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Monday, December 31, 2012

Discipline or Disciplina?

I realize my last post was almost a year ago, and I realize it was on being a bilingual family. Here's one more. ;)

Quick update: We're a bilingual Spanish/English family, where my wife is the primary English speaker, and I am the primary Spanish speaker, though we speak both fluently, and the boys hear us speak both. On weekends and on breaks (I'm a teacher), the boys hear more Spanish, as I talk to them and my wife in Spanish, I play Spanish-language music, or even put their Baby Einstein videos in Spanish. I want them to have as much exposure to Spanish as I did growing up in a bicultural/bilingual home.

As JJ turns 2 in a week, and reflecting on his last three to six months of language development, there's no question he's bilingual, and AJ--now nine months--is comprehending and responding to as much Spanish as English. (Side Papi note: He's always responded a little more to my Spanish than my wife's English.)

One issue that's emerging more now with JJ, though, is discipline. Fair and honest and equal and consistent discipline. Bilingual discipline. It's emerged naturally that I tell JJ to something in Spanish, while my wife tells him to do something in English. Sometimes we tell him the same thing at the same time, but in our respective languages. Here's the AMAZING thing--he hears and understands and complies, often SIMULTANEOUSLY, to both of us. My wife and I agree that since he understands well enough to do something, he understands well enough to accept the consequences--in either language.

The most important thing for me after I discipline JJ is to reassure him I love him and forgive him. Lo quiero y lo perdono.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


JJ is now 14 months old and really communicating! We are a bilingual (Spanish/English) household plus we've introduced some common signs, mostly having to do with mealtime (this kid LOVES to eat!). We also have friends over a lot and have the radio on (in English and Spanish depending on our moods) most of the day in the background. The kid is surrounded by language. As a Spanish teacher myself, this is ideal, because he's exposed to authentic language in authentic circumstances. I try to recreate this as much as I can in my classrooms, but it seems my own child is more willing to play along than high schoolers. ;)

But one thing that I've noticed lately is that he says "No no!" more often than any other word. And it doesn't help much that it's the same word in English and in Spanish, so it seems like double bang for its buck. I want JJ to play and explore and discover and make connections. I want to encourage that in him, but with all the messages that he's interpreting, it's really started to get to me that the clearest message he may hear--and subsequently repeats--is "No!". As a dad who wants to be loving and supportive, that's a real zinger.

Enter "dad guilt."

Do I not affirm him enough? Do I not say "Sí" (I'm the primary Spanish-speaking parent) enough to him? When I see him playing in the laundry basket, as I did when I was his age, my heart melts. I love seeing him make connections and discover how much house he has to play in! Maybe he's not hearing all the times I say "Buen niño" (Good boy) or the "Qué obediente" (How obedient) or "Te quiero mucho" (I love you) right now.

Maybe he just needs a "Sí."