This may be a very silly question, but here goes...
What 'parent names' do you use with your kids?
I'm a British woman with a French husband and we're trying to use OPOL with our 10-week-old baby son. It seems natural that I should be 'mummy' and my husband is 'papa' (as per our respective languages) but we're having a really hard time sticking with this. When I speak to the baby (in English) 'daddy' just trips off the tongue so naturally, and it's the same for my husband who keeps saying 'maman' instead of mummy as he speaks in French.
We're trying to correct and train ourselves and I guess we need to just stick with it because otherwise it's very confusing for the baby if we are referred to differently in different languages - right? But we're finding it hard! Does anyone have any advice or experience to share? I'm very curious.
Is this a stupid question? Am I overthinking this? This newbie to the world of bilingualism would love your thoughts.
Welcome to bilingual parenthood where we do our heads in with every language detail! lol
I had the same problem and eventually gave up! lol And my daughters don't seem too confused (5 and 1 1/2).
The only thing my eldest got confused with was her Dad saying "Mami" and "Papi" in Spanish for Mum and Dad when in French these words mean granny and grandpa. I did step in a few times to remind him how confusing it was so he then favoured the use of "Mama" and "Papa" (he now uses both options).
My eldest now fully understands who is being referred to depending on the language being spoken (when she just turned 4 the penny dropped and she knew which language was which and with whom she used each); plus the differing stress and accent depending on the language used.
You know, bilingualism is not a very "neat" business. In fact, it is rather all the contrary!! It is always messy at the beginning but over time the child outgrows the messiness. Though children are not as "ignorant" as some might believe them to be, they just need time to learn and understand. And after all: 1) in life there is often more than 1 word for things, 2) baby will eventually learn these different words in all their languages.
You are right in wanting to be consistent, but don't beat yourself up too much if you slip. Remember that sometimes the tree hides the forest.
Hope it helps.
***"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - Oscar Wilde***
Agree with Amy - it's messy, and in the end the child decides!
We decided to go with plain "papa" and "maman" at the beginning, because my daughter was born in France and my husband felt more comfortable with papa, and I didn't really care, especially as it's sometimes used in English anyway ("papa", not "maman" of course!). Given that all the drs, care-givers etc were saying "maman" I just went along with that (I should note that our household language is French). It's the one exception I make when speaking to my daughter - I say "maman" if referring to myself (well, now she is almost 3 I don't need to refer to myself as much in the third person!). Other than that I always speak in English to her.
HOWEVER, as we moved to Latin America when she was 11 months and lived there until very recently, she picked up on "mamá", which is now what she says. This is sometimes mixed with "mami" and "papi", which as Amy said does create a bit of confusion because they mean "grandma" and "grandpa" in French. But generally speaking we just muddle through and it somehow works out.
The one thing is that my mother (Australian) seems incapable of remembering to say "papa", so she often receives blank stares when she uses the term "daddy", and of course "mummy" sounds like "mami".
Overall I think you should go with whatever feels most natural!
We're an OPOL family too and frankly, I never thought about this. I refer to both of us in ml and ML Daddy refers to both of us in ML. So when I speak I'm Mama and he is Papa with German pronunciation; when he speaks, I'm maman and he is papa with French pronunciation.
With grandparents, we handle things differently, however. The French grandma has requested to be called "nanie", so she is Nanie no matter who speaks. For the ml grandparents, we go with the most common ml terms which are what I called my own grandparents, Oma and Opa. Again, these are used no matter who speaks. (I guess you could say we use these as if they were names.)
I wouldn't worry too much. As Amy said, your kid will figure out that there is more than one word for the same thing. Our daughter figured out that mommy has one language and daddy has another language when she was not quite 2½. I wrote a short blog post about it here.
I have been having similar questions regarding how to refer to the parents in two different languages (I speak Russian and my husband speaks English). My original hope was that my husband would be called "papa"- the Russian word- no matter the language, but that was his name for his grandfather so his preference was to be called "daddy". I have found it difficult to insert "daddy" in the middle of full Russian sentences when I speak to my almost 6-month-old daughter. I have since settled on referring to him as "papa", and occasionally- for example, when he is approaching us or when I am about to hand her off to him- calling him "daddy"- for example, "вот идет (here comes-in Russian) daddy"! I hope that as she grows up, she will associate both words with him and they could be interchanged depending on whom she is speaking with.
I can understand that you're questioning this! When our daughter was just a few weeks old, my husband and I talked about this and he decided he wanted to be called Daddy (even though German speakers say Papa) and it was important to me to be Mommy). It took a bit of getting used to, mostly for my husband, but it's like anything you have to practice (for example, it took practice for me to narrate everything to her and now I can't stop even when I'm by myself!). Now it's totally normal and my daughter (27 months) says Mommy and Daddy no matter the language. She has gone through phases of saying Mama, Papa, and even using my first name 😬, but we just continued with Mommy and Daddy and she switched back.
This was not an issue for me in the beginning because we use the ML@H approach, so both parents speak to our children in the ml. But, all grandparents speak Spanish to them. We call them "grandpa" and "grandma", and they refer to each other as "abuelo" (=grandpa) and "abuela (=grandma). My 4-year-old daughter uses the ml terms with me and her dad and the ML terms when speaking Spanish; no confusion at all. When she was little, she only called them "grandpa" and "grandma", but then again, everything she said was in English (ml) until she turned 3.
Even though we didn't have a problem with this, I kind of did with my eldest with her name. Both my children happen to have names that are spelled the same both in our ML and ml, so they can be pronounced either way. I felt that pronouncing everything in the same language (ml) felt easier than changing accents in the middle of a sentence, but I was always afraid of confusing her if we called one thing and everyone else something different. With my youngest, I went with the ml pronunciation, which feels easier to me, and my husband with the ML one. He understands both as his name. The funny thing is that everyone at nursery school calls him using the ml pronunciation, which sounds silly to me, as they're speaking in the ML, but I hope to change that when he starts school!
Interesting topic...we never really thought about this issue. To my daughter, I'm Mama (which works in both English and Mandarin), and one day she decided to call my husband Beeeeee (which doesn't make sense in any language) and it stuck so we gave up trying to change it to "Daddy". She calls my parents Ah Gong and Ah Ma (grandpa and grandma in Taiwanese Hokkien), my brother Jiu Jiu (uncle in Mandarin), and my husband's mother Yi Ma (grandma in her local Malaysian dialect) and my husband's brother Yi Ba (same dialect). It sounds like a confusing jumble of various languages, but somehow they all fit in our conversations very naturally.
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