This is the July multicultural blogging carnival and it is hosted by Stephen of Head of theHeard. The topic is Hidden Opportunities, and so I thought I’d share this post.
You know how you sometimes tell yourself that you will never, never, ever let your child eat sweets or play video games? And then find yourself doing just that? Or you decide to limit their screen time only to find out that sweets and video games are all they want?
I’ve been thinking about this and found that raising multilingual children is no different. I wanted my home to become a safe haven for our minority languages. I wouldn’t allow any Dutch at home, I would yell at anybody who would mix languages with our children and always said: “It is not our responsibility to teach our children Dutch”. Fast forward 2 years later and I find myself singing songs and nursery rhymes in all the languages I speak, even in English.
In short, I went over to the dark side (or should I say the Dutch side?) and allowed all these evil things such as sweets and screen time (which of course happened as well). However, I also became much more relaxed about all these strict rules that in fact were more debilitating than they were helpful.
I’ve been reading so much about reducing screen time, and found myself confronted with even more rules about consistency and being strict and saying “no”. Luckily, I found an approach that better suited my needs: the scarcity vs. abundance approach.
The reasoning behind this is as follows: if something is scarce, everybody wants it. This creates conflicts and anxiety. This is why when you limit screen time or sweets (or the majority language), it becomes scarce and hence desirable. However, if you show your child that technology, sweets and the majority languages are just one of all the cool things we can do, that they are normal, this gives the impression of abundance and takes the pressure off the children.
Especially with languages, rather than concentrating on not speaking a language (scarcity), we can better focus on the abundance of languages, and that the majority language, which is also a part of our children’s identity (I can’t stress this enough!) is just one of all these awesome languages the children can speak. This is why I now allow Dutch in my house and marvel in how well my children speak it.