Getting a divorce is hard enough, but imagine having a child who is speaking two languages. If you’re a parent who doesn’t speak the other language, you might feel alienated or stressed as you try to understand your child. You may feel threatened because you can’t understand everything your ex says to your child.
While you both live in different homes and have your child at different times, the language barrier can still become a problem. So, how can you handle dual-lingual child custody concerns without offending the other parent? Here are a few ideas:
1. Talk about dual-lingual situations and how you’ll address them
If your child speaks Spanish, but you only speak English, it might be a good idea to talk to your child about speaking English in your home. Or, if your child prefers to speak Spanish, talk to your child about helping you learn. It might be beneficial for you and your child to study the language together so you can bridge the language barrier.
Talk to your ex about what you expect when you’re all together. It would be a good idea for everyone to speak a language that everyone understands while together as a family.
2. Encourage cultural exploration during certain times of day in your home
If you only speak English, but your child is bilingual, consider setting aside time for your child to talk to you about his or her culture. During this period, allow your child to speak the language you don’t understand and encourage the learning and understanding of the language. It may be difficult at first, but over time, you can learn more about your child and the culture he or she is part of by taking this time together.
It can be difficult to raise a bilingual child when you’re a single-language-speaking parent, but you can take steps to learn more about your child and encourage English use in the home or during certain situations. Your situation is unique, just like your child so you may want to talk to a professional about options they’ve seen work in the past.