Being the grandparent of a bilingual child

by | Oct 21, 2015 | Babies, Being the parent in a multilingual family, Family life, Grandparents | 0 comments

Being the grandparent of a bilingual child

Grandparenthood is a very current topic for me – having grandchildren feels like all childhood Christmases coming at once!

Apart from being so excited and happy to the nth degree, naturally, my thoughts also go to the language-rich environment our precious new family members are part of, and which languages will play what kind of roles in their futures.

One point is clear, the parents of the little one, my daughter and son-in-law, are the ones who decide which languages they want to use in the family. In this respect, I am no different from any other grandparent – it is not my place to say what they should decide. I support whatever decision they make and give my input only if asked for it. New parents have enough pressure without others coming with (no matter how well-meant) parenting advice.

As far as my choice of language with my grandchildren, it is Swedish. It’s the language which I still speak with my daughters on a daily basis – even after more than two decades of living in the UK. Swedish is emotionally a very important language to me. the fact that I am again reading the Moomin-books on a regular basis fills my heart with childlike joy, and I have sung again the lullabies I learnt from my own grandmother and mother. Unfortunately, I cannot see my grandchildren every day or even every week as there is a couple of hours drive between us, so we make the hours I can spend with them really count.

How do we nurture our relationship during other times? I don’t have to travel to another country to see my grandchildren, but I still make good use of all the excellent advice from this post about maintaining long-distance bonds with family. Interactive screen time has become part of our relationship. My grandchildren know how to video call me, so I am happy to receive frequent calls. Sometimes several in one day! We have had story times, sung and playde games together via the cyberspace as well as virtual babysitting with bedtime fairy tales and much more.

Although I sometimes feel that my work takes up most of my time, I always make time for my grandchild, and that it will actually be easy to do so. You always find time for what is important in life, after having grandchildren my priorities have been shaken up in a very positive way.

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