So, on Saturday my OH and I had our first Glöggfest of the season woo hoo…at first it was all …
and then it became all…
…rum #3bottlesofrum. Whoops
But at one point, in between the picture perfect gingerbread house and the last bottle of rum, I launched into telling everyone about my crusade to find English-speaking activities for parents and kids in Stockholm and to produce a resource which offers advice and help on how to settle children in Stockholm. I wasn’t surprised by my Swedish friends’ responses, ‘but shouldn’t the parents and kids be learning Swedish anyway?’
YES!!! absolutely, if that’s what the parents would like them to do and if that is what is most appropriate for the child’s future. But there are soooooo many other factors involved. How much time are the family actually going to live in Sweden; how old is the child; is this a temporary relocation because of a job or contract; who is the main caregiver to the child and do they speak Swedish?!
When you’re in a foreign environment with small children you seek familiarity, comfort and a feeling of ‘home’. Some semblance of the life you had figured out (or were in the process of figuring out) before the upheaval, be it relocation, welcoming a new child into the family, new job or all three. For some, this familiarity might be as manageable as a routine or favourite food, but for others it might be seeking out a whole new network of familiar activities, languages, communications!
For me, starting out as a new Mum in a foreign country, was made all that bit more bearable because I found a network that I could communicate in and find my own place. I was able to figure out my own way of being and get settled into a new lifestyle and make brand new friends who were in EXACTLY the same situation as me. I was able to empathise and sympathise and because of that be a better parent…IN ENGLISH…without having to worry if I pronounced the ‘Ö’ in FÖÖÖRSKOLAN properly.
So, in answer to my friend’s question, yeah sure, the kids and parents could learn Swedish but not at the expense of themselves or of their very personal and particular experience.