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American Lives in Norway But Has a Rule that Only English is Spoken in His Home, But When His Son’s Girlfriend Struggles to Speak, He Refuses to Bend the Rules.

In this compelling tale, an American ex-patriate living in Norway finds himself caught in a family feud over the language spoken at home when his son’s new girlfriend struggles with her limited English proficiency. The conflict escalates, causing divisions within the family and straining relationships, reaching its climax when an unexpected revelation about the girlfriend’s linguistic capabilities comes to light. As the Original Poster (OP), a 41-year-old man, stands at the precipice of decision, the story leaves us hanging, awaiting a resolution that could mend or further disrupt the family dynamics.

American in Norway

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Originally an American, OP moved to Norway for schooling more than two decades ago. There, he met his wife, Mary, and they settled down, raising three children. They decided to maintain a bilingual household.

Mostly English

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OP and his wife speak Norwegian and English at home to broaden their children’s linguistic capabilities, but the family predominantly communicates in English, OP’s native tongue. The bilingual household does not entertain often so the household rules haven’t been enforced in front of guests.

Language at Home

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OP prefers speaking English to avoid losing his proficiency while also using it as a hiatus from his Norwegian-speaking work environment. The children are free to communicate in either language.

John’s New Relationship

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OP’s oldest child, John, who is 16 years old, started dating a girl named Hannah. John introduced Hannah to his family early in December, and everyone agreed that she was a good influence on him. However, Hannah was noticeably quiet, which OP initially brushed off.

Uncomfortable Dinner

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On Thursday, John’s behavior towards OP shifted during a family dinner with Hannah. John appeared to harbor ill feelings towards his father, seemingly agitated for an unknown reason. It wasn’t until after dinner that the source of the problem was revealed.

The Language Barrier

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After dinner, John disclosed to OP that Hannah was struggling with her limited English proficiency, leading to feelings of exclusion during her visits. He suggested that OP switch to speaking Norwegian to make Hannah feel more included.

House Rules

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OP defended his choice to speak English at home, explaining it’s part of a long-standing agreement within the family. He reasoned that he could modify the way he speaks English to make it more understandable, but completely switching to Norwegian was non-negotiable.

John’s Argument

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OP’s response ignited John’s anger, leading him to accuse his father of being stubborn. John argued that as they are living in Norway, Norwegian should be the primary language spoken, mainly when guests are around.

The Cultural Conflict

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John felt it was unfair for his girlfriend Hannah to feel alienated just because she wasn’t fluent in English. This argument introduced the broader cultural conflict into the family disagreement. John felt justified for sticking up for his girlfriend.

Mary’s Suggestion

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Mary suggested that if language was an issue, John could give Hannah English lessons, and she could help in this process. However, this proposal was dismissed by John, who reiterated that the core issue was respect and inclusion. Frustrated, he left the conversation abruptly.

Sibling Support

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In the aftermath of the argument, John’s younger siblings supported his stance. They suggested that OP should make the switch to Norwegian when Hannah visits in order to maintain harmony in the family. This revealed that the language debate had affected the entire family dynamic.

A Wife’s Stance

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While Mary generally sided with OP, she hinted that he might want to reconsider if the disagreement was causing him significant discomfort. She reassured OP that John would eventually get over the issue. However, her advice seemed to leave OP with more questions than answers.

Coworkers’ Divide

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OP presented the situation to his colleagues, resulting in a split opinion. Some sympathized with John’s viewpoint, while others supported OP’s right to speak his preferred language in his own home. The divided response added to OP’s confusion regarding the right course of action.

Was The Father’s Behavior Appropriate?

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OP posted his story online for feedback. The readers in the forum had a lot of mixed views on the matter. Here are some of their responses:

Forum Responds

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One reader said, “Your home, etc. But you’ve said she has visited only a few times. A considerate host speaks the most common language for the guests.”

Another Commenter Thinks

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Another responder wrote, “This is what you usually do in your home. You don’t speak English just to annoy Hannah or make her feel left out. You do it because it’s your mother tongue.”

A Third View on The Story

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A different person stated, “My ex-mother-in-law was a native Spanish speaker and would speak mostly Spanish with her son and his siblings when I was around. I never would have dreamt of telling her to speak English for me.”

A Final Perspective on the Matter

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Another reader commented, “Your son’s girlfriend’s insecurities aren’t your issue to solve. He’s a good boyfriend for bringing it to your attention, but he should have listened to your response.”

What Do You Think?

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What are your thoughts on their actions?

What would you have done in this situation?

This story is inspired by a thread from an online forum.

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