A tale of language and familial ties unfolds as the Original Poster (OP), a father with Japanese roots, tries to share his heritage with his children by teaching them Japanese. However, his English-speaking wife feels increasingly isolated by these foreign language sessions. OP’s wife even threatens to cut their children’s tuition fees.
A Tapestry of Cultures
OP’s cultural background is steeped in rich Japanese tradition due to living in Japan during his teenage years. OP is also one-fourth Japanese and uses Japanese in his job regularly and sees the skill as a great asset he wants for his children as well.
Passing Down Tradition
Now a parent, he maintains fluency in the language. Balancing a mixed culture household, with his wife being only English-speaking, is the initial challenge presented. There is quickly a divide in the home on the value of passing on the language to the next generation.
OP’s two oldest children, 17 and 15, express a desire to learn Japanese, a move initially supported by their mother. As they begin to gain comprehension but lack the confidence to articulate, OP steps in to aid them.
A Chance to Bond
The moments of linguistic bonding through basic conversation become a daily routine. OP sees this as a great opportunity to connect with his teenage children in a really special way. He knows that acquiring a language requires daily practice and repetition.
OP’s wife, feeling excluded from these conversations, starts to grow insecure. She accuses OP and their older children of discussing her behind her back in Japanese, although this is not the case. A language that once connected a father and his children now becomes a wedge driving the family apart.
The House Rule
Concerned about family unity, the wife institutes a house-wide ban on the Japanese language. She labels the Japanese conversations as exclusionary and damaging to the family’s harmony. OP, seeing the value in these cultural and educational moments, finds himself at odds with her.
Defiance and Secrecy
Despite the ban, OP continues to hold Japanese sessions with his children when his wife is not around. OP sees it as an attempt to preserve cultural heritage and foster language learning. Also, it provides a chance to bond with his children, who are passionate about learning the skill.
The Accidental Informant
The youngest child, 10, overhears one of these secret conversations and unwittingly exposes it to their mother. The balance OP has been trying to maintain is severely disrupted.
Ultimatums and Threats
Upon learning about the secret language sessions, the wife becomes livid. In her anger, she threatens to withhold the children’s tuition for school. With the oldest near college-aged, this could potentially damage their future in a big way.
Accusations and Betrayal
A massive fight erupts between OP and his wife. She accuses him of betrayal and of making her look like the villain in front of their children. The fight forces OP to question his actions and evaluate the family’s stability.
A Twisted Perspective
As tensions persist, OP starts to question if he’s the antagonist in this family drama. He acknowledges that he went behind his wife’s back but also recognizes her inflexibility on the matter.
The Children’s Argument
Caught in the crossfire, OP is left to consider the children’s voices and their desire to continue learning Japanese. Because it is a part of their heritage and an important skill for their future, he doesn’t understand the issue.
OP’s wife is left to feel increasingly isolated and betrayed. She struggles to understand why OP persists in teaching their children a language she can’t understand, perceiving this as a breach of trust. It puts a huge strain on the couple’s relationship.
Was Speaking Japanese Behind His Wife’s Back Appropriate?
The readers in the forum had a lot of mixed views on the matter. Here are some of their responses:
One reader said, “Your wife sounds extremely insecure, and she needs to work on that. It’s wonderful that your kids are learning a second language, but they’ll never get comfortable with it unless they can practice speaking it regularly.”
Another Commenter Thinks
Another responder wrote: “Becoming adept at multiple languages helps brain development and wires your brain to be open to learning more languages in the future. I understand why your wife may feel left out, but you are really setting your children up for success, which is the point of parenting.”
A Third View on The Story
A different person states, “Learning a second language is a valuable skill, and it’s important to have it spoken consistently to actually stick. Could you include your wife and youngest in on learning the language as well?”
A Final Perspective on the Matter
Another viewpoint on the story: “Why can’t she learn the language too? Especially if it is part of your family’s culture.”
What Do You Think?
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.