Today, in honour of UNESCO’s Mother Langauge Day (Feb.21st), I would like to present the 3 most fundamental reasons why I decided to stick with my mother tongue (i.e., Japanese) in raising my children.
1. Because I want to feel comfortable around my children
Although I am bilingual in Japanese and English, Japanese is the language of my heart. Not being able to communicate with your own children in the language that you are most comfortable with can be tragic in the long run.
Sooner or later, my daughters will speak better English than I do. So why bother speaking in English with them? For the sake of my dignity, I believe speaking in the language that I know better than my children is important.
As my girls grow up, it is expected that there will be complicated issues that we need to deal with. And I want to be able to communicate with them in my mother tongue in those times. As there is a saying, small child small problems, big child big problems, when the big problem comes, having two languages we can utilize as a family team will be a great asset for us.
Oh and I want to be able to laugh together with my girls when I am watching Japanese comedy! So sad if I can’t do that.
2. Because fostering grandparents-grandchildren relationship is important
Like any grandparents, my parents love their grandchildren. I want my parents to fully enjoy their relationship with their grandchildren, especially when they only get to see each other once a year.Grandparents have stories and wisdoms to pass on to the younger generations. It is a shame if my children cannot learn from them just because I gave up on bilingual parenting.
Furthermore, maintaining strong ties with grandparents, and having access to family history will help my children build a solid sense of who they are. In the future, just like many Asian Canadians, my daughters may feel as if they never fully belonged to the Canadian society. On such occasions, knowing their roots will surely help my girls explore their identity.
3. Because my children will be thankful someday
When my daughters are older, they may become interested in traveling around Japan, or living and working in Japan. And knowing the language will be a great asset. If they feel the need to learn more Japanese, they can always get serious about it because they already know the basics but learning Japanese from scratch as an adult will be quite challenging.
So there you are my three most important reasons for parenting my children in my mother tongue.
What about yours? I would love to hear from you!! Please leave a comment or write me a message from the righthand sidebar!
Have a wonderful week!
*A picture from 1.5 years ago. My mother teaching my daughter how to read Japanese.