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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Is Pressured to Teach Native Language to Daughter

DEAR ABBY: I came to this country 30 years ago, at 16. My parents were very abusive and neglectful, so my uncle in the U.S. took me in. I have worked with therapists, and my mind is clear about my past.

I now have a 14-year-old daughter. I do not speak to her in my native language. It is not very good at expressing love and caring, and has more emphasis on strict hierarchy and obedience.

There are many things I cannot convey in my native language. One must understand the huge cultural difference between my native country and the U.S. In addition, I do not want to force my daughter to learn something because someone other than her insisted. I prefer to spend my resources helping her learn something she is interested in.

If she says she wants to learn my native language, I'll teach her. So far, she has shown no interest. My friends criticize me for not teaching it to her. I'm bothered by their insistence that I'm robbing my daughter of the opportunity to learn it. How do I tell them it is none of their business? -- READER IN HAWAII

DEAR READER: Your daughter may not have asked to learn your native language because it hasn't occurred to her that it might one day be a valuable asset. I do think you should offer to teach it to her if she's interested in knowing more about the culture that shaped her mother, because her answer might surprise you.

That said, because your friends' comments bother you, tell them that because you don't tell them how to raise their children, you prefer they not tell you how to raise yours.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Abuse