A dad has been slammed for stating any future children of his will only speak English, and will not learn his girlfriend’s mother tongue.
The 35-year-old, originally from California, has been living in Germany for the past 15 years, but despite his extended stay never learned the language.
He has two kids, a 15-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, who live in the U.S. and spend the summers with him.
In a post to Reddit’s Am I The A**hole forum, u/Over_Letterhead_4492 explained he’s been dating Lena, 32, for a few years.
The subject of children came up with Lena, originally from another country herself, as the dad said: “We have been talking potential future children and she said that she would want to teach them 3 languages from the very beginning, that it would be beneficial for them, etc.
“I asked how she wanted to do it and she said that I would speak to the child in English, she would speak to the child in her native tongue and the child would pick up German from surroundings, kindergarten, babysitter, etc.
“I told her it’s a ridiculous plan and it would just confuse the child and she argued that on the contrary, stability is key hence one parent, one language. Apparently, it’s a known method.”
He said he was “not comfortable” for numerous reasons, citing confusion for the child and the amount of effort.
He added: “…the child would speak languages I don’t understand (I admit, I don’t speak German nor my wife’s native language) and that the child would have harder time bonding with their half-sibling.
“That it would be unfair to my other kids who only speak one language and they would feel excluded when they come over because the house would have too many languages for them to feel comfortable.”
After being quizzed over whether he was “serious” by Lena, he claims she said: “..that she should’ve known better when I told her I haven’t learned German and she should have expected that. She said she needed time to think and went to her apartment.
“I am only trying to think of all my kids and I don’t think that I did anything wrong here, I genuinely thought I was right but her reaction took me by surprise and I don’t know anymore. Am I really an a**hole for not wanting my potential child to learn more than one language.”
Unsurprisingly people did brand him the villain of the piece, with the post, which can be read here, racking up more than 10,000 comments and upvotes since being posted on Sunday.
The top comment alone, from LailaBlack, amassed 24,500 upvotes, and said: “YTA. You’re refusing to let one child have different opportunities just because you couldn’t give your other kids the same. And you have no business stopping her from teaching her child her own language.”
SnakeSnoobies wrote: “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not really about the kids. He’s been in Germany for FIFTEEN YEARS. And hasn’t learned German.”
Meganes97 pointed out: “Exactly! I try and learn the basics, please/thank you etc when traveling, but if I was completely living in a country there is no way I wouldn’t start trying to learn the language BEFORE I move. Much less having been there for FIFTEEN YEARS.”
Starzzfall said: “This is BAFFLING. How do you live somewhere for 15 years and not learn the language? It’s peak American entitlement.”
Lividsloth14 commented: “Peak Americanism is living in a country for 15 years and not learning the language.”
Majestic-Seesaw9362 raged: “Huuuge effin AH for wanting to do that to his kid. Kids pick up languages easily (it is not confusing to them) , and it’s a great thing to learn early! Most Europeans are (at least) bilingual. Op, YTA. Sheesh.”
While Neonchicken added: “Exactly. YTA because why would you deny a child the benefits of being multilingual which will help them in life and expand their horizons? It’s like saying you want to actively limit your child.”
The chart below, provided by Statista, shows the number of first-language speakers.
Michigan State University Extension said up to age 3, children are “uniquely suited” to learning a second language, as it’s when their brains are most flexible.
They stated some benefits, saying: “Bilingual children may have a superior ability to focus on one thing and change their response, easily indicating ‘cognitive flexibility.’
“Bilingual children are also more adept at solving certain kinds of mental puzzles.
“Do not fear that learning two languages will confuse or distract your child.”
According to Ethnologue, the most spoken language in the world is English, with 1.5 billion speakers, followed by Mandarin, with 1.1 billion, then Hindi, with 602.2 million, next is Spanish, with 548.3 million, and in fifth place is French,with 274.1 million speakers.
The site explained: “Over 88% of people speak one of these languages as their native tongue, and many hundreds of millions more speak them as second languages. This ranking accounts for both, showing the total usage worldwide.”
Newsweek reached out to u/Over_Letterhead_4492 for comment.