It all begins and ends with me: the heart of parenting

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(Photo courtesy of Barbara W, Flickr Creative Commons)

Last Thursday I had to excuse myself from E.’s bedroom. “Necesito un descanso,” I told her. I need a break.

What I didn’t tell her was why.

But, I could feel the anger swirling in my stomach. My muscles were tight. I needed to step away. I needed to take a few deep breaths. I needed a time out.

“Was that okay?” I asked myself. 

Processing the situation later, I realized, “yes, of course! It’s always okay, when you sense you’re about to lose your temper, to take a break.” 

I also realized that there was more going on.  

Because in parenting there’s always more. So much more. Continue reading

Is he a good baby?…& other questions about life with two children

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¡Feliz sábado, amig@s! And, happy September! (How is it already September?)

This summer has flown by as D. and I have been adjusting to being a family of four, finding our new normal. Baby J. is already nine weeks. Two months?!

These past two months have also afforded me time to reflect on my life as mamá to a toddler and infant with all of the well wishes, congratulations, and…questions I’ve gotten from friends and family. What’s it like with two?, I’m asked often.

I’m actually thankful for all of the questions because they’ve got me thinking deep and hard about my parenting. Today I’d like to share a few of the most common questions I’ve gotten over the past few weeks and then offer alternative ones that I think are more respectful and productive in how we view babies.

Since so many other parents and child experts have written more eloquently than I ever could on these topics, I’ve included links to articles and blog posts in case you’re interested in learning more.

I look forward to keeping the conversation going, friends.

Happy weekend!

Continue reading

Raising trilingual children {Family Fridays – an update}

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(Photo via Carissa Rogers, Flickr CC)

¡Feliz viernes, amig@s! We’re back with another edition of Family Fridays here on the blog, a series in which I highlight a different multilingual family from around the globe.

I’m so happy to have back again my dear friend J.K., whose family was the first to be interviewed for this series over a year ago. Originally from Korea, she and her American husband are raising their two (soon to be three!) children in three languages while living as expats in China. You can catch her first interview here.

Today, she gives us an update on her family’s language policy, shares challenges she and her husband have experienced in their six years raising trilingual children, and provides encouragement for families in a similar situation.

Be encouraged, friends!

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Continue reading

Letter from a reader: Transitioning to school & the minority language

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Hello, amig@s!

I apologize for the weeklong radio silence here on the blog. Can I be honest with you? I needed a break from writing. Blame it on the heat (or, the humidity here on the East Coast), the long days, or my “no-para-quieta toddler.” Anyway, the break did me good, and I’m back!

Today, I’d like to share with you a short letter I received from a mother raising her daughter in two languages. She expresses a concern I’m sure most, if not all of us, have experienced (or, will experience) at some point: what will happen to the minority language once my child begins school?

Although this is not an immediate concern for my husband and I, it is an issue we have discussed several times. So, below you will find my response (expanded for today’s blog post). I am not an expert on this topic, but do share advice that I have learned from other more experienced parents, as well as from research into language development.

Be encouraged, friends, and please share your own thoughts, too, if there is something I’ve missed!

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Dear Españolita,

“I have a soon to be 2 year old little one, who will start an (English Speaking) toddler school very soon. My husband and I are bilingual (Spanish/English) speakers. We have raised our daughter to know/speak Spanish only. She throughly understands and speaks it so well. We have a fear now….a fear that she will lose interest in speaking Spanish or prefer to speak English only. Since she will be attending an all English school, are there any ideas you would suggest we practice?”

Hi!

From what we know through research (Welsh/English, Irish/English, Bilingualism and Children/Parents) and experience, the language of the majority culture and a child’s schooling (in your case, English) has a huge impact on the minority’s language, Spanish in this case. So, to continue to support and encourage your child’s use of Spanish I recommend the following:

  1. Remain an informed parent:

What does the research in bilingualism say?  What are the best ways to maintain your family’s language policy? How can parents best support their child’s dual language development? Do you need a good book on the topic? Check out some of my reviews here and here and here on the blog. Also, the resources page has a list of blogs and websites that I have found helpful in my bilingual parenting journey.

  1.  Remain consistent with your own language use:

This is hard, really hard. When the language we parents speak to our children is not the majority language, it’s challenging to remain consistent, especially in public. When we parent in a language that isn’t our native tongue, it can be difficult to refrain from switching to our first language, especially when we’re angry, tired, or sad. I get it. I feel it every day!

Fortunately, we’re working toward a worthy goal: that our children grow up bilingual. What an awesome gift we are giving them for the future. This encourages me to take it one day at time, to remain consistent with my Spanish, even when I’m mentally tired.

  1. Provide your child with opportunities to use the language with other speakers:

On his blog about bilinguals, researcher Dr. François Grosjean states:

“Older bilingual children and adolescents who become conscious of which language their peers speak may well reject a language (usually the home language) so as not to be different from them. An Arabic-English bilingual once wrote to me that as an adolescent he pretended he did not know Arabic. He continued: ‘I did this because I wanted very badly not to be different from the rest of my friends.'”

From this example above, it’s important to remember two points: 1) all bilingual children will, at some point in their language journey, hesitate or refuse to speak the minority language; it’s normal 2) parents can encourage their children to use the language by providing them with opportunities to use it with multiple speakers, particularly peers of the same age.

That is why I encourage parents to consider sending their children to bilingual schools, if they have the opportunity. Or, consider creating a neighborhood play group in the minority language (that’s what I’ve done).

  1.  Remain in regular contact with extended family:

Skype and FaceTime are amazing inventions! I make it a priority to video call family in Spain a few times each week. Also, consider saving your money for visits to the home country, instead of purchasing more toys.

I hope this has been helpful. Best of luck to you!

Hola, I’m Españolita, and this is nuestra familia (Family Fridays)

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(Photo via Carissa Rogers, Flickr CC)

Happy Friday, amig@s!

Fridays here on the blog are dedicated to a long-running series called Family Fridays: each week I highlight a different multilingual family from around the globe and/or a bilingual member of our world whose work influences and supports the work we bilingual parents are doing in the home. If you’d like to meet previous families and community members, please click on the link FAMILIES to the right of the blog.

So, today’s family is my family. I realized the other day that it’s been almost nine months since I began the blog and formally introduced my family to you all. In that time many new people have started following the blog (THANK YOU!), and so I thought it would be fitting to give you an update of where our family is on our bilingual parenting journey. If you’d like to read my first interview, you can do so here.

I hope you find encouragement today, friends. And, happy weekend! Continue reading

Adjusting your family’s language policy – part 2 (Family Fridays)

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 (Photo via Carissa Rogers, Flickr CC)

¡Feliz viernes, amig@s! Today I’m excited to bring your part 2 of a special installment of Family Fridays: adjusting your family’s language policy. (You can read part 1 here.)

Three multilingual blogger mamás share their experiences with making a changes to their home language plan. We’ll first hear from Jen, who you may remember from this past Family Friday interview; Becky, who lives in Texas with her husband and five children; and, Maria, trilingual mom living in France.

If you and your family are considering adjusting your language plan, I hope you will find helpful advice and encouragement from today’s moms.

Happy reading, and happy weekend! Continue reading

Adjusting your family’s language policy – part 1 (Family Fridays)

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 (Photo via Carissa Rogers via Flickr CC)

Read any book or website on multilingual parenting and one of the first pieces of advice given to new parents is: decide on your family’s language policy.

The second piece of advice? Be consistent. Stick with your plan and get support from your extended family and community.

But, what that new parent might be hard pressed to find is advice on how, why, and when to change the original family language policy. Continue reading