in , ,

Finnish Woman Stunned After Boyfriend Says It’s ‘Pointless’ To Teach Their Kids Her Native Language

RgStudio/Getty Images

Parents all seem to have slightly different feelings about the introduction of language learning into their children’s curriculums. Some are adamant about learning a second language from a young age, and others don’t think it’s that big of a deal.

But to be fair, most wouldn’t call language learning “pointless,” pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Reddit Fun-Alternative-888 recently heard this, from her boyfriend of all people, while they discussed future language learning.

After hearing his disdain, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure how to further approach the situation.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for insisting on teaching our future children my native language?”

The OP met her boyfriend while studying in the UK.

“I (23 [Female]) have been living in the UK for 5 years now because of studies and work.”

“I’ve been dating my boyfriend (24 [Male]) for four years and we’ve recently had a discussion about kids.”

“Let me preface this by saying that he’s British and only speaks English, while I’m from Finland, so my native language is Finnish, and English is only my second language.”

They didn’t see eye-to-eye on teaching their kids both of their native languages.

“I told my BF (boyfriend) that I want to teach our future kids Finnish so they can communicate with my side of the family.”

“He told me I was dumb for even suggesting it, saying it’s just going to confuse the kids, since we live in the UK.”

“He also said that there’s no point in teaching them Finnish since they’ll never use it, since it only has approximately 6-million speakers.”

“He said it would be hard for them and they wouldn’t be able to properly speak English if I confused them like that.”

But the OP had concerns. 

“Now, my parents don’t speak good English and neither do my siblings.”

“I also have cousins who live in Sweden and everyone in my family has a hard time communicating with their kids because my cousins thought there was no point in teaching them Finnish.”

“So from this experience, I already know that if I can’t teach my kids Finnish, they’re going to be alienated from my side of the family completely.”

“I’ve told my BF this and he still insists not to do it, it’s pointless, etc.”

“AITA For still wanting to teach my kids Finnish despite my BF’s points?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some questioned the quality of the OP’s future with her boyfriend.

“NTA but your bf sure is. You’ve told him that your future children need to speak Finnish in order to communicate with your family, and he’s responded that ‘it’s pointless’—what does that tell you about how he views your family and your culture?”

“You sure you want to procreate with someone who disrespects your culture and family like that?”autumn441

“My parents made sure that my siblings and I speak Spanish because both of their families are mainly Spanish speakers. It always makes me really sad watching my grandparents struggle to communicate with my younger cousins all Bc their mom is American and my uncle didn’t teach them.”

“NTA; OP needs to decide how important her family bonds are and whether she’s willing to sacrifice those for a guy who clearly doesn’t even respect her culture or heritage.”Genius_Chicken

“NTA. Definitely not the a**hole. My friends are an Italian/Indian couple. Their kids know a smattering of Indian dialects and Italian along with English to be able to communicate with all their family members.”

“I myself am multilingual and grew up speaking multiple languages and it would have been really embarrassing to visit relatives that I couldn’t speak to.”

“Kids often take a while longer to learn how to speak all languages but by the end of elementary/primary school, they usually have a firm grasp of all of them. And it is a matter of cultural identity and respect.”

“Why is he so quick to sacrifice your children’s connection to their cultural identity? Why are your traditions forfeited?”Not-A-SoggyBagel

Others shared how they felt they missed out on language learning to encourage the OP.

“I seriously wish I’d learned a second language early in life. By the time I was 10 and started learning French at school, my brain was already hardwired for English and just could not get the ways in which grammar and sentence structure were different, and I just never managed to have any kind of proficiency in languages other than English.”hauntedlullaby

“My parents are Vietnamese so I grew up only speaking it and never spoke much English. Well, the high time it comes to Kindergarten, my English skills were sorely lacking. I could communicate sentences but wasn’t the best.”

“Because of that, I was put into ESL (English as a Second Language). With my parents, they quickly panicked and tried to just teach me English in hopes of my grades improving. It also didn’t help that they were both working and didn’t have the time to keep speaking with me in Viet.”

“With all those factors, it was never the same. It’s really sad because I can barely speak a sentence now.”CardcaptorTomato

“I lost two languages. I was born in the Philippines and my parents spoke only English to us at home so we would learn it well. My sister’s best friend was Japanese and we learned a lot of it as well since my mom was semi-fluent in it, too.”

“Then we moved to a small town in the middle of the U.S. when I was young and my parents were used to speaking English at home and they wanted us to assimilate better, so we entirely forgot how to speak Tagalog and Japanese.”

“I’ve tried to relearn Tagalog multiple times, but it’s very difficult to get into the practice, especially since I live far from my family now.”

“My whole life, I’ve felt a lot of shame about not knowing how to speak it when visiting my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and there have been jobs I’ve applied for because they would bring me closer to my culture I am estranged from, and I didn’t get those jobs because I wasn’t bilingual.”

“I’m often broken-hearted about it because there are so many racist pressures my parents had to go through, and my lack of language skill is a reminder of that, at least for me. OP, please, please teach your kids your language.”eclipselips

The OP wasn’t convinced she should give up on teaching her future children her native language, and the subReddit wasn’t ready to let her give up, either.

Between staying in touch with their family and possible other opportunities in the future, it would be in the kids’ best interest to learn, despite the OP’s boyfriend’s proclamations of pointlessness.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.