‘I was horrified at this suggestion.’ Her Husband Wants To Punish Her Daughter For Speaking Hindi
by Trisha Leigh
A lot of people – maybe even most people – agree that being able to speak multiple languages is a desirable skill.
Some think the opposite, and even though OP’s husband has a good reason, she still thinks he’s wrong.
OP and her daughter immigrated from India after her husband died. Her daughter was 5, and when she began dating her now-husband, his son was 6.
Me and my daughter, Anya, are from India. Our native language is Hindi. She 11 years old now. Her father died when she was 5 and I immigrated to states because everyone was trying to get me remarried to a 60 year old sleazebag because “oh no. How ever will a woman live or raise a child alone”.
I started dating my now-husband when Anya was 6. He had a 5 year old son, Ben (50% custody). Me, Anya, Ben, Husband and Ben’s mum get along really well.
Their families integrated well and she feels as if they, as parents, have navigated issues deftly.
The kids were very well adjusted and they were genuinely happy when we got married. Whenever tensions arose, we dealt with them patiently.
Let’s just say after walking through the minefield of Indian family/drama, diffusing these toy bombs were very easy.
Her daughter speaks flawless English but sometimes slips into her native Hindi when she’s excited or upset.
Anya has a habit of talking in Hindi when she gets really excited. Sometimes, while talking to me, she starts talking in Hindi without even realising it.
This wasn’t a problem. If she does that while others are around, I would remind her and she would revert back to English.
Things changed after her stepson lost his mother. He moved in with them full time and let them know it upset him when he couldn’t understand what OP and her daughter were discussing.
They both felt terrible and made a big effort to only speak English in the house so he wouldn’t feel left out.
Few months ago, Ben’s mum passed away and he came to live with us full time. He has a room already and we put Ben into therapy immediately.
A week ago, Ben walked in when me and Anya were cooking and we were talking in Hindi and he started crying. He told me he is feeling bad that he can’t understand what we are saying.
I hugged him and consoled him and assured him that we didn’t do it to exclude him purposefully. And then Anya started crying and apologised. The whole thing was just heartbreaking.
After her daughter slipped up in a moment of agitation, her husband suggested they needed to punish her so she wouldn’t forget again.
Since then, Anya has been making concious efforts to talk only in English and I can tell that it puts Ben at ease.
Yesterday, however, she was frustrated and started lamenting about school work in Hindi to me. Me and Anya were in the living room and Ben and husband were in the kitchen and they heard it.
Later that night, my husband told me how he thinks we must start thinking about giving punishments whenever she speaks in Hindi unconsciously until Ben starts feeling better.
OP is adamantly opposed to punishing her daughter for speaking her native language at all, even more so because she’s doing it on accident, but her husband insists it’s the best thing for his son.
I was horrified at this suggestion. I have never pulled the “She is my daughter, not yours” card. But this is the hill I am willing to die on and use that card if necessary.
Whether he likes it or not, it’s her first language. Expecting her to always converse in her second language, even when she is feeling some extreme emotions is just cruel.
Especially after she is genuinely making an effort to make Ben feel more comfortable. It’s almost like punishing for her heritage or for her being Indian.
Of course, this is a huge point of conflict between me and my husband. I think it’s unfair to do this to Anya, even temporarily.
He thinks me and Anya are unnecessarily making feel Ben bad while he is mourning his mother, while we can try and prevent it.
Both of us are conflicted here. Who is wrong here?
She’s asking Reddit to rule, so what do they say?
The top comment says that the husband will absolutely mess up her daughter if she allows this.
This person agrees, and thinks OP should go one step further and make sure her daughter doesn’t lose her language skills.
They say maybe they could learn a language together.
It could be a secret thing just for the two of them.
They need to make sure that both children feel loved and supported.
I think the husband’s heart is in the right place.
But in this instance, his head needs to get involved, too.