I have a Google Alert set up with the keywords “Spanish for Children” to monitor that trend for fodder for my posts about raising bilingual kids here and on SpanglishBaby. Yesterday’s email alert was flooded with headlines about Gwyneth Paltrow “urging” and even “forcing” her kids to speak Spanish to her. The gossip headlines ranged from the factual to the sensational.
Of course, I quickly started clicking on all of these because I confess to adore Gwyneth for all the reasons so many people envy and resent her. I was anxious to read a juicy story that would show that her and I have so much in common — like the obsession over making sure our kids speak Spanish fluently.
I was oh-so disappointed to see just another link bait after the paparazzi and gossip obsession over Gwyneth’s parenting skills. Her “forcing” her kids to speak Spanish was witnessed by who-knows-who that was present at the same wedding (Cameron Diaz’s assistant) she was at. The grand story is that, supposedly, when Gwyneth’s kids, Moses and Apple, spoke to her in English, she would ask them to say it in Spanish instead.
Mind you, Gwyneth’s Spanish is impeccable and she considers Spain her second home. She decided to immerse her kids in her second language, so she speaks to them in Spanish and they are also learning in school.
¿Y qué hay de malo con eso? What the heck is the problem with that?!
I have to say I have a lot in common with Gwyneth (Okay, I’ve been dying to say that!) — when it comes to raising bilingual kids!
I too expect my girl to speak back to me in Spanish, so when she doesn’t, I ask her to repeat it in Spanish. Does that mean I’m “forcing” her in the negative sense of the word? Absolutely not! In fact, I don’t recommend forcing kids to do a thing, much less speak a language, because they will rebel against it. But redirecting them and asking them to try harder and, like I tell my girl, “turn on your Spanish chip,” is not an act of force, but an act of love. Why? Because innate bilingualism is a GIFT and our children will thank us for it.
It still shocks me that an apparently giving and loving mother like Gwyneth Paltrow gets so much negative media attention due to her parenting style decisions. Although none of the reports really question the fact she’s raising them in two languages, most question her style at it. And I’m sure these reporters are oh-so-savvy about the best practice and tactics about raising bilingual kids, huh?
The fact is that raising bilingual kids is a decision that requires commitment, consistency and an unbreakable passion. I applaud muy fuerte Gwyneth’s commitment to making sure her children learn Spanish, no matter what.