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.
Mayken: School starts again tomorrow. This year, exceptionally, 7yo will have all of her ml classes in 2 half days, instead of 1h/day. We'll see how that goes. (She's in 2nd grade.)
Sept 3, 2017 17:58:36 GMT 9
Amy: "Bonne rentrée" Mayken! Hope this new schedule will work well for your daughter though I have no doubt she will keep up her already excellent bilingual level
Sept 3, 2017 18:57:33 GMT 9
Mayken: Thanks Amy! Bonne rentrée to you too! My daughter has ml on Tuesday mornings (tomorrow!) and Thursday afternoons.
Sept 5, 2017 5:39:39 GMT 9
Amy: First Wednesday at home magic: ml2 bathed home and catching my 5 year old singing along her music player in ml2.... Bilingual bliss! Only you fellow bilingual parents could understand this
Sept 6, 2017 21:05:46 GMT 9
Mayken: Planning to send my daughter to ml school again during the next holidays. But it's ok, she's looking forward to it!
Sept 8, 2017 4:45:12 GMT 9
Mayken: We had our parents meetings with the ml teacher, my daughter will have a lot of work this year! One parent asked "which kids actually do speak ml at home?" Does that mean many of them don't???
Sept 13, 2017 5:02:26 GMT 9
Nellie: Mayken - my daughter is a lot younger than yours (just starting PS), but in her class there are two children with Spanish-speaking parents, but apparently neither of them actually speak it...disappointing!
Sept 13, 2017 6:28:10 GMT 9
Amy: Nellie, these 2 kids might simply be passive bilinguals, and as you know the penny might simply drop one day and they'll start using Spanish...
Sept 13, 2017 17:05:33 GMT 9
Mayken: In our ml class the kids are required to have a high level of ml. In class they only speak ml (this year there's a penalty for speaking ML!). I assumed they all speak ml with the ml parent at home. (I've known those kids for 2 years.)
Sept 13, 2017 23:42:56 GMT 9
Nellie: Yes I'm sure you're right and they are passive bilinguals! And they are young. I certainly hope by your daughter's age that my little one will be speaking ml1 with me - have already seen a lot of progress over the last week! The penny is dropping!
Sept 14, 2017 5:51:52 GMT 9
Patricia: Has anyone encountered studies, or personal accounts, of bilingualism (or multilingualism) playing a role in delayed speech?
Sept 15, 2017 1:31:58 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Patricia, please complete your Profile (see my "welcome message" for guidance), then post your questions to the forum boards. Thank you.
Sept 15, 2017 6:14:15 GMT 9