“She’s speaking a completely different language!”

by | Feb 28, 2013 | Being the parent in a multilingual family, Challenges, Family life, Grandparents | 0 comments

"She's speaking a completely different language!"

Any parent with a teenage daughter in the house has probably at some point had thoughts along those lines. But what if it is a grandmother thinking that? And what if it is actually true? How does it feel not to be able to speak to your granddaughter? How would this affect your daughter’s relationship to her grandparents and the rest of the family?

I have heard from both children and grandparents who have experienced this and they are without exception stories with a sad undertone. I am not saying that grandparents can’t bond with their grandchildren if they don’t share a common language, they definitely can – I have seen proof of that. Something is however missing.

The children have told me about the regret of not being able to share their innermost thoughts with someone safe and close, but not their parent. Grandparents often have more time than parents to just sit and listen. They are usually also not as quick to start offering advice – they have seen more of life and know that some things children have to find out by themselves. This is invaluable especially when children are a bit older, maybe in their teens.

Grandparents have told me how they would long to just hear their grandchildren tell them about their day at school. They are also sad that they can’t be there to read bedtime stories or tell their grandchildren about how it was when they were young.

Sorry, today’s blog is a bit on the sad side, but my point is this: as minority language parents we may only think about ourselves when we choose not to pass on the family language to our children, when we should really be thinking further ahead. Making a little bit of conscious effort by speaking your native language to your daughter, you are not depriving her from the opportunity of establishing her own relationships with all the family in the future.

May the peace and power be with you.


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