We should nurture our children, but we can’t rush nature. Like overwatering a plant, overnurturing too much in one way can drown out the fresh air and light needed for growth.
I wrote this in my journal when my first child was a baby. At that time, I was breastfeeding plus pumping around the clock “just in case.” My daughter didn’t need the extra milk, so I ended up donating 300+ ounces of extra frozen breastmilk. I also gave up too much of myself.
After suffering episode after episode of mastitis and clogged ducts, I made sure to avoid the same overzealous pumping mistakes with my second child.
But I’ve continued to make this mistake in other ways. I’m reflecting on how overscheduling our life is like overnurturing.
At one point last year, my daughter’s weekly activities included soccer, piano, swim, and ballet. During my childhood, my parents couldn’t afford extracurricular activities, so naturally, I wanted to support my child’s interests. Soon, we realized that we had signed up for too much.
Simplifying our schedule – including letting her choose to pause piano and quit ballet – was the right solution. It was her first lesson on how to turn down opportunities for something better.
We needed more unrushed connection and play.
Now I’m at a point where I’m considering dropping our kids’ third language, Korean.
Logically, I know all the things I need to do to support this important part of their heritage.
I know learning Korean is good for our children, especially since they are eager to learn.
I’ve written several guides on how to raise multilingual children, and I’m proud of helping other families succeed on this journey. My kids are fairly fluent in Chinese against all odds.
However, from an emotional and physical standpoint, I’m not sure that I can keep nurturing on my own.
- We no longer have help with Korean (our wonderful nanny transitioned to a new career).
- Their other minority language, Chinese, is already extremely time-consuming, especially since I’m learning with them with no local support.
- I’m tired of looking for online tutoring programs and researching Korean music, books, and videos by myself when there’s a million other things to do.
- My Korean American husband has long recognized that he does not have the bandwidth for this language & fully supports dropping it.
Alas, we cannot delegate Korean learning, so the burden falls on me. The guilt is heavy, but I am only one person.
As you know, I’m committed to being your number one cheerleader for teaching a second or third language at home.
Raising multilingual children is good for our world. When more people try, our support systems grow, and the process becomes easier for everyone.
But I also understand if you can’t.
Language is only one part of parenting. This might not be the right time for your family, and that’s okay.
Perhaps you can offer the bare minimum or need a complete break. Maybe starting or resuming the language isn’t worth it.
We need to preserve our energy for nurturing our children and fostering the love of learning in other ways. That’s good for our world, too.
Original discussion on Instagram @chalkacademy
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
Tips and Reflections on Raising Multilingual children
- Raising a Bilingual Baby: 5 Things Parents Should Do
- 7 Reassuring Facts About Raising Bilingual Children
- Raising Trilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent: 8 Lessons Learned
- Auntie’s Advice on Accents: Be Patient, and Take the Time to Listen