03 January 2017

It's not about perfection! Bilingual Parenting Goals for the New Year!

I try to have an honest blog. Raising kids is not easy. And raising kids in a language which you do not speak natively can be downright hard at times. But I know it can be done. I'm not the perfect example of non-native bilingual parenting. I know there are plenty of families who do a much better job than we have done. But neither we, nor any other family, is going to do it perfectly. Each family has their own struggles, their own unique personalities, their own histories, and their own situations. No one is going to have a perfect family and no one is going to do a perfect job of raising bilingual kids. It's just not possible.
But, we can all do our best--whatever that is. It's January...a time to evaluate and set goals. I have plenty of goals swimming around in my head. Many of these goals relate to our non-native bilingual parenting attempt. January is a good time to think about how far we've come and where we want to go. I'm grateful that we have made the German language a part of our family identity. I'm often amazed that I have 8 kids who all understand and speak German (even if they don't do so perfectly). This week, I've been thinking about my goals in all areas of my life. There's a lot I would like to accomplish this year. Many of these goals are much more important than my children's foreign language development (for example, my family's spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being). But our bilingualism IS still very important to me me. If it weren't, we wouldn't have 8 bilingual kids. And it's important to have goals. Without some sort of goal, we don't have any direction. So that said, here are some of my non-native bilingual parenting goals this year:
  1. Continue to talk German to my kids, even when they speak English to me.
  2. Continue to do our German school once a week (where we learn to read and write in German)
  3. Continue to read German chapter books to the kids every night.
  4. Have the kids read from German books every day.
  5. Continue to expose them to French (have a French lesson at least each week)
In addition, I want to make sure that the kids have fun and continue to value their ability to speak two languages. Rather than force the kids to learn against their will, I want to take each of their unique personalities and characteristics and find a way to help each of them reach their own potential. 

Speaking of funny personalities, here's a cute video of my attempt to take a picture of my three youngest in their Christmas jammies. You can probably guess which one requires extra patience and a more active approach to learning....love these kiddos!

Good luck to all of you and your non-native bilingual parenting goals in 2017!!!

As you can see, we're still speaking mostly German to the kids.
Video translation: Just me and my husband encouraging the kids to stand still for 1 second so we can take a single picture :).

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Bilingual Baby Dream Team

Going on 20+ years of raising our bilingual babies...
I'm so grateful for a sweet husband who was willing to give this whole experiment a try and and that he was willing to speak German to our kids, even though his German exposure had been limited to a few semesters of college German. It's been one of the most fun and rewarding things we've done. The fact that our family speaks German has given us our own identity and helps the kids feel like they are a part of something special. And anything that helps your family feel special and connected is a good thing.