11 Things Kids with Non-English Speaking Parents Can Relate To

Growing up in America with parents who don't speak English as a first language has been an interesting experience, to say the least. Learning not to be embarassed by my parents and to respect them for everything they've done is a lesson I'm so glad I have learned. My parents were refugees who came to America looking for a better life, and suffice to say it's been a bumpy ride, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Here are 11 things everyone who grew up with non-english speaking parents can relate to:


1. You cringed every time you and your parents had to go to a school event because you didn't know what would happen. You were always scared of parent-teacher conferences and how everyone would react. 

2. Cringing even harder every time you think about when you were younger and felt self-conscious about your parents. I want to punch my younger ungrateful self for EVER being embarassed of my parents. 

3. Being beyond terrified that your friends would make fun of your parents. Nothing compares to the sinking feeling in your stomach you get when you are hanging out with your friends and they make fun of immigrants with thick accents and you wonder if they’ve ever made fun of your parents.

4. You are a pro at ordering food for multiple people. You’re always the go-to in your family when it comes to ordering in restaurants. The look of confusion the waiter has when a child is ordering instead of their parents is actually laughable.

5. You’re also an expert on filling out forms and other types of paperwork. For the longest time my mom and I actually didn’t know what the word “spouse” meant, which lead to many interesting waiting room experiences.

6. Never wanting to ask your parents for help with homework because you didn’t want to upset them. Nothing broke my heart more when I was younger than the first time my mom couldn’t help me with my homework.

7. Being able to gossip in public in you and your parent’s native language is the best thing ever. You know one day it’s going to bite you in the butt and someone’s going to understand what you guys are saying, but making comments in your language to further the glares you get for speaking in your language in the first place is hilarious.

8. There is absolutely nothing in the world that rivals the anger you feel when you see the way people treat your parents when they can’t speak “proper English.” How about you try coming to a country to escape oppression only to face it every day because you were forced to learn a language as quick as you could in your late twenties while still being made fun of???

9. The difference in tone between the way people treat you and the way they treat your parents when they realize you speak English is astounding. If you disrespect my parents, then you disrespect me. I can’t even count the number of times my mom and I have left a store because of how rude the workers were to her.

10. The heart-sinking feeling when your parents apologize for not being able to speak properly. No, no, shush. You are more than enough for this cruel world that seems to deem English as a marker for intelligence, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.

11. You have nothing but love and admiration for your parents. You have grown to know your parents are some of the strongest hard-working people alive, and nothing anyone will ever say will change your opinion about them.