Leslie Priscilla of Latinx Parenting is determined to do her part to stop generational trauma in the Latinx community. The child development specialist and early childhood and parent educator from Santa Ana, California was moved to “be the bridge” between her mostly Indigenous Mexican culture and certain ways of parenting, and she set about the task of understanding why generational trauma is so prevalent in Latinx communities. Leslie intentionally began to learn more about what she now describes as “Chancla Culture” and the trauma that comes a result of it even though it’s often joked about and common in memes. She launched Latinx Parenting in 2018 as a culmination of all the knowledge she had obtained through school, her work experiences, and her own personal research.
“I was trained in a curriculum that gave me the ability to share information on child development and nonviolence, and I began incorporating information about our history so that the parents could see that the violence we sustained as children was not deserved, nor did it belong to us,” the mom-of-three tells HipLatina.
Leslie has a deep understanding of her family’s history and says she grew up witnessing the effects of the “pain and suffering,” that many of her family members have experienced, particularly related to migration, racism, fear of deportation and other social stressors. “My mom did her best to parent differently than her own parents who were physically abusive, but she did end up hitting me not only with her hand but with whatever items she could find at hand,” Leslie tells us, explaining that her mom still has scars from being beaten with a horse whip by her father.
“Though it wasn’t frequent that she would use items other than her hand, I still remember being hit with things like ganchos which left a mark,” she says, noting that most often though, she was disciplined with what she calls, “verbal and emotional chancletazos.”
When it came to her own children, who are now ages 10, 4, and 3, Leslie knew that she had to do things differently so that they would not feel the disdain and apathy she felt towards her own mother by the time she reached her teen years. “I always say that knowing how I did NOT want to parent — because of what had been modeled — was what drove me to become passionate about the learning the ways that I would want to raise my children.”. She adds that her studies in psychology in child development supported her commitment to be a “safe space” for children.
By the time Leslie was pregnant with her first child, she had started learning about attachment parenting. “I had a homebirth with my first child, was breastfeeding, was co-sleeping, babywearing, and doing all the ‘crunchy’ mom things, and yet I only found a handful of other Latinas through that group that were doing the same.” In searching for support as a new mom, she had started an online group for moms called OC New Natural Mamas.
Armed with books like Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel and lessons from her spiritual counselor and her therapist, Leslie says she learned how to “rewire” her brain so that she didn’t have to pass down her own trauma to her children and was ultimately laying the groundwork for the “reparenting framework” she now teaches via Latinx Parenting. The parenting advice she was looking for as a Mexican American was nowhere to be found in parenting books or even online media at the time.
“Whenever I would google things like ‘Latino parenting’ or ‘Mexican parenting,’ I would be hit with thousands of videos and memes of la Chancla,” she says. “Something about this didn’t sit right with me and I wondered to myself why there wasn’t a better bridge between parenting with nonviolence and my culture.”
With her educational background, work experience, and experiences as a daughter and a mom, Leslie felt equipped to launch the #EndChanclaCulture movement. Throughout her research, Leslie came to realize that chancla culture didn’t really develop until the start of European colonization in Latin America, about 500 years ago.
“Indigenous cultures had and have ways of being that are collaborative, but colonization was such a great disruption to the more harmonious ways that existed prior, and unfortunately we adapted oppression into our homes and our families. We did this out of a need to survive, as our Black relatives did,” adding that this was a turning point for her. Fast forward to 2022, and Leslie is now teaching Latinx parents and professionals in the education and healthcare fields how to interact with children in a way that prioritizes gentleness and mutual respect, fosters healing, and decolonizes parenting practices.
Through Latinx Parenting, Leslie offers a number of seminars, courses, and workshops on topics including self-healing, reparenting, setting boundaries, and non-violent parenting, many of which are available online, some of which are exclusive to Latinx/a parents. But for those who for whatever reason, cannot take any of Leslie’s courses, she regularly drops parenting gems on both Instagram and Facebook, where she has 172,000 and 53,000 followers respectively.
Leslie tells us that ultimately she hopes to use her business and her platform to foster supportive communities of parents. “This is the way I see forward in healing our cultural and personal wounds, and eventually replacing toxic and oppressive systems with new ones in which we, as a people, are liberated and held,” she says. “We are transforming the culture of parenting by educating, advocating, envisioning and inspiring families to end the cycle of violence towards themselves and their children through the practice of nonviolence, self-reflection, connection, and community wellness towards liberation and thriving.”
With an awareness that Latinx parents desire strong, deep relationships with their children that don’t conflict with their cultures and identities, Leslie hopes to provide a place of both knowledge and encouragement to those of us committed to doing what we can to prevent the physical, mental, and emotional health problems, that many of our ancestors — and ourselves — have endured, at least in part because of post-colonial parenting practices.
“My children are evidence — and there are others out there who can echo this — that you can raise children with respect, and gentleness without fear, and that kids will grow up to be empathetic, intelligent, and well-rounded people.”