When I moved to Canada one of the first questions I would get from the people from our Pakistani Community who I met for the very first time; ‘Your child does not speak Urdu?’. I would then start on a long-worded explanation, to defend and clarify why my child does not speak fluent Urdu.
Now that I think of it, I should have turned around and commented on how my child is NOT measured on only speaking Urdu. Rather, it is another form of Parenting-Judgement that we should break-free from. When a social gathering is focused on showing off whose child does more, we simply undermine the concept of parenting and nurturing our child for their capabilities.
Still, Tell Us Na!
I know that many will persist until they get their answer. Well, now that I am comfortable to talk about it, I can share my journey so other parents don’t feel less. Just because your child didn’t accomplish what the other’s child did, does not measure your parenting. How can I say that?
You see my firstborn had a speech delay. I talk about it and how you can help your child with speech delay in this post.
I was told repeatedly that she HAS to speak Urdu. What I had on my hand was a child who was already 5 years old and not talking to me! After a long journey of trials and errors and meeting some lesson-worthy people (I would not call them teachers), I learned that the focus of parenting is to connect with my child and to communicate, irrelevant of which language.
Also, the harsh truth was, when it came to schooling, I knew that English-Language schools will have the empathy and procedures to help my child develop. So yes, we as a family opted to all converse in English, to help our first-born to get talking. Today, she is in high school and is an excellent painter and writer; both subjects that teachers continously praise her for her advanced level of understanding and application.
My Learning Has Been..
I have learned that just like setting numbers and grades as the judge of intellect is limiting, same way, imposing one language as the key indicator of achievement is wrong. All of our children comprehend Urdu and can respond in it. However, having grown up in Canada, they are comfortable talking in English; and that is ok with us, as parents.
The minute they walk into the house, they say Salam. They pray and read Quran. Their favorite food is Baryani, Nihari, Halwa Puri, Daal Chawal and so many more desi food. They know words to most Urdu Pop Songs and Dance with Zeal when Bhangra songs come on. They can sit with me to watch a SHK movie, while eating Gol Gappas. Eid is incomplete without Shalwar Qameez or similar outfits.
So you see, while Urdu is indeed a key aspect of our culture, it is NOT the only aspect. Also, before you ask someone; ‘Your Child Does Not Speak Urdu?’, understand there may be reasons beyond what you have the right to know for them not speaking Urdu.
Let’s break this cycle of parent-shaming by asking this question. Instead, appreciate that each parent has worked their best to nurture their little humans.
If you liked this post, you may also like to read: How we bring Islam to our kids.