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Reply with quote  #1 

My husband is from Argentina and I am from the U.S.  We live in New Jersey.. He is bilingual Spanish/English.  I can speak some Spanish, but am not fluent.  My husband only speaks Spanish to our 2 1/2 year old son.  I speak English and our babysitter (we both work full-time) speaks Spanish.


My son understands Spanish perfectly and will speak some, but seems to prefer English.  Often, he answers a question in Spanish in English.  His spoken Spanish seems to be lagging English with respect to grammar and vocab.


OUr problem is at night.  For a while, I put my son to bed and did most of the reading before bed.  Now, we both read to our son at night... books in Spanish and books in English, but he seems to prefers me to read to him in English.  He will take books out of my husband's hands and give them to me and say "Mommy read it."  When I try to insist that it's my husbands "turn" to read, my son cries and says "no, mommy! mommy!"  I try to negotiate with him ("taking turns") and I read to my son in Spanish, but my husband feels it's not really the same, because it's not as interactive.  My husband is distraught and feels like I shouldn't give in to my son's request b/c it undermines his efforts.  I feel like a "soft-sell" is a better approach and while I try to encourage my son to have us both read at night, I don't want to force it to the point of tears.  (My husband does read books to him at other times.)


Because I work full-time, I feel I'm always leaving my son and in effect saying "no" to him.  I don't want bed-time to be a fight too.  My husband feels angry and left out.  It's affecting our relationship.


Any advice?

Reply with quote  #2 
I really feel for your situation. It's a tricky one as everyone is in the right - Your husband just wants to make sure that your son gets to speak his language (it must be a bit scary for him that your son prefers English even though your child minder speaks Spanish to him as well. After all, once he starts school English will probably dominate anyway!). You just want to answer your son's emotional needs (which is most important, in my opinion) and your son just wants to connect to mummy at the end of the day!
Have you thought of making bedtime a family occasion? You could read the story in Spanish but with your husband sitting next to you to interject and make little commentaries as the story progresses. That way he would get to hear authentic Spanish and get the Spanish interaction while he got the cuddle with his mummy that he obviously needs. Do you think that that could work?
Reply with quote  #3 

Hi CJ. This is a tough situation, but I'm not sure it really has anything to do with the language issue.  I think you just have a toddler who wants a certain something, and you will have to try to negotiate with him and your husband so that everyone is happy.  You can't force your son to want to hear a story from his dad, just like you can't force him to eat his vegetables or fall asleep at 8:00 pm. Plus, it sounds like you are trying to change the routine that he has been used to for a long time--of course he is going to resist. Reassure your husband that there are plenty of opportunities for your son to hear Spanish--you said he reads to him at other times, so that's good.  Suggest setting up a different ritual, like reading spanish books before dinner time.  I absolutely agree that you should not make bedtime a fight--it's just not worth it.  Try to get your husband to be less sensitive to the issue.  Bedtime can still be a nice family time together, regardless of the language used.  I fear that making a fight about it or forcing Spanish on your son will only make him resentful of both your husband and the spanish language.  Finally, in my experience (my daughter is almost two years old), there are few things in a toddlers life that last forever.  It may be that right now he prefers you to read to him, but tomorrow it will be the other way around.  Keep asking him "do you want daddy to read now", and if he says "no", then that's really ok.  Daddy can make up for it on the weekend or at another time.


good luck.



Reply with quote  #4 

Hello CJ,

I am from Spain, and I have a 4 year old daughter and 6 year old boy. They were born in Spain, but we moved to the US 2 years ago. My husband is american, but speaks spanish very good. We use hte ML@h model, speaking spanish at the house always between us, we all talk in spanish, and no english allowed in the house, that is the only way we found works for us, so the children speak spanish, english, they are going to learn outside, no matter what!!! Some people, do not like that model, because my husband talks spanish wiht an american accent, ...or because it took a little longer for the kids to speak english perfect.... but now is amazing how they know to talk to us in spanish all the time. Still, my american husband, reads the School books with my son every night, he has to read 30 minutes for homework everynight, and of course, is english!!! So, you with your todler, do that, and your Argentina husband can do the spanish books, and your little one will enjoy as much one and the other, with time, If your spanish is pretty much, OK, I would recomend you do the Mother Language, at home, in this case, the father language, because they will learn english sooner or later too. I have a french friend that speaks french to her girls, but is very rarely that the girls respond to her in french, because she is the only one that talks french to her girls, the american husband, does not speak french.

Enjoy your bilingual family situation!!!Try to stablish what would work best for your family, every situation is different, this is what worked for me, I just wanted to share it. I am very thankful to my husband for helping me with Spanish at home....... But my daughter melts down when he sings the Sun SHINE to her everynight!!! ITs great.Good luck



2 kids

Live in US, born in Spain

Reply with quote  #5 
  I agree with Sarah that this is probably not really a language issue. My 2 1/2-year-old son has always been more attached to me than to his father, and doctors and other parents keep telling us that this will change, that he will go back and forth over his lifetime. Hasn't happened yet.
  We've found that it's important for my son and husband to have time together without me. Every weekend, they go out for a few hours with my husband's friend who also has a toddler. I get some time off, and they get some bonding time. Or, to bring this back to bedtime, can there be a part of the bedtime routine where his father is the "star"? My son and his dad usually take a bath together in the evening, and they have so much fun that it can be hard to separate them afterwards, if it's my turn to read a bedtime story. Sometimes we don't bother separating them and I have to skip my turn. (Darn. ;-) )
  Finally, can I make a plea for an update? Your original post was two months ago--a long time in the life of a toddler! How are things going now?
  Best wishes,


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