From Mami Vloggers to Authors: Our 5 Favorite Bilingual Parenting Gurus
Whether she’s trying to improve the conversation around obesity or telling us how to raise kids with higher self-esteem — a post that has been shared over 1,700 times — the bilingual mami blogger and content creator tells CHICA that “helping others makes me happy.”
Though she can be seen doling out advice on Good Morning America or Un Nuevo Dia, she is a prolific writer and doesn’t spend much time away from the blog, which is in both English and Spanish. She delivers a wealth of mami hacks: hair tutorials, mocktail recipes, tips for the very, very new mom — just about everything is covered.
Born in El Paso, Texas, and raised in Chile, Jeannette lives in Miami with my husband and two children, 12, and 15, “who are totally bilingual, which can be a huge challenge.” She writes about that challenge here.
Kaplun tells CHICA of the inspo for her work, “My kids have been my greatest teachers, because each day with them is an adventure, especially in the teen years. They also bring me the greatest joy.”
When asked to recall a post from the past that got a lot of attention, she mentions How Bullying Changed Me. “When I shared how I was bullied when I was 9 years old, I got so many messages from those sharing their own pain and struggles.” She even got messages from classmates who remembered the Jeannette getting bullied and who felt bad because they were bystanders. “[They] have tried to educate their own children to do better.”
JEANNETTE “JINNY” TORRES
The title is Ser Mamá: Como encontrar el balance… ¡Sin perder la cabeza!
The theme of Jinny Torres’s new book is as the title explains, finding balance, because that’s something that we constantly strive to do, even unconsciously: “Why? Because we are in a constant change, life is in constant change…and even when you think you are balanced, life throws you a curved ball, making you recreate a new needed balance.” Her inspiration is, almost ironically, the “day to day,” as she says.
The parent must accept and expect a certain amount of chaos or at least unpredictability. “First, we all know that what works with one child may not work the other child. And if we go even deeper, we know that what has worked with your child today, 6 months from now, does not work anymore.”
Motherhood has evolved, and there’s only so much wisdom to be gleaned from the elders. Technology is certainly an example. “I cannot call my mom and ask her what she did when me and my brothers were little and we were not talking at the table because we were ‘lost in translation’ in our cellphones.
JEANETTE "JINNY" TORRES
“In some areas, we don’t even have guidance or an examples to follow,” Torres explains. Thus the book is also about how the “21st century” mother faces new complicated challenges, including dealing with the “selfie generation.”
In addition to kids and personal tech, the book has tips on time management, imposing discipline, having difficult conversations and fostering values.
It’s also a shoutout to moms. “After all, the real superheroines don’t wear capes in their clothing.”
Ser Mamá is not Jinny’s first book. The brand ambassador and early childhood expert for Discovery Familia TV network (for Hispanic moms with young kids) coauthored a book with her sister, Dayanara Torres called “Marry Me,” which encouraging women to establish a healthy relationship with themselves.
MARITERE RODRIGUEZ BELLAS
Maritere Bellas literally wrote the book on Raising Bilingual Children. And she has been a big advocate for the cause. As she told CHICA, it’s never too early start exposing your kids to multiple languages — it’s a myth that it delays speech in children. Still have doubts bilingualism is good for kids? Read this post.
Beginning back in 1995, Bellas, who had a young son and daughter at the time, wrote a parenting column for one of the country’s biggest Spanish-language papers, filling a void for bicultural families for more than a decade. Now the iconic columnist has a website and blog, of course, full of ideas on the matter, and posts in both languages.
A post from February not only breaks down showing affection in different cultures but has an awesome throwback photo of her and her Greek-American husband. She also tackles general parenting topics like talking to kids about the death of relatives.
Bellas knows the intersection of kids and dual cultures, having explored it in her second book, Arroz con Pollo and Apple Pie.
MARÍA JOSÉ OVALLE
In one video we’ve watched repeatedly, the vlogger/actor switches back and forth from English-speaking teen to Spanish-speaking mom as she debates the pros and cons of going to Chile in July, wintertime, for the summer! She knows at her grandmother’s house down in the southern hemisphere she’ll be forced to eat: “Tell abuelita not to feed me so much food, last time she fed me so much I got sick to my stomach.” But there’s no drinking age!
MJO is indeed Chilean, as are her kids “Don’t let the blonde hair and blue eyes fool you.” It never hurts to remind people that Latinas come in all colors and shapes.
Her three kids appear to have a very fun mom, based on Ovalle’s vlogging and sponsored videos, like, “What’s New at Chuck E Cheese.” Ovalle wants to know, “Where’s the ball pit?” It’s a little irreverent and informative.
VeryBusyMama.com also has a slew of beauty and diet tips, as well as product reviews. Ovalle even has a disclosure section, #transparent!
Laura Fuentes wants to help busy moms achieve their health and wellness goals, knowing this will benefit the entire family. As she mentions on her Instagram tagline: “I don’t balance. I juggle.” In 2010, after ditching the corporate world to raise her three children — Sofia, now 12, Alex, 11, Gabriel, 7 — she created her blog LauraFuentes.com where she dished on cooking and tales of motherhood to friends and relatives. The response was such that the MBA holder launched MOMables, a meal-plan service, two years later.
Today she still has lots of recipes on her original site, but she is more interested in motivating moms to get organized and in providing “insights on how to make real-food healthy choices for your family every day.” She posts on everything from homeschooling and her kitchen re-design process to the results of her celery juicing cleanse and intermittent fasting (she has Instagram stories and videos as well, of course).
Laura knew no English when she moved to the U.S. from Spain at 15. Now fluent in both, she has a bilingual audience on LauraFuentes.com and a Spanish version of her website at LauraFuentes.soy. She also released a Taco Tuesday cookbook last August that was just nominated for a IACP award.
Fuente’s Spanish heritage is weaved into her parenting, and the kids are learning Spanish as part of their curriculum. Laura hosts an exchange student from Spain every year and her kids love having an older sibling around!
It took exhaustion and a health scare for Fuentes to realize that she had to add self-care to her daily menu. Now as she writes in her bio, “I’ve continued to flourish personally and professionally — simply by putting myself first. Sounds selfish? Maybe, but if I don’t put out the best version of myself out to the world, the people I love most also get shortchanged.”
It’s part of a lead by example philosophy. She tells CHICA: “Live out the story you wish to be told about you. In doing so, you'll become the example and role model your children need. Love and leadership is part of this balance. Seek happiness above all things. With your familia, in your work, and all aspects of your life.”