Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Foreign daughter-in-law leaves them speechless


DEAR ABBY: My son married an educated professional woman from another country. When their twins were born, my daughter-in-law immersed them in her native language so it would become their mother tongue.

Although I understand and respect the benefits of being bilingual, this caused a lot of communication gaps and frustration between us and the grandkids during their early years.

They attend a bilingual elementary school now, and their English is superb and communication between us is great. The problem is, when we are together, my daughter-in-law speaks to her children exclusively in her native language. My son understands the conversation, but my husband and I do not know what is being said. We think this is rude and inconsiderate.

Are we being overly sensitive, or is this common practice in families with multiple languages? Our relationship with our daughter-in-law is polite and cordial, but not close or intimate.

Any advice?

- Left Out in Florida

DEAR LEFT OUT: This is not unusual in multilingual families, and I agree that it is inconsiderate. Have you spoken to your son and daughter-in-law about how this makes you feel? If you haven't, you should, because she may not be deliberately trying to make you feel excluded.

When you raise the subject, choose your words and tone carefully. Because if you don't, your relationship with your daughter-in-law could become a lot less cordial than it is.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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