I am going to share something part and parcel of every couple’s life- an argument in the morning. We were in the kitchen together and my husband was carrying 8 month old Matty while I was preparing her milk. Matty gripped his shirt tightly and he teased her that she was going to crumple his shirt. So what was the big deal about it? I was most irked at how he said it to her. As an attempt to develop both Matty’s English and Mandarin properly in the long run, Daddy will be speaking mainly to her in Chinese while I will be speaking to her in English. Parenting or language experts will tell you that children learn languages more effectively this way. So Daddy spoke in Mandarin but for the word ” wrinkled”, he used a dialect word for it. I snapped at him harshly and asked him why must he use dialect for that word? So he defended by saying it will be good to let her pick up some of our dialect as well.
I have nothing against dialect and I am proud of my own roots as a Chinese and dialect group. It was just that I do not want her to be influenced and speak with Chinese or English that is mixed with dialect jargons. To be frank, it sounds crude and as a parent, it makes me shudder when I imagine if my daughter speaks like that next time.
After snapping at him, he said to me firmly in a controlled manner that I should not had lost my temper and bark at him right in front of the baby. What if she learns that from me and eventually disrespects him? I could have spoken to him about it privately.
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
― James Baldwin
I went silent and apologised meekly, then he went off for work. Those words hit me hard and I thought about everything that I intended the “best” for our daughter. Was that moment of teaching what is the ” best” for her?
He was right. It was not about how good my intention was for our daughter but how I talked to him. I had displayed rudeness, disrespect, harshness and impatience to how I responded to his actions. If I dont change my behaviour, I think it is soon that our daughter is going to pick it up from me and react to Daddy in the same way that Mummy does.
I can’t explain why, since the birth of our daughter, I have been snapping at him more often. Many a times, it was related to things he said or did pertaining to our daughter which seemed to me were not essential or beneficial. I think the phrase ” primal mother’s innate defensive mechanism” is definitely not a reason for me to react this way to him. It is time that I should start praying about this aspect and that God give me His grace to be gracious to my husband too.
Later in the noon, I text him and apologised again, assuring that we love him and will never want to disrespect him. He said it was fine, and when he got home, we spent the evening happily together with our daughter.
Weighing between what would seem to benefit my daughter’s linguistic development versus the virtue of respect, the latter is paramount and nothing will change this.