to discuss her own Latinx childhood experience, the inner workings and offerings of the organization and additional resources.
Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
LESLIE PRISCILLA, 35, Santa Ana, Founder of Lantix Parenting, She/Her, Chicana
AS THE FOUNDER OF LATINX PARENTING, WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE, AS A LATINA, WITH YOUR OWN PARENTS? HOW WAS THIS A FACTOR IN THE ORGANIZATION’S CREATION?
One of the things that I really wanted to do is understand my parents’ experiences and understand my experience as a child. All of the learning that I set out to do, all of the knowledge that I set out to learn was with the goal of healing myself. I think once I recognized what the context was, what the history was, and what their upbringing was, it felt so much better for me to have this understanding and to be able to not attach a lot of expectations that they would be different. Also just knowing that I can hold the fact that my parents did the best that they could with the resources, with the information, with the history, with the tools that they had or did not have access to. And I was still hurt as a child, so it’s not about blaming and it’s not about shaming them because they were stressed out. A lot of our parents were super stressed out.
It’s about understanding what didn’t allow them to have the capacity to be the parents that we might have needed. And once you recognize that, then you can decide whether you want to continue that or whether you want to give yourself the opportunity to have those tools. To access those resources, lean into the support, and not think you’re a burden for asking for help in this experience as a parent. It’s about holding the complexity of our parents and ourselves. It’s about releasing binaries of good parenting and bad parenting. And it’s really just about liberating ourselves from a lot of the oppression that we’ve experienced externally and also that has been internalized.
But it’s okay to feel anger also because anger is a reflection of the pain that you feel towards your inner child. We can allow ourselves to feel that anger and not let it turn into resentment. I feel angry because I love myself and I love my inner niña and I want her to feel safe, and I want her to feel nurtured and validated. And so, therefore, because she didn’t receive that, I feel angry, but that anger can be processed in healthy ways. That anger can be processed in the community together. So it’s not like, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t feel this way,’ no, feel the way that you need to feel. But, also know that that’s a complex experience, I still feel, sometimes, like ‘Dammit,’ I’m still biting my nails because I’m still that little girl sometimes. I remember having stomach aches that were unexplainable when I was seven and eight. And then looking back on it now, I was like, ‘Holy shit. I was so anxious.’ I was such an anxious child because my parents were always fighting. They held really high expectations for me. They sent me to Catholic school to be this perfect child. My mom would spend so much time doing my hair, making sure that everything was perfect. So, that was their expectation of me, perfection. And that can make a child very anxious, and I’m still biting my nails. I’m like, ‘Dammit, I don’t want to do that anymore.’ And maybe one day I’ll be able to not do that anymore. But every now and then, I wish it had been different. I wish I didn’t have to spend so much time healing and so much time being resilient.
I want the Latinx community to get to a place as a culture and as a people, where we’re not raising our children to be in survival [mode]. We are raising them to thrive. And that is what this movement is about. We are done surviving, and I don’t want my kids to just survive, I want them to thrive. Yes, I want them to have the privilege of having a mother who is on a healing journey and who is not projecting her sh*t onto them, her wounds onto them. I want them to have an experience where they are aware of how sovereign and how special they are. And also, that they are guided toward things like accountability, taking responsibility and empathizing with people who have different experiences than they do. That’s a very, to me, sacred role that I hold. And being able to teach them and enter into guiding them and disciplining and all of that, but it’s also allowing them to teach me what they need and not assuming that I know because they’re unique, we’re all unique.
THE ORGANIZATION, ACCORDING TO THE WEBSITE, OFFERS WORKSHOPS TO “TEACH NEW STRATEGIES FOR CONNECTION, REGULATION, AND PEACE WITH YOUR CHILD, FAMILY, AND SELF.” WHAT SORT OF TOPICS DO THEY COVER AND WHAT DO THEY ENTAIL?
I have a class on boundaries, I have a class, Healing the Madre wound, where we navigate through a lot of the complexities that we as Latinas experience with our mothers, and I have a class on the intro to reparenting work. I have another class called Ending Chancla Culture, which is very fiery and gives a lot of the history of why we parent the way that we parent. All of that together is what I talk about in the training that I offer to professionals.
They entail information and integration. What that means is there will be information presented, but then I also give the opportunity for people to integrate that information and to make context within their own story. So, usually in a workshop, if you were to go buy one of the workshops, you’ll see that it’s like about an hour of lecture, but then also throughout the workshops, I’m asking questions and so most of them have been virtual. So I’ll ask people to drop their responses in the chat, I’ll read some of them, and then, normally, there is like 20 to 30 minutes of Q&A at the end also so that people can really engage with the material and we can take their situations and the information that we just talked about and then apply it.
AS AN ORGANIZATION, YOU OFFER TRAINING FOR PROFESSIONALS. WHO ARE THEY AVAILABLE TO, AND HOW DO THEY DIFFER FROM OPTIONS MEANT FOR FAMILIES?
For professionals, if you scroll down our Escuelita page, you’ll see that it’s available to register for the March training that we’re having. That one is really for anybody who works with Latinx families. We’ve had therapists, we’ve had teachers, we’ve had other kinds of school professionals, we’ve had doulas and birth workers, we’ve had dentists, and we’ve had other parent coaches. But it really is for anybody that works with the Latinx community in a service capacity. And the one-time workshops are generally just for families. The families themselves, the parents, and former Latinx kids, but professionals can take one-time workshops too because it still applies to their journey personally. But the professional training is eight hours of going over the frameworks that I use, the healing-centered engagement framework, going over privileges and biases and provisionality, going over stereotypes that we hold against Latinx families, going over chancla culture and the history of how religion impacts our families, and it just goes on from there. I work with a lot of organizations and nonprofits that bring me in to train their therapists and schools that have me train their teachers on all of these foundations. I’m working with parents but then also former Latinx kids and also professionals who are working with Latinx families.
There is also going to be a level two that I’m going to be offering at the beginning of next year for a private organization, but at some point next year, we will open that publicly so that we can do a more immersive kind of training. What I find is that eight hours is still too short for people because we’re getting into really, really meaty topics and we don’t get to the meatier stuff because we don’t have the time. So, that’s something that’s coming. Also really important is that we survive and are successful as an organization because of the partnerships that are offered to us, nonprofit agencies, and organizations. For example, the Obama Foundation, which just facilitated their Latinx and parenting employer resource group, and LinkedIn is another one. There are corporations that have reached out for us to come to facilitate their employees. Those are the ones that really offer us the most sustenance. So, there are always opportunities to work with us in that way.
LATINX PARENTING HAS CREATED A LATINX PARENTING SCHOLARSHIP FUND. WHAT PROMPTED IT, HOW DOES IT WORK, AND WHO IS IT OFFERED TO?
For the scholarship fund, right now, we’re just open to anybody that wants to offer a donation. So, sometimes we offer free training or a free series. For example, the Brown Fatherhood series we have every January really tries to bring forth the voices of Latinx dads and how they show up in their masculinity. So, for events like that, they’re free to the community. But, we also offer a donation option when you’re signing up for it and those donations are what go into the scholarship fund. Most of the time, we do offer scholarships and there is an application process, but we offer partial scholarships for basically everything that we do, even if it has to come out of our pocket because accessibility is really important to us.
We offer equity-based pricing, as well. When you go to Escuelita, you’ll see that there’s equity-based pricing, with classes for as little as $27 sometimes and up to $47. And the scholarship fund is really for folks to have a little bit more financial privilege to be able to offer and pay it forward for people who are not in that same financial privilege. There are different ways that we ask for those kinds of donations. We haven’t really been very front-facing about the scholarship fund because we haven’t had a very concrete system to be able to share it. But, there’s always the option to donate when you’re signing up for the free offerings. We used to use a PayPal donation option on the website, but I don’t know if it’s there anymore. There’s also the Patreon and there’s a Buy Me a Coffee. There are different ways to contribute.
WHAT DOES “ENDING CHANCLA CULTURE” MEAN, AND HOW DOES LATINX PARENTING PLAN TO DO SO?
Ending Chancla Culture is ending adult supremacy in Latinx families. Ending Chancla Culture is ending colonizer culture in Latinx families. Ending Chancla Culture is about liberation and social justice for Latinx kids. And Chancla Culture, I feel like it’s important to define what that is, it’s the way of supremacy culture and ‘power over’ dynamics of care in our parenting and in our relationships with others. It’s not just about La Chancla. La Chancla is really an emblem that a lot of us have become really familiar with as a stereotype of how Latinx parents are. So, La Chancla really is just an invitation into the conversation and the questions that I ask sometimes and people trying to debate me on is like, ‘Would La Chancla videos still be funny if it was an adult child throwing a chancla at their elderly parents?’ or ‘Would it still be funny if it was a man throwing a chancla at his wife because he didn’t like her dinner?’ It’s not just about La Chancla itself, either, it’s also about the verbal chancletazos, the emotional chancletazos, the internalized chancletazos, and the ways that we shame ourselves and talk badly about ourselves. La Chancla is just an emblem of the violence that we see sometimes in our family and in our community.
It’s just the doorknob, right? Just turn the doorknob if you’re interested in it and you walk into this house with many rooms that are the Ending Chancla Culture movement. We want to talk about history, social dynamics, mental health, what Latinx kids are experiencing in terms of how connected they are to their families, and how some of those statistics are really sad. And there are very few resources that focus specifically on the Latinx experience. I feel very immersed in the Latinx world because I am of that world, but when you look at everything else, when you go to Barnes & Noble and you look at the parenting bookshelf, what do you see? You see the parenting section over there–totally white, totally western. And then you see the Latinx section over there–brown, but not talking about parenting and not talking about family. So, I really see Latinx Parenting as that bridge between those two worlds.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT PARENTING IN THE LATINX COMMUNITY SINCE YOU FIRST FOUNDED THE ORGANIZATION? IS THERE A DIFFERENCE IN PARENTING WITHIN DIFFERENT GENERATIONS, OR ARE THEY SIMILAR?
The majority of the parents that I had worked with up until 2015 were a little bit of an older generation and mostly immigrant populations. And they had teenagers that had children already. I would go to schools and hand out flyers and try to get them interested in some of these classes that I was facilitating, and the señoras were down, but the younger generation was not as down, because there was a lot of woundedness, a lot of hurt. You have to be really ready to be able to experience grief in order to be able to engage with the conversation. And I’m not saying that was the majority because I feel like, for those of us that have had education privilege and we went to college and things like that, we’re in a position to be more open to it. But there are some of us, like my cousins, for example, who experienced a lot of trauma in our childhood and are not necessarily ready to have that conversation. I grew up with my cousins, but they were 40 minutes away, so I wasn’t exposed to a lot of things that they were exposed to where they were living. It just depends on how open people are to experiencing grief and to recognizing their wounds. You’ll have people that are ready in every generation, and you’ll have people that are not ready in every generation. We can’t generalize generations because then we’re not holding the complexities of their experiences. And we don’t know anything about anybody except for the stories that they’re willing to share with us.
Even my parents, two Mexican immigrants. My mom grew up in el rancho, but my dad grew up in the city. Completely different experiences. The same generation, completely different experiences. Geographic location matters, and specific family lineage matters. Do they have Spanish blood? How far away is that in the generation? My mom grew up in el rancho and my Abuelita grew up in an indigenous village, Tarahumara, but that was not the experience of my grandmother on my dad’s side. Her family was a little bit more well-off—to this day, my dad’s family is more well-off. My dad was the only one of his 10 siblings that migrated [to the U.S.] by choice. That was a choice that he made and that he could do because of his privilege. He was Latino, but he had lighter skin. My mom didn’t have a choice, her father died when she was 14. She had to come over right away and start working in El Paso. Those are two very different experiences, and the way that that shows up in how you raise children is very unique. Those two people raising children and raising me, I was able to see the differences in how they operate. My dad was way more patient with me. He was able to be more affectionate because he grew up in privilege. They had problems too, but he felt very connected to his family, and he still does. He spends six months of the year in Mexico with my tios and my tias. And my mom also feels very connected to her family, but they have a lot of drama between them and so, she wasn’t really able to show up emotionally for me. For [my mom], there was too much woundedness, there was too much trauma. Her father died when she was 14 and there were six kids under her that she had to help support. And she had five siblings that were older, so there’s still a lot of trauma and a lot of drama. So, understanding the differences between their two experiences has been really important for me to understand how my experience and my identity integrates into theirs, and vice versa.
SINCE FOUNDING LATINX PARENTING, HOW HAVE YOU SEEN IT INFLUENCE YOUR OWN PARENTING? HAS IT HELPED? IN WHAT WAYS?
Oh, yeah. I feel very rooted in my identity, and I feel like I’m able to share that with my children in very deliberate and intentional ways. I have this story that I shared recently with my family about my daughter a few weeks ago. My kids’ dad is white, so they are German, French, and Scottish, and they came from all over Europe. My daughter was like, ‘I really want to learn German and I want to visit Germany.’ And I was like, ‘¿Que es?’ You’re going to learn Spanish more.’ Because I’ve been trying to teach her Spanish forever, sometimes I speak to her in Spanish and sometimes she’s cool with it and sometimes she’s not. But, I was like, ‘No, I want you to learn Spanish and we’re going to visit Mexico.’ And she was like, ‘Mom, you’ve been immersing me in Mexican culture for my whole life.’ So, for her, it’s just a part of her, it’s something that she’s been exposed to. But she’s just interested in other things. So, I feel like Latinx Parenting has really allowed me to help my children feel rooted in their identity, at least from their Mexican side, and letting them know that their ancestors were powerful, that their ancestors are still guiding them, that they’re still loved and protected by my abuela and my great grandparents.
I think that I really hold to that, and really reclaiming a lot of indigenous practices, for me, has allowed me to share that with them. Also, for example, I have an altar in my bedroom and now each of my kids has an altar in their bedroom. We both have altars together and they have their different stones and they have their little affirmation cards and they have a candle. Just those traditions that maybe I didn’t grow up with. My mom didn’t have an altar, she had a Bible on her dresser, so the Bible and a rosary. It was kind of an altar, but it was very Catholic. And for me, really reclaiming some more ancestral practices that are separate from the ones that were passed down by colonization has been really important for me to share with them too. Just passing on more traditional, indigenous cultural values has been really important to me. And they understand that because I have a good relationship with my kids and they’re open to it because of it.
FOR YOU, WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART ABOUT WORKING TO BETTER THE PARENTING OF THE LATINX COMMUNITY, AND CREATING A SAFER ENVIRONMENT FOR ITS CHILDREN? THE MOST CHALLENGING?
Just hearing the stories about how people are doing this and how people are ending chancla culture and how this is actually happening. I always tell people, ‘I’m not there with you when you’re with your kids. You can use me as a resource, but, ultimately, you are the one doing this.’ So, hearing the way that people have transformed their ideas of looking at their relationships with children feels so good. One woman told me once that she used to hang up chanclas throughout her house like a crucifix. Which, to me, is a very powerful thing. And she said that she stopped because she ended up getting therapy. It had nothing to do with me, but just knowing that that is happening, that people are changing, that there is a cultural evolution happening. We were able to integrate the past, present, and future. Hearing those stories, I’m just so proud. I’m so proud of where we are as a community and where we’re going as a Latinx community. I’m so excited for the world that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to grow up in if we keep the commitment.
Running a business ha] been, honestly, the most challenging part. Being disciplined in running a business, being gentle with myself when it’s not perfect, and just allowing myself to have grace and patience in this process. That’s been challenging. Like, ‘I can talk about this all day, but I still have to get back to my bookkeeping at some point.’ I have to pay taxes, I have to pay rent for the state I’m in. Those things are what I feel are challenging for me and I’m working on meeting that challenge by setting up a system of support and my team to be able to take those things on for me so that I can just show up and do what I do best.
WHY IS HAVING RESOURCES SUCH AS LATINX PARENTING SO IMPORTANT FOR LATINX FAMILIES TO HAVE AVAILABLE? WHAT ARE SOME ADDITIONAL RESOURCES?
Because it’s about the world we’re creating. We’re planting the seeds for trees that our future ancestors will get to sit on, and I find that to be everything because we are the demographic that is growing up more than any demographic. So, if we don’t pay attention and if we don’t access the resources, that’s going to have consequences that may create more hurt than healing.
I would like people to check out Latinx Therapy, Latinx Grief, and raisingreaders on Instagram. I would love people to check out Parenting Decolonized, which addresses Black families. And I would like people to support artists because I feel like art is such a big part of this movement too and showing what feelings can look like through visual art is big and so inspiring. There are so many people that I’m very grateful and privileged to be in community with.