One Parent, One Language, as a single parent

Do a quick Google search on raising bilingual children, and chances are, you will stumble across the phrase “One Parent, One Language”- the methodology often prescribed for teaching multiple languages in the home.

The idea is relatively simple. If “mom” speaks fluent German, and “dad” speaks fluent French, then “mom” is to only speak German with the children, while “dad” communicates in exclusively French. This method is suggested to be one of the most effective ways for children not only to learn the language, but to fully integrate into it, becoming bilingual.

But what if your family unit doesn’t consist of both parents? What if you are a single parent?

What does that mean for you, then?


These were the questions I would ask, as I poured over the research. Being a single parent myself, I already struggled with feeling “enough”. And now? To feel like I was doing a disservice to my son’s language skills- it was almost too much on top of an already unimaginable amount of guilt.

In most blogs, this is the point where the author goes from victim to victory- turning on a dime, just to end the story on a positive note.

This is not one of those stories.

Instead, I am here today to encourage those friends whose life may look a little different than most. Friends who, like me, parent alone.

It has taken time, but I’ve come to a place of acceptance with language in our home. I can’t realistically implement the “OPOL” method. But I can try my best. And I’m ok with that.

Would “One Parent, One Language” be ideal? Absolutely. And maybe someday, I’ll get that. But until then, I will be doing both as much as possible. Until then, I will show my son that it’s not about what we don’t have, but rather how we use the gifts we’ve been given that matters.


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