Lost in Translation – A Battle of Languages and Family Dynamics

Beautiful girls twins isolated on white

In a recent online post, a mother sought advice on whether she should apologize for her unconventional response to her sister-in-law’s (SIL) harsh correction of her bilingual son’s language development.

The original poster (OP), a 32-year-old mother of two kids, began by providing background information.

OP and her husband, who is 39 years old, reside in Belgium but frequently visit her family in England at least once in a month.

Hello or Bonjour?

As OP’s husband is Belgian, the family converses in both English and French at home.

OP’s four-year-old son had started blending the two languages, occasionally using words from one language while speaking the other.

This innocent language mix-up had never been an issue for the parents, and even the staff at their son’s nursery reassured them that it was a common occurrence for children that come from a multilingual household. Usually, children outgrow it once they start school.

However, OP’s SIL held a different perspective.

Whenever OP’s sister-in-law noticed language errors, she corrected the child rudely, in stark contrast to the gentle approach taken by the parents.

This behavior escalated when, during a visit, the sister-in-law decided to start ignoring the child when he made language errors.

The breaking point came when the child asked OP’s sister-in-law for a drink, and she deliberately ignored him, claiming that she would only respond if he used the correct sentence structure.

Tit For Tat?

To teach the SIL a lesson during a family dinner, OP deliberately ignored the SIL whenever she said something using improper English grammar. This did not sit well with the sister-in-law and she complained to her husband, OP’s brother.

When questioned by OP’s brother about her behavior, OP confronted him, stating that she couldn’t respond if the sister-in-law couldn’t speak English correctly, highlighting the apparent hypocrisy in the sister-in-law’s approach.

OP, feeling frustrated about the whole thing, went to social media users, questioning whether her actions were justified.

Language Lessons for the In-Laws

The post received numerous responses, with users expressing a range of viewpoints.

One user, RyNoona, supported OP’s response, stating,

“You completely passive-aggressively defended your kid against a childish adult. Was it petty? Yes. Was it deserved? Hell yes.”

This sentiment resonated with HappyLucyD, who argued that the sister-in-law had established the standard for reacting to language errors and should now understand the frustration it caused both the child and OP.

SamSpayedPI commended the mother, stating,

“Your son is four, for Chrissake. Of course he’s going to make a few grammatical and pronunciation errors. Gentle correction is the way to go, not ignoring the kid unless and until he gets the sentence right.”

RLuna911 shared a personal anecdote, relating to the OP’s situation.

The user grew up learning three languages and experienced similar mix-ups as a child.

RLuna911 pointed out that such behavior is normal for children who speak multiple languages and often resolves itself by the time they reach school age.

This user praised OP’s reaction as “perfection” in the face of the sister-in-law’s unwarranted criticism.

Far_Anteater_256 empathized with OP too and saw no reason for her to apologize.

The user highlighted the sister-in-law’s refusal to help the child and her role in making him cry, using the same logic she imposed on him.

“If she can’t even meet her own standards, she has no business imposing them on a toddler.”

In response to the original post, BadBandit1970 shared her own experience, highlighting the natural tendency of children to mix words regardless of the language they speak.

This commenter found OP’s response to be “deliciously petty and spiteful,” deeming the sister-in-law the antagonist of the situation.

The Verdict

OP’s decision to call out her sister-in-law’s grammatical errors in retaliation for the mistreatment of her child sparked a spirited discussion among social media users.

The overwhelming majority of the online community commended OP’s response as appropriate.

They were of the view that if OP’s SIL could not meet her own standards, she deserves it.

The incident sheds light on the need for understanding, patience, and support when it comes to a child’s development.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Do you think the OP from this social media post was wrong?

Featured Image Credit: belchonock /Depositphotos.com.

This article originally appeared on Ash & Pri.

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Annika Stepanov

Annika is passionate about personal finance and travel, pouring her extensive experience into her writing on these topics. She has a diploma in Creative English Writing and has been working in the industry since 2016.