This is ridiculous - accents

(33 Posts)
DeliveredByKiki Mon 27-Nov-17 08:20:24

My DC we’re 3.5 and newborn when we moved to the US, still here 5.5years later and they have weird hybrid accents that normally sound very American but occasional words and phrases are british. It’s never bothered me because in my head I’ve always known we’ll go home so they’ll readapt but recently it’s really been bothering me - I hate hearing them sound american.

I want them to be home for secondary school, I want them to be british, to sound british, have a british education, easy access to other countries, live in a country that actually has gun control. DH doesn’t want to move back, our quality of life is definitely better here (we’re in LA), my reasons seem churlish and especially not knowing what will happen re brexit - I basically think my hatred of my DC accents is coming from a place of true fear we’re never going home sad

OP’s posts: |
Fekko Mon 27-Nov-17 08:24:46

My sister wanted her kids to have accents that didn't make them stand out (another Brit in the us). She had a 'foreign' accent when she was little and was teased/bullied because of it.

Evelynismyspyname Mon 27-Nov-17 09:55:19

You may well find that when they are older they can swap at will.

Plenty of people brought up in an area with a strong accent, whose parents are from outside the area and have a different or more neutral accent, speak with the accent of their local area when in their local community and soften the accent so much that only the vowel sounds are vaguely local when in a situation where nobody else has the local accent. Its not being "fake" its often an almost unconscious chameleon tendency.

DeliveredByKiki Mon 27-Nov-17 15:42:24

Really? I know it’s such a stupid reason to want to go home but it’s really become an issue for me recently

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Kursk Mon 27-Nov-17 15:46:37

We are the opposite to you we made the move 3 years ago as a one way trip (Maine) I want the DC to be more American so they fit in. I try and adjust my own phrasing so I loose the Britishness.

MrsMoastyToasty Mon 27-Nov-17 15:52:13

OH is from Scotland but has lived in the south west of England for over 30 years. He speaks with a west country burr until he gets talking to someone from Scotland and then it's pure glaswegian.

DamnCommandments Mon 27-Nov-17 15:56:47

I've lived in the US. Currently elsewhere, but the kids are in an American school. My kids are roughly the same ages as yours. They use an American voice at school and a British one at home - at least, that's what they do most of the time. DH struggles with their American voices. He thinks it makes them sound a bit dim and uncertain (it's the lift at the end of the sentence that really gets to him).

In my heart of hearts, I didn't like it much either. But we did it to them. And now we have to own it. It's not their fault they sound this way. So I've worked at first accepting it, and then loving how they're adapting to their surroundings. I haven't quite managed to love the accent itself yet, but I'm getting better. Can you try to adjust your own mindset on this one? Even if you don't want to stay, your kids have to play the hand they have in front of them and it sounds like they're doing fabulously.


Cavender Mon 27-Nov-17 16:01:12

You have to accept and respect who your children actually are. Not who you want them to be.

And Damn is correct, you did it to them.

You are bringing them up in America, it’s not surprising that they are in fact American.

And it won’t just be their accents either.

Evelynismyspyname Mon 27-Nov-17 17:01:55

Delivered yes really. My RP speaking parents moved us to Yorkshire. I was too old and never really caught the accent, but my younger siblings speak with a Yorkshire accent when with others who do, and RP when the people they're with don't have Yorkshire accents. They do it unconsciously.

My kids speak German with a Bavarian accent but when speaking English they sound as if they're from Surrey, nobody ever knows they're German unless dc3 decides to address his siblings in German, which does flumox people when we're not in a bilingual type area/ situation (I suppose the same could happen with an accent swap).

Kids switch automatically if they are strongly immersed in a daily basis before age 7 in both accents/ languages.

Who your kids are is themselves - they aren't 100% American, or 100% British. I would never try to change my speech to help the kids blend in. For one thing it's something adults usually fail at and teach their children to sound try hard and not quite right, and for another it suggests they should be ashamed of part of who they,and you, are.

If you keep speaking naturally at home your kids will grow up with two voices - there's nothing wrong with that, it's true of millions of people whose family hasn't stayed in one place for multiple generations.

DeliveredByKiki Mon 27-Nov-17 17:46:23

as I said in my OP, I think this is actually symptomatic of a general major wash of homesickness and fear that the assumption we would always go home is disappearing. I've never really had a problem and have baulked at ever correcting them (and stopped people like my mother doing the same) to speak with a British accent - I want them to fit in with their peers and it's lovely how they both seem to enjoy being "citizens" (not officially but you know what I mean) of both countries.

Cavender I completely agree with you that it won't just be their accents - my biggest fear is they actually are/will be American in a cultural context too, not that it's any worse or better than being British, I just don't want to have a cultural divide with my children. And yes we absolutely did this to them - the plan had always been to stay 3-4 years and it's getting quite far beyond that now

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DeliveredByKiki Mon 27-Nov-17 17:46:56

sorry - bad grammar, the assumption is disappearing, not the fear = the fear is increasing!

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Smitff Mon 27-Nov-17 17:59:03

I know exactly how you feel, with the added twist that I was an immigrant to the UK for 30+ years before I moved. I can’t wrap my head around the fact my children are American.

I’m a little further along then you in terms of acceptance that this is where our future lies. My children are older than 3.5 and newborn (not sure how old yours are now). I’ve become comfortable with all this through a number of things coming together: they are my children and I’m raising them, but they are themselves too and they will decide who and what they want to be when they’re older; morally / politically etc, there’s not a lot between the uk and the us, so I struggle to have pride in either of these countries; my children are half British, whether they like it or not, and my influence during their upbringing will add something rather than detract; we’re on the east coast so London is only 7 hours away; they’re going to love being half-and-half when they’re older, it’ll be “cool” etc.

But fundamentally, it doesn’t really matter. I am who I am. They will be who they will be. They will always be my children and that’s the main thing.

BeALert Tue 28-Nov-17 02:22:01

We've been in the US 10 years. My children are teenagers and have American accents. I'm at the point where I find English accents sound odd and affected, especially children.

nowt Tue 28-Nov-17 03:17:58

It does sound like you need to settle on whether you will be going back to the UK or not. If you are staying then you will need to accept their accents.

Check out John Barrowman switching between American and Scottish smile

DeliveredByKiki Tue 28-Nov-17 18:58:48

nowt yup - that's the ongoing issue! We're def staying until 2020 we think as that's when we can apply for citizenship which means we can go home and come back again, though obviously we know the tax ramifications and need to look into it properly - but basically means we're focusing on being here for now

OP’s posts: |
OlennasWimple Sat 09-Dec-17 15:18:26

One of my DC sounds as English as the day we left, the other sounds as if they have lived in the US all their life.... Though the younger one definitely switches it on and off depending on context - at school it's about fitting in, even if we hardly recognise her voice!

BeALert Sat 09-Dec-17 21:09:22

Though the younger one definitely switches it on and off depending on context

My oldest did this for a while. She now says she wishes she'd kept her English accent.

americanlife Sat 09-Dec-17 22:15:29

Delivered. I hear you. I don't know what it is but having been pretty content here for many years I sudden;y am getting waves of homesickness- I felt so sad at thanksgiving that we never get to spend it with family. My parents are too old to fly here. I don't know if the novelty value has worn off, or I am getting older and aware my family are just not part of my kids' lives in a way that I realise would have been enriching. I just get waves of sadness that we are so far from everyone.

My kids do not have a relationship with their grandparents and you realise that you are just this little family unit on your own. Like you we can apply for citizenship next fall so we can't do anything drastic yet and I don't even know where I would go in the UK. I do think we have a better quality of life here compard to the UK but it is just so isolated somehow, even though we have made dear friends here- you really spend most time as your family unit. Also LA.

LinoleumBlownapart Sun 10-Dec-17 11:45:04

Other than injecting them with tea and milk there's not much you can do smile. It sounds a little like you're feeling the tug of having to make a decision about leaving your home land more permanently and you're focusing this turmoil on how your children speak. We lived in the U.S. for a while and it's looking likely we'll be going back, we're currently in a non English speaking country and the children are in local schools so their English is British/RP London mostly, but TV has a massive influence and our neighbours over the road grew up in America until they were 3, 7 and 9 and I tried to encourage them all not to speak English because mine would get more of a twang. But I realised it's not my place to interfere. When we left the U.S. they had a hybrid accent which was worse than one or the other, so I'd settle for US over that, even Californian.
Others are right, your children are who they are, they are children of the world, in the future this is much more beneficial. They'll always have a cultural connection to the UK no matter what they sound like. Your emotional tug to the UK is another matter, everyone gets waves of sadness. It's part of the deal unfortunately so I know what you mean. We're living close to DH's family and I still sometimes feel alone and isolated. I think it's normal. Nothing is ever better, just better in different ways.

mathanxiety Mon 11-Dec-17 04:09:42

The accents used to bother me, especially when the DCs first went to school and really picked up the local one (Chicago, so dreadful). Some words in particular made me cringe. They settled back into our own family accent (exH from another part of the US so didn't have the local accent) after a year or so.

If you heard them speak you would say my DCs are 'American', and you would be right. They were all born here. But 'home' for them is a certain little spot in the midwest, not Alabama or NYC or the Pacific northwest, any more than those places are home to me.

You are right to stop people from correcting them when they speak, and I hope you will be able to stop yourself from hating the accent too. Where they are living, the friends they spend time with, the jokes and fun they have, the language they speak, are their childhood and what their memories will consist of. Don't make them feel they are not really a part of it and that they belong elsewhere, or feel guilty in some way that they are hurting you by engaging fully in their own lives.

Don't mix up their 'home' with 'America' or whatever 'America' means to you. My DCs' memories are of T-ball, baseball, softball, baseball games in an empty lot, basketball - a 56-2 winning season for one of them, volleyball, schools, teachers, school trips, a game called assassins in high school, park district classes, going to the library, the ice rink, the ice show, the local pools and playgrounds, taking the El by themselves for the first time with friends, days on the beach, days at the Art Institute, vacations - yes 'vacations' - in Michigan and Wisconsin, Thanksgiving and Christmas, ice cream at the little local place, local pizza, all the friendly and hospitable neighbours and the parents of their friends, block parties - I do not want to throw a wet blanket on any of that. Their childhood would have been different in Dublin but what they had is the only one they will ever have. They will not be more or less my children because they were familiar with pumpkin pie from an early age and do not like plum pudding. My job is to let them know we are all in this together.

farangatang Tue 12-Dec-17 12:52:14

I suggest you do a little bit of research into TCKs - Third Culture Kids. There are loads of great books and research about what it's like for children growing up in a country other than their one of birth / parent's birth.
And, accents are a funny thing - I find Scottish accents most resilient and resistant to change, but most kids will be sounding like 'locals' within a week of moving anywhere new!
Hope the homesicknesses subsides soon and you feel more at home (no pun intended) with your family decisions as to where to live soon.

CougheeBean Tue 12-Dec-17 13:03:21

Keep exposing them to British conversation and accents and they will learn how to swap. My British born friend has the most fantastic thick Pakistani accent when talking to her family, I love it - the accent she uses around me is 100% London and I’m always surprised when she picks up the phone to family and wears a different voice!

OlennasWimple Tue 12-Dec-17 14:00:51

That's a great post mathanxiety

AdoraBell Tue 12-Dec-17 23:59:41

My DC had 3 accents when we lived in Latin America.

Chilean Spanish
London English

And, because their school was local but conducted in English, Chilean speaking English as a second language. They can still switch between the three in conversations. And now that we are back in the UK, but not London, they are adapting to their current classmates.

I’ve said before, if you don’t want children to have an accent different to yours then don’t move them from your home town. On the plus side living overseas should broaden their horizons.

I hope you start to feel more settled soon.

Roomba Sat 16-Dec-17 07:46:12

I can understand where this issue has come from, OP as my friend had similar feelings about her children's accent. This wasn't even living oversees issue as her kids have strong Brummie accents when she's from Lancashire. For her, it reminded her constantly that she wasn't able to move back to her family support due to her ex not allowing her to move the kids. If she can feel like that, I imagine it's very common for parents who live overseas with a huge culture difference too.

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