Hay Que Evitar (You Have to Avoid…)

by Melanie Edwards on September 5, 2011 · 5 comments

in Latino Culture, life

No more words Certain phrases you hear growing up seem to stick with you. Whether you tend to repeat them yourself or they just make an impact on you, some phrases constantly come to mind. “Poca mujer” is one such phrase. Another phrase I heard a lot was “para evitar” or “hay que evitar,” meaning “to avoid” or “you have to avoid” respectively.

The interesting thing about this phrase was how it was most often used by my mami. She was the one I heard this phrase from the most. She would say things like, “No dije nada para evitar,” “Me quede callada para evitar,” or “¿Hay que evitar, verdad?” (I didn’t say anything to avoid a problem; I stayed quiet to avoid an issue; You have to avoid, right?) This was usually in regards to a discussion between her and my father. Mami would hold back on speaking her thoughts in order to avoid an argument. She would then tell me all about it and when I questioned why she didn’t say anything to papi, she’d tell me, “Ya tu veras cuando te cases. A veces hay que evitar.” (You’ll see when you get married. Sometimes you just have to avoid [problems].”)

There’s something to be said, though, about constantly thinking “déjame evitar.” Sooner or later everything you avoid saying builds up and you end up lashing out like a bomb that exploded. Or perhaps you implode and end up feeling overwhelmed and desperate. Sometimes I think that maybe I should have told my mami, “No, no tienes que evitar.”

On the other hand, I also realize that mami may not have been so far off. Many of us hold back “para evitar.” It’s like that other phrase says, “you have to choose your battles.” Don’t we all do that? We choose when it’s worth an argument with our spouse, parents, children, etc., and hold back when it’s not.

Do you hold back sometimes para evitar? Or do you always speak your mind?

[Photo: katietegtmeyer]

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lee Reyes-Fournier September 6, 2011 at 2:41 am

I live by the motto: no dejes nada por dentro. Speaking your truth and being in integrity is more important than avoiding problems. As I have aged, gracefully mind you, I have developed some tact to go with this attitude. As my people say: No tengo pelo en la lengua. 😉


2 Nikki @ Mommy Factor September 6, 2011 at 11:07 am

when I was younger and i always spoke up, then learned most people dont want to hear what you have to say especially when it’s different then they want/expect.  now i pick and choose. i still think it’s important to speak up but you have to choose when and for what reason.  sometimes it’s really not worth it the argument just to have my day. other times it’s 110% worth it 🙂


3 Rachel White September 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm

I have heard this saying so many times and I have avoided many arguments.  This is a great saying. 


4 Daniela September 7, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I grew up hearing that saying and I must admit I struggle with putting it to practice. Ive learned that in certain situations it is best to think “hay que evitar.”


5 Lisa Perez September 10, 2011 at 2:45 pm

You’re so right. It’s weird but marriage is like that.  I avoid some topics (hello, money! – lol) just to avoid arguments.  It has saved me numerous times. I’m sure he avoided some stuff too — Sometimes you just have to.  Great post!


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