Follow
Share

Has anyone had to handle speaking in a foreign language in front of others? Mother is 92 and lived in this country for 50 years and can speak English, but she speaks in her original language when the caregivers are in the room. Usually she complains about something they did. She says they are mad at her because she insists that my father eat. This has been a longstanding problem. She tells the caregivers to feed him when he is not ready to eat. (Father is bedbound and has dementia.) He usually gets angry and knocks the food away. He will come around eventually. But mother is so intense about him eating that the caregivers just try to appease her. Both 90+ parents are in my house and every day is a struggle with one issue or another. However, I don't like it when she talks in her foreign language to me in front of the caregivers. How should I approach her to talk in English? My mother is a very sensitive person and anything I say she will interpret as a criticism of her. I have to tread lightly. Any suggestions?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
I agree that it is rude in that situation. That is why I said in her situation, I would speak English to answer her mom.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Thanks to all for your comments. When mother talks in German I respond in English. In this small group setting I think it is rude to speak in another language in front of someone who does not understand it. She deliberately did this so the caregiver would not understand what she is saying. I felt uncomfortable because it was not right. After the caregiver left I told my mother my concern and I was pleasantly surprised that she agreed with me. We shall see if this continues. I know she wants to get things off her chest, but we will have to develop a better way for her to vent. Each day there is another challenge we have to tackle and I am so grateful for this site. Thank you!
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Grammyteacher, I'm not offended when I hear people speaking another language either, but it is rude to do it in a setting where you are excluding someone who is part of the group you are with. I've heard of it running the opposite way with caregivers speaking to each other in front of their patient - just as rude IMO.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

My husband is Chinese and I have learned Cantonese or of necessity. My MIL only speaks to me in Chinese but I know she understands both English and Spanish because she knows all the gossip about everyone on the neighborhood 😂😂 I have done like ahmyjoy in situations too. Not used my 2nd language in social situations, listened to all the dissing, then said a nice, ki d farewell at the end so they knew I understood everything

In your situation, I would simply answer mom in English. She speaks and understand English. You don't have to go out of your way to restate what mom had said, just respond in English. With my MIL, we always speak in Chinese, but she doesn't "speak" English that I know of other than simple phrases.

I will also say that I am around many different languages and I am not offended when people chat in their native language.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

This reminds me of when Hubby and I first started dating. I am Czech and Hubby’s family are Slovenian. The 2 languages are very similar. My MIL would always speak Slovenian to her friends when I was in the room. By the tone of her voice and their’s and gestures, I KNEW she was dissing me. Not only that, but I could understand just about everything she said. One day I’d had enough and when she said something in Slovenian to someone about me, I answered her comment in English. I will never forget the look on her face when she realized I could understand her!
Helpful Answer (8)
Report

What would happen if you repeat what she has said in English? Or only respond to her in English? That way the conversation is out in the open.
Helpful Answer (5)
Report

One thing I have noticed is that people sometimes will revert to their first language as they lose some cognitive abilities, but it sounds as though your mom is doing it on purpose? I agree that speaking in front of others in a way that excludes them is rude but I wouldn't worry about it unless your caregivers have mentioned something - it sounds like they probably have already heard all her complaints in english anyway.
Helpful Answer (6)
Report

demstress, your Mom needs to realize that many people, especially caregivers, are bi-lingual, or know multi-languages, depending on where they had lived.

You could try using a "theraputic fib" and whisper to your Mom you found out one of the caregivers can understand her when she [Mom] speaks in her native language because the root language is very similar.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter