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Guy Told Not To Sing To Niece In His Native Tongue Because It Will ‘Mess Up Her Language Development’

Photo by Picsea/Unsplash

When you child finds a life partner, it’s meant to be a joyous situation.

However that is not always the way.

One of the beautiful things about a union is the differences people share.

But some family and loved ones may not appreciate it all.

Case in point…

Redditor LivelyExpediency wanted to discuss his story for some feedback. So naturally he came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

He asked:

“AITA for no longer speaking around my niece?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“English is my third language.”

“I’m an immigrant, married into a predominantly white family.”

“I think I’m fluent enough.”

“I still have an accent and likely will for the rest of my life.”

“And sometimes I lose handle on grammar when speaking too quickly or when I’m stressed.”

“My in-laws are for the most part neutral about me, at least when I’m around.”

“However, there has been a few instances of them showing disappointment in their son for marrying not only another man, but an immigrant one.”

“Listing them would take too much space and isn’t completely relevant.”

“Just their existence is.”

“Husband’s sister, my sister-in-law, had her first daughter last year.”

“Now that the economy is stabilizing, she wants to go back to the workforce to help her family get back on track.”

“B[rother] I[n[ L[aw] was laid off and had to find lower paying job.”

“In-laws have been taking turns babysitting her daughter while she’s job-hunting, including husband and I.”

“We usually have her on Thursday afternoon, right before her nap.”

“Three weeks ago, while babysitting, M[other] I[n] L[aw] and F[ather] I[n] L[aw] came over to visit.”

“Niece was being fussy, so I rocked her in my arm and sang her a lullaby in one of my native tongues as I usually do while she’s being fussy in my care.”

“MIL didn’t exactly snatch her out of my arms, but it was a close thing.”

“She told me off for using ‘foreign languages that will mess up her language development.'”

“Like I said, this was the last of a long list of passive-aggressive behavior from her part.”

“So when husband’s ‘mom!’ did absolutely nothing as usual, I said that it’s alright, and that I just won’t speak around her.”

“So she doesn’t pick up my accent and mispronunciation and wrong stressings.”

“That’s exactly what I’ve been doing since then.”

“Whenever we have her over or if we’re visiting SIL or we met on a get-together, I only respond with a nod, a shrug, or a head shake, sometimes hum or other such noises.”

“Husband is upset, of course, but when I point out that MIL has nothing to complain about since I did that, he always shuts up.”

“A couple of days ago, SIL’s friend was visiting when we came over for dinner.”

“As usual, I became nonverbal while in my niece’s vicinity.”

“SIL’s friend noticed and (very politely) asked if it would be helpful if she signs while speaking.”

“I was honest, and told her quietly that I have an accent and don’t want to affect my niece’s speech.”

“Things were very awkward afterwards, rightfully so, and when we got back home, husband and I got into a very big fight over this.”

“He said I’m being childish, which I was… under the orders of his mother.”

“We haven’t spoken to each other since.”


Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA?:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors declared our OP was NOT the A**hole.

It’s a tricky situation.

Let’s hear some thoughts…

“NTA. Racist folks always get real awkward when confronted with their subtle racism.”  ~ hey-bish

“Dude, my wife is American and I’m not.”

“We live in my country but visit her family in the US several times a year.”

“I have never heard anyone making fun of my English or her using my language.”

“But trust me, if my family only made one comment it would be enough to go low contact until they apologized.”

“Second strike would be no contact.”

“The racist a**hole is not only your MIL, but mainly your husband for allowing it and not doing anything about it.”   ~ Thunder1an

“One of my sisters-in-law is from another country.”

“Her English is not perfect.”

“But since I can only say about 15 words in her language, I am nothing but impressed that she is so fluent in English.”

“Also, kids can deal with different accents.”

“My niece grew up from babyhood with her mom speaking her native language and her dad speaking English.”

“This did *not* delay her language development at all–even as a 2 year old she had a huge vocabulary.”

“And she knew who around spoke which language and would only speak English to me, while only speaking her mother’s language to her grandparents.”

“Listening to the occasional lullaby in a different language will not harm a baby in any way.”

“MIL is just a mean-hearted person.”  ~ krankykitty

“So I know English, French, and Spanish, live in the US.”

“Even though I speak Spanish 10 times more often then I do French, I’m 10 times more confident in my French. Why?”

“Because I learned it when I was a baby and don’t really remember learning it.”

“My accent sounds on point, only my vocabulary is lacking because of lack of use.”

“NTA and if you did reach your niece these languages at a young age.”

“And continue to practice with her, she will know it like a native as long as she uses it.”  ~ Bonecup

“My SIL used to call my daughter ‘krasivaya devushka’ (beautiful girl) when cuddling her, as a baby.”

“It was wonderful.”

“It sounded so beautiful and it made me so happy that they had a special way to bond, that was so natural.”

“I’m sorry you’ve been through this blatant racism.”

“Please don’t stop conversing with your niece! NTA.” ~ lucy_r_2000

“NTA really, you were doing what his mother told you to do, but really you should have been asking SIL.”

“Because the biggest point is that it is actually PROVEN to be HELPFULL to be fully immersed in multiple languages while the language center develops.”

“And speaking multiple languages while learning to talk is how you get a good palate that let’s you speak multiple languages fluently without a messy accent.”

“I really wish I had been.”

“I would love to be multilingual, but with my ADHD I would have %100 needed to be immersed to learn and not just occasionally hear my neighbor talk to his non-english speaking parents while we watched Voltron and ThunderCats.”

“College classes just couldn’t cut it.”

“MIL is a racist idiot and you were just trying to keep her from escalating (and being a bit of a AH to husband for allowing MIL to be racist and stupid).”   ~ Throwawayhater3343

“NTA, you’re not ruining her speak development by having an accent.”

“MIL is being racist by even suggesting that and your Husband should be more supportive of you instead of letting you get bullied by his mommy.” ~ SpaceAceCase

“NTA- Kids learn EXTREMELY fast.”

“Two languages won’t mess a child up.”

“It’s actually good for them (I know, crazy right?! /s) they’re just afraid the baby will grow up to be a decent human being, and not racist like they are.”

“Thank you for caring enough about your niece to sing her a lullaby.”

“Not many men that I personally know would be comfortable doing that in public.”

“And thank you for sharing your culture with her, it really shows hopes much you love her to pass this along to her.”  ~ QueenKeisha

“It didn’t get out of hand because of you.”

“Like you said, you were following what your MIL suggested.”

“No one seemed to care until they were called out, by who I’m assuming, was another white person.”

“You are NTA; your husband is.”

“Your MIL is. You SIL, BIL, etc all are, you are not.”  ~ vociferousgirl

“I think it would be amazing to have the opportunity for my child to be someone’s care that speaks another language.”

“I would also request that you only speak your native language with her.”

“Kids are capable of learning multiple languages at an early age.”

“MIL is ignorant and maybe racist.”

“You are a gift to your in laws and they’re completely missing what you have to offer.”

“I hope you can change your perspective of yourself and together with your partner, your in laws.”

“Again, you’re a blessing to them not an AH. Huge NTA.”  ~ laurathehara

OP came back with an update…

“Edit: Hello everyone, I’ve been reading as many comments as possible.”

“And I’m thankful for all your responses (there are just so many lol).”

“However, my SIL’s friend, the one who asked me if I would like her to sign to me, got in touch with me just now, asking if I’m alright because she’s concerned about the dynamic she saw the other day.”

“She was very polite and apologetic.”

“And the fact that this stranger asked me how I’m feeling before my own husband does gives me a lot to think about where my life has taken me.”

“I think the resolution to all this might not involve my niece after all.”

“I’m still thankful for your help, however, and it did help me clear my head a little more.”

Well OP you are in a predicament.

Reddit is here for you.

Hopefully you and your husband can work this out.

You and MIL? Good luck.