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Hi! I'm hoping for some advice! :-)
Despite having limited contact with me, as I work full time, I believe my toddler son is well on his way to being bilingual. He sees me speaking Portuguese with others around us, incl. his father, but I only address my son in English. He has a great vocabulary already at 20 mos. He knows the words for many things in both languages. Some words he only says in Portuguese. (e.g. If I say, "Would you like some water?" He says, "Água!" But with other words he uses the appropriate language as necessary (e.g. Says "more" to me, but "mais" to his father.) Here's my dilemma. I've always hoped that my son would call me Mommy, I guess ever since I was a little girl I figured someone would call me Mommy one day, maybe that's silly. Anyway, my son only calls me Mamãe (the Portuguese word for Mommy). I am constantly asking everyone around us to help me by referring to me as Mommy, but they usually forget, even my husband. When I ask my son, "Where is Mommy?" He points to me. But when I ask him, "What's my name?" he says, "Mamãe!" Every time he calls me Mamãe, I gently, but insistently say, "Mommy/My name is Mommy/Call me Mommy". After months of this, my husband has started to tell me that I should give up, because he thinks I may be causing my son some kind of psychological distress, perhaps making him feel that I am rejecting him? The last thing I want to do is damage my son's psyche, for goodness sake. Any ideas? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated! 1. Country you live in: Brazil 2. Languages the family speaks: Mother is native English speaker. Father is native Portuguese speaker. Both speak fluent English and Portuguese. 3. Age of the child: 20 mos. 4. Language system: OPOL
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Well done on your 20 mths. son well on the way to being bilingual. It's not easy - but it pays off! My boys are now 9 and 12 y.o. and tri-lingual. Im Danish, my husband is English and we live in Spain. I do NOT agree with your husband - you should not give up. On the contrary, it's important you that you make the change asap. And to do that you need help from all your friends and your family! To be honest with you, I think it downright rude of them to "forget" to call you Mommy when your son is around. This is important to you - I would not like my sons to call me anything but Mor (Danish for Mum). I had the same problem - smaller scale though - as my English mother-in-law refused to call me Mor and insisted on Mommy. That is untill I started calling her the Danish name for Granma! Im sure your husband wouldnt like for you - and therefor your son -to address him as Daddy. Tell them how important this is to you and ask them to help you by not "forgetting"! Good luck to you, Mommy ;-) PS: I doubt very much your son will suffer any traumas at all - you sound like a responsible and very caring parent, so I wouldnt worry! Caroline
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Thank you for your kind support, Caroline! I'm happy to report that, my "hard work" paid off!
I couldn't understand why he wouldn't call me mommy, being that he was totally capable of making all the necessary sounds, and being that if I asked him to point out Mommy in a photo, he would point to me. So, one day I said, "Can you say Mommy?" And he said, "Mommy". Then I said right away, "And what's my name?" And he said Mommy! It was a beautiful moment between us, because I could see that he felt very proud. He just beamed at me and I kissed him and hugged him tight. He must have noticed that I was trying to change something about the way he refered to me, and he must have known it would make me happy to do so. Anyway, he calls me Mommy about 90% of the time now--and I don't hear any more unsensitive comments from my husband and his family! Thank you once again for your support! All the best, Anna