The "Mommy Wars" Go Bilingual

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz in the media, and especially the blogosphere, that has reignited the so-called “Mommy Wars.” If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to the battle between moms over nearly every little parenting decision, in particular the decision to work or stay home. The controversial TIME Magazine cover on breastfeeding, the new book on modern motherhood by Elizabeth Badinter, and other debates of recent years have me contemplating how this all applies to our decision to raise bilingual children.

Given that my husband and I have decided that I will stay home with my son and stepdaughters for the coming school year, I am even more preoccupied with these “wars” than most. After working 6+ days a week since last August and keeping late hours due to the demands of self-employment, I am thrilled that I will now have the time to interact with the kids without interruption or preoccupation.

The thing I’m most excited about, though, is being able to reinforce Spanish once again. To be honest, I have felt like a complete failure on that front since tutoring took over my life. My stepdaughters are learning Spanish in their elementary magnet program, and my son is always with his Spanish-speaking babysitter or grandparents, but it hasn’t been enough for me to feel like bilingualism is still a priority in our family. I miss being here to watch the evolution of language from the mouth of a little one.

Maybe this feeling of guilt and needing to be personally involved stems from the fact that those mamá debates often extend to the realm of what we are teaching our kids. From getting on the perfect preschool’s waiting list to bragging about how many languages/words each child knows, some parents make the Spanish fluency goal a tough one to feel good about. I would venture to say that most of us are not interested in teaching our children Spanish so that we can flaunt it before the monolingual world, but we will still be made out to be that way by those who don’t have the resources to do so for their children.

Many public voices have called for an end to the Mommy Wars, and I see SpanglishBaby’s community as an example of how support — even of the virtual variety — can take the fear out of standing firmly in our parenting choices. We should each make an effort to spread a curiosity about and understanding of the bilingual life to other parents. Most importantly, we have to respect the choices of some parents NOT to raise their children in more than one language.

Let’s take a moment to remember that a good ofensa and defensa do not constitute good parenting.

¿Qué piensas tú? How do we sometimes wage “war” on each other re: bilingualism?

{Image via Neeta Lind}

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