Today, as on the 6th of November every year, the “Finland Swedish Heritage Day” is celebrated in my home country. On this day all things to do with the Swedish-speaking part of Finland is brought to attention and appreciated. I am one of the Finns who state Swedish as their mother tongue – so I was born into a minority of five per cent of the population. The Swedish-speaking minority in Finland belongs to the luckier minorities in the world – everything is available in Swedish: from health and child care to public and religious institutions, as well as education on all levels from pre-school to university.
All this meant that my Swedish-speaking father didn’t really have to put in too much effort to ensure I grew up speaking his family language. But this is not the case for most minority language parents who want to pass on their language to their children. As the representative of the minority language you often find yourself worried whether you will have the strength to go through with raising your son to become bilingual. Will you be able to arrange for the appropriate amount of exposure for your language for him? Will he even want to speak your language when he grows older?
What should you do if you are in the middle of it and feel overwhelmed by the task ahead of you? First of all, be proud of yourself – you have made the right decision by choosing to give your son the gift of an additional language. Then speak to your partner and close family. Explain how you feel and discuss the challenges and what you can do together to make the journey easier. Try to pinpoint what exactly makes you feel anxious – by voicing your concerns you will make the challenges easier to tackle.
Make sure to also contact other parents raising bilingual children – find them in your community and on-line. Ask for help – there are plenty of blogs like this one as well as forums where you can find parents who are happy to offer their support and advice. You can start your blog search here: Multicultural Kids Blogs
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the task of bringing up a bilingual child? If yes, what helped you to continue your family’s multilingual journey?
May the peace and power be with you.
© Rita Rosenback 2013