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Family not comprehending that dd is bilingual

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I guess this is just more of a vent but I am curious if any other families don't get the whole bilingual thing. Dp and I have different mother tongues (we each speak each others language though). I only speak english to dd and he only speaks italian to her. So she is fully bilingual. My family can't seem to get that italian for her is just like english for them. They keep telling me I should "teach her" Italian and sometimes some other random language I don't speak. They act surpirsed that she understand the ils when they visit. When I tell them that it is her language too they still can't understand. My dad was up this weekend and he said some simple phrase to her in Spanish. When I asked him what he was doing, she won't understand that. He said its close enough. WHat!!! That is like me tell him something in German and saying whatever its close enough to english.

Does anyone else's family not understand the concept of being multiligual from birth? To me it isn't complicated but apparently for my fam it is. Ils get it though.
post #2 of 10
My family just doesn't seem to care, which is frustrating. I can't tell my parents anything about my daughters without them downplaying it - they make every accomplishment sound like nothing.
post #3 of 10
Bellabaz
Ma, che puoi fare? If they don't get it, I'm not sure there's much you can do.
post #4 of 10
My aunt once asked me when my first DS was born something like won't he automatically know Spanish (my DH is Peruvian) like he would carry it in his blood or something. I don't know how she worded it, but it was one of the stupidest things I'd ever heard.

Each of my DC now has different levels of fluency in each of their languages, but no, no one in my family really gets it or supports me in trying to give them every opportunity to be multilingual.
post #5 of 10
Sometimes I think some of my ILs don't get it. But their confusion is different from your parents'. They think it's a good idea that dd learn English, but they don't quite get that I need to speak it to her for that to happen. They thought it was odd when that I started speaking English to her right when she was born. When did they think I was going to start? Boh.

Some of them wonder how she'll learn Italian if I speak English to her. Seriously. We live in Italy and they're worried that she won't learn Italian! It's as if they think I'm hard-wiring her brain for English and I'm ruining it for Italian. They don't get that she will be fluent in both. But none of them is bilingual, so I think it may just be a hard concept for them.

Now that dd has begun to talk, I notice that her English words seem not to matter with some people. Yesterday my husband's aunt was over and was telling dd not to touch something because it was hot. Dd had actually already noticed it was hot, and even told the aunt that, but in English. So I told her, she knows it's hot, that's actually what she just said, and don't worry, she won't touch it because she's afraid of hot things. But the aunt just kept telling her not to touch it because it was hot. (She wasn't doing it to teach her the Italian word, just to keep her from touching it.) I don't know, maybe she just didn't believe me? But other times this person has acted as though dd wasn't talking yet even though we had told her she was saying some English words.

Dd is only 14 mos. and just beginning to talk, so I'm very curious to see how it will develop.

Maybe in time your parents will begin to understand.

BTW, the Spanish thing made me laugh. The first time my uncle met my dh, he kept trying to speak Spanish to him!
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the support ladies. Its good to know that my fam isn't the only family that doesn't understand it. No one in our families is bilingual either, so maybe that hinders it. I know its not a major problem its just frustrating having hte same conversation over and over. And seriously, you can't speak to dd in Spanish.
post #7 of 10
Maybe you should word it a little differently? For example, instead of saying, "Italian is her language, too," you can say, "She speaks only Italian with hubby." Something like that.

I grew up in a multilingual family. My dad spoke 2 and my mom spoke 3. With my mom I speak only one language, and with my dad another language. It's understood, of course, that we all speak the common language(s) when in a group setting.

Oh, another thing. When your family suggests that you "teach" your daughter Italian, maybe they really mean that you should just speak with her in Italian. English will come on its own. My parents say the same thing to me, but they really mean that I should speak with my daughter in our language and not just talk in English.
post #8 of 10
Mine isn't completely bilingual, but there was a time when some words were easier for her in either language. Agua for instance, when she asked me for agua and I answered her in Spanish giving her her agua, my MIL told me not to teach her babytalk!!! Everyone in the room gave her a look and said "She just said water in Spanish!"

She hasn't made any comments since!
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swan3 View Post
when she asked me for agua and I answered her in Spanish giving her her agua, my MIL told me not to teach her babytalk!!!
LOL
Ha, at least you could cut her some slack for that one though because it may have sounded like "wawa" (babytalk for water) to the nonSpanish speaker.
post #10 of 10
Hi!

I'm new to mothering.com, but I wanted to say hello. I'm very excited to find this multicultural families forum. My dh is also Italian and I'm American. We both speak Italian and English with our 2 year old dd. I'm not sure if our parents "get it" either, so I know what you mean!
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