My boyfriend and I have been together for a long time and marriage is in the very near future as well as probable kids. I am white and my boyfriend is Hispanic, and he speaks both fluent English and Spanish. He has recently said that he wants his future children to learn Spanish. However, this makes me worried. Most of his immediate family speaks Spanish and they hardly include me in conversations. So I worry that if it happens now, it will only be 10x worse when it is in our household with the kids and my connection to them won’t be as strong.
As a child of immigrants I ended up bilingual pretty much by default. My parents are from Taiwan and China, so I grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese with them and speaking English with my older sister and at school. Although I dreaded going to Chinese School on Sundays as a child, by the time I left for college I recognized the benefits of being bilingual and I knew even then that I would want my future children to be the same.
Though babies are not yet on the to-do list, my husband and I have been thinking about what having a child would mean. One of the things that came up is language — my mother tongue is Dutch and both my husband and I agree that I should teach our kids(s) how to speak it as well, so they can communicate when visiting my family and other advantages. The problem is… my husband doesn’t understand Dutch at all, save the odd word here and there. He won’t be able to understand us and has previously expressed discomfort and annoyance at not being able to join in conversations.
Every time Lio signs for the dog, or puts two signs together — like “dog” and “water,” then points at the dog’s dish to indicate it’s time to complete his chore for the day — I just melt. Or when he signs “please” and “shoes,” then sits down so I can take his shoes off before hopping up to scuttle off to try on a pair of dad’s sneakers? That’s baby gold, right there.
Ottawa is truly a bilingual city — it borders Quebec, and a large segment of the population speaks both French and English. There are also large portions of the population that speak exclusively French or English. We felt that our lack of language ability was definitely a hurdle to cross in that environment. We found out we were expecting our first child shortly after moving, and quickly moved to Gatineau, an almost exclusively French part of the country.
My husband has German as a mother tongue and we’re planning on him speaking in German to the future kids. While not pregnant yet, we’re tight on budget so we’d love to stock up on books slowly so we have one less expense when the time comes.
We did baby sign language classes with Seattle’s Visually Speaking, and it was awesome! Here are my tips on what I did wrong signing with Tavi.
Sometimes I feel like I am battling a one-woman war against the over-acronymification of women’s communities. This is something I’ve dealt with on the Offbeat Bride Tribe for years, but I think the acronyms in online parenting communities is even more intense.