The Risks of Overnurturing with Multilingual Parenting

We Should Nurture Our Children, But We Can't Rush Nature

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 & 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 & play.

Related: Year in Review: Part-Time Homeschooling / Distance Learning with 6-and-3-Year-Old Kids

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 #1 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

Thank you for reading, supporting, and sharing this journey with us!

6 Comments

  1. Dear Betty,
    I am a mommy of a 10-month-old boy from Hong Kong. I feel so connected when I read your words and this is the first article I came across in chalk academy.
    The connection is so deep into my heart when you talked about breastfeeding with excess amount donated eventually. I don’t have much to donate but I have the same urge as you, to do the best for our babies. But, sadly, at the same time, this urge has sometimes overburdened us and led us to a burnout status. This will certainly do no good to kids. We simply cannot enjoy the time playing and just staying with them.
    Thanks for sharing your deep down reflections. This is the journey of motherhood. Can’t wait to read more of your sharing and cheers all the way!

    1. Dear Karen, thank you so much for taking the time to write and sharing about your family. I really appreciate it and hope the other posts can be helpful as well. We mamas are all superheroes and need to take care of ourselves when we can. Look forward to learning together on this journey <3

  2. We are bilingual with Chinese and I’m on my own to teach my kids. It’s very time consuming and I find time here and there so I’m not as consistent as I’d like. My thought for your children’s third language Korean is just try to maintain what they currently have with whatever tools you have (i.e. continue to play them Korean music on spottily…watch Korean cartoons, etc). Use the minima-lest effort for you so you can maintain what they currently know.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share <3 Yes, thankfully music exposure is relatively easy to continue. 🙂 If only there were more hours in the day!

  3. Your post is definitely making me re-evaluate our Kids scheduled especially my eldest daughter who is similar age as yours. We have multiple languages here and all of the teaching falls onto me (including Mandarin in which I do not speak – I’m Canadian born Korean who is also fluent in french). I don’t know yet how things will go or change and with 3 kids I am definitely stretched very thin. Thank you for this post and bible verse for my reflection. Also, if you consider selling any of your Korean or Chinese books and shipping to Canada would be doable again then I would be very interested since both of those languages are being taught in our home.
    Also I want to say that the pandemic has forced us to give up some of the extra curriculars that we are usually enrolled in and just enjoy life at a slower pace. Drives me crazy but it is also a blessing to spend more time together as a family (husband working from home and 2 eldest kids doing online school) whereas normally everyone would not see each other most of the time on weekdays. May you all stay safe and thank you for continuously putting out your thoughts, suggestions and opinions. Many blessings.

  4. I am about to teach my daughter Korean with no support. Thank you for your shared experience online. I’m not sure if you are still doing it or not but I’ll try to to read your blog and figure if you are.

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