I am a great believer that we all learn through our mistakes. But saying that, there is still a great part of me that tries to avoid them if I can. At least some of them.
I am also a great advocate of going with the flow. With kids you kind of have to. ☺
When it comes to bilingual parenting, I have over the years observed certain crucial things, let’s call them common mistakes, that bilingual parents make when it comes to raising a bilingual baby:
- They are not consistent.
- They have no plan.
- They haven’t really spoken to their spouse or partner about their wish to bring up their child bilingually.
- They don’t know why they want to bring up their child bilingually.
- They haven’t made their wish a priority.
Let me explain:
Getting your priorities right…
If something is not your priority than it’s not very likely that you’re going to do it.
If something is on ‘your list’ under ‘maybe’, ‘when I get the time’ or ‘let’s see what happens’ than the chances are… You know where I am heading.
This applies to bilingual parenting with no exception.
Raising a bilingual baby is definitely not something that just happens under the category of wishful thinking.
You have to MAKE IT PRIORITY (5.). Otherwise you’re gonna miss the boat.
Your real wishes and whies
How can you make raising a bilingual baby a priority?
How does something become a priority?
How CAN YOU make something a priority with not much fuss?
Well, you have to know how much you really want it.
Really, really. You must REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want it.
And you must know WHY.
WHY do I really want my child to be bilingual?
What does it mean to me that my child will speak to me in my language?
How will it make me feel if I see and hear my child speaking my language?
How would I feel about my child not being able to speak my native language?
Just get your whies out of your head, write them down on a piece of paper.
Give yourself some time to think about it.
Ask your whies, because only if you know why you want something you will GO and GET it (4.).
But there is a little catch here, or rather big catch, sorry:
Every child has TWO parents. You know where I’m going with this.
You HAVE to speak to your spouse or partner about it.
You absolutely have to speak your mind.
Especially if he or she doesn’t speak or understand your native language that you want to teach your child.
As I said before, I am an advocate of going with the flow, but not in this matter.
You don’t want to ‘see what happens’ when it comes to raising a bilingual baby.
It will pay off big time to have the discussion. Or rather discussions.
Speak about your whies, explain them (3.).
Your partner is the most important support you can get, the key to your bilingual parenting success. You can read more about it here.
Once you have ‘spilled the beans’ and got it out of your system, it might take time for your spouse to digest it.
After all, he or she might be coming to terms with the fact that he/she won’t understand what you’re saying and what your child is saying.
This can be a HUGE hurdle that your partner has to overcome.
So be nice and give them some time.
In the meantime, you can start making a PLAN on how you’re gonna go about teaching your child your native language.
HOW are you going to do it?
You can do some research on raising a bilingual baby… as we digital parents do.
FIND OUT how others have been doing it, and what results they’ve got.
LEARN from other bilingual parents’ experience, good or bad.
Think about what YOU would like to do and make a PLAN, because… If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up elsewhere. (2.)
Once you’ve made a plan, discussed it with your other half and when your child arrives STICK to it.
The rule no. 1
BE CONSISTENT (1).
Stay consistent 99.99% of the time. Or around that mark. No matter what.
At least in the first 3 years of your bilingual baby’s life.
If you are not consistent enough, your bilingual baby will get confused and won’t follow your ‘rules’. And guess what, he or she will soon come up with their own rules.
So who rules? Or whose rules? (Kids, bilingual or not.)