I never understood how parents could not teach their children their native language. Much less lose their own native language. And yet you see it rather often in expats who have settled in a country that speaks a different language then their own.
As we became parents, we knew we would be giving our daughter the gift of growing up bilingually, she would be talked to in Dutch by me and in French by my bilingual husband. Since my husband and I speak Dutch to one another, losing my language was never an issue. It never even occured to me that it might be possible.
Three and a half years ago, before our daughter was even conceived, we moved to Cameroun, a francophone country in West Africa. That's where we were living when our daughter was born. When she was a little shy of 6 months, we were ordered to move by my husband's head office, destination unknown. Due to the financial crisis, the project he was working on had been put on hold.
We found ourselves moving in with my parents for a couple months, and eventually moved to Ivory Coast, another francophone country in West Africa.
Often it is a direct result of being arround other french speakers and not wanting to offend them. But slowly, sneakily, it starts happening when I'm alone with my little girl too. I have to be really focused when I talk to her to not have some stray french words and phrases seep in.
I don't want to lose my language. I don't want her to not know her mother tongue.