Living in a multilingual house can lead to a variety of feelings: excitement, opportunity, connection to family and culture, as well as discouragement or exclusion.
These negative feelings shouldn’t be enough to shut the multilingual house down, though, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor aitaspanishdaughter felt caught in the middle when she supported her foster daughters in speaking their native language in her home, while her husband did not.
When her husband became increasingly unsupportive, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure what to do next.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for letting my daughters speak Spanish around the house?”
The OP and her husband compromised on language learning in their house.
“My husband and I have been fostering Maya (8 [female]) and Juliana (6 [female]) for almost 2 years and are in the process of adopting them.”
“Maya’s and Juliana’s first language is Spanish and both girls are more comfortable speaking Spanish than English and prefer to speak Spanish when they’re with us.”
“I’m not fluent in Spanish but I can usually speak to the girls in Spanish without any problems.”
“My husband, on the other hand, didn’t know any Spanish when we first started fostering them and he doesn’t want the girls to speak Spanish at home.”
“We came to a compromise that they’ll speak English around him but they can still speak whatever language they want to me and to each other.”
The OP’s husband eventually became tired of the compromise.
“This worked for a while but lately, he’s been getting frustrated if he hears me talk to them in Spanish.”
“The girls have copies of most of their books in both English and Spanish.”
“On Saturday, I took them out for a girl’s day and we got our nails done, went out to eat, and went shopping.”
“When we came back, the Spanish copies of their books were in a bag in front of the front door.”
“I asked my husband about it and he said he gave them away on ‘buy nothing’ since the girls have the same books in English and don’t need 2 copies.”
A serious argument ensued.
“I took the girls to their room to put their books and new toys and dresses away and started to get them ready for bed (we were out a little late so it was almost their bedtime).”
“After they were asleep, my husband and I got into a huge argument over him trying to give away their books.”
“He thinks it was justified because he doesn’t speak Spanish and thinks it shouldn’t be spoken in the house.”
“He’s now sleeping in the guest room and we’re not speaking except about the girls.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said the OP was absolutely right while her husband was the AH.
“NTA. Your husband is, though. Your daughters’ first language is Spanish and it’s an important and valuable part of their heritage.”
“He should be trying to learn the language himself, not trying to take their culture away from them.” – Arab_Arabicae
“It’s rooted in racism because if he thinks he shouldn’t have to learn Spanish but they should have to learn English, it’s because he believes English is a ‘superior’ language.” – bequietbecky
“NTA – You are working hard to make sure the girls you are fostering are comfortable and are supporting them in keeping in touch with their culture. You’ve even tried to compromise by agreeing that you’ll speak English around him.”
“Your husband is an a**hat. I know languages can be hard, but he’s not making any effort and because he doesn’t like it he has unilaterally decided it’s going to be abolished.”
“Tread carefully here, what your husband is doing can be detrimental to your foster children. It’s one thing to be stubborn and not learn Spanish, it’s another to abolish it and remove traces of it.” – No-Policy-4095
Others agreed and said language study was beneficial.
“Having him speak English only to them and you speak Spanish only would be a GREAT way to reinforce bilingualism for them. That absolutely will be to their advantage in the future.”
“As a part of that being able to read the same book in Spanish and in English would be excellent.”
“So the OP, definitely NTA. But her husband… major AH there.” – que_he_hecho
“Being bilingual will give them a very real advantage when it comes to schooling and the workplace. Their professional options will be greatly increased!”
“Your husband should be supporting you in this (and maybe learning Spanish himself), not trying to undermine you. You’re NTA, but I can’t say as much for him!” – Marzipan-Shepherdess
“Learning multiple languages is beneficial. Though it is correlated with a slight reduction in vocabulary in the primary language, there are significant improvements in general intelligence and ability to pick up further languages.”
“There’s a reason why most countries try to start second language acquisition early.”
“Also, don’t let your dreams be dreams. Even if you think you don’t have time, there are apps that let you do it in short 5 or 10-minute rounds once or twice a day.” – AntiChr1st
One Redditor especially sympathized with the OP’s husband, though.
“I wouldn’t be so quick to accuse the husband. It can be very frustrating to hear conversations all over the house in a language you do not understand.”
“You cannot join in the discussion, feel excluded, can’t join the fun, in short, you feel like a stranger in your own family. Put aside and ignored by refusing to include you.”
“There are two units there, not one. The husband who can only speak English and the mother and the two girls who seem to spend a lot of time speaking Spanish even within his hearing (which is going against the promise of speaking English around him).”
“The husband can be reacting to the feeling of being excluded.” – Renbarre
The subReddit agreed with the OP’s feelings of shock and anger toward her husband, pointing out not only the cultural importance of the language for her kids but the lasting benefits of knowing multiple languages, too. Though one Redditor spoke up for the husband, most believed he needed to let go of his insecurities and get on board with the language study.