These three phrases, and the knowledge that goes behind them, could be the most important tools parents have when advocating for their bilingual child:

1) “His/her language development is on-target for bilingual acquisition. Would you like me to give you some resources to read about this topic?”

– This phrase demonstrates that you are not susceptible to fear-based tactics, and that you are following your child’s language development closely. In addition, it shows that you have knowledge about the topic, and have actual information behind your statements. And it shows that you are happy to be helpful and share the information with them.

2) “Research demonstrates that bilingualism has many benefits for children. Would you like me to give you some resources to read about this topic?”

– “Research demonstrates” is a powerful phrase when going up against health and education professionals. If you know what research says about bilingualism, and aren’t afraid to tell them, they will most likely defer to you rather than persist in trying to advise you. And of course, you helpfully offer to share the information with them, in case they are really interested in learning something.

3) “No, we are not worried. We have a family language plan for our children, based on the latest research. Would you like me to give you some resources to read about this topic?”

– This demonstrates that you are playing an active role in your child’s language journey, and the word “plan” shows that you are serious about what you are doing. When you throw “research” in there, it helps give you gravitas…. and of course, ever helpful, offer to share your information with them.

Now, this post may be (slightly) tongue-in-cheek, but my point is very serious. If you are choosing to raise a bilingual child in a place where this is not the norm, you need to be prepared to advocate for your child. Doctors, nurses, day care workers, teachers and other professionals you interact with may not support your choice, and may give poor or inaccurate advice about the process. Your best weapons are knowledge and conviction. Knowledge about bilingual language acquisition, knowledge that your family’s approach is a valid one, and the conviction to stand up for your child will be needed, at some point along the journey. The only question is, will you inform yourself now, or wait until you are challenged?