Involving Both Parents
As with many other aspects of parenting, it is common for one parent to support the idea of baby sign language and the other to dismiss it. If you find yourself wanting to use sign language with your child, but your partner isn’t enthusiastic, this section is for you.
If you want to convince your parenting partner that baby sign language is a worthwhile undertaking, you will first have to determine what objections you are facing. Does your baby’s other parent think it is a waste of time? Does she think it will require too much effort? Could it be that she doubts its effectiveness? When you know why your partner is resistant, you will be better equipped to change her mind.
Even the most skeptical parent may be swayed to participate when he realizes that signing is an opportunity for the family to do something collectively. Gather the family together to practice signs or to watch a signing video; have a “secret” conversation with your partner or kids while out in public; compare notes with your partner at the end of the day about your baby’s signing progress. By making it a family affair, your baby’s other parent might be more willing to give it a try.
Don’t let your newfound passion for baby sign language cause strife within your home. Your baby can and will learn sign language, even if you are the only one signing with her. If you are unable to get your partner on board, just do it yourself. Your baby will still benefit, and your partner may eventually change his mind.
Even if your partner is not resistant to the idea of signing, he may still not take an active role in it. He may feel that he is inadequate to sign with your baby, or he may not think it is worth the effort. In either case, you can try to draw him in and get him involved. For example, if he does not take it upon himself to pick up a sign language book and read it or to learn the signs some other way, you will have to guide him in signing. Each time you learn a new sign, show it to your parenting partner as well. Give him opportunities to sign to your baby, and encourage him to actively seek those opportunities himself.
It is possible that your child’s other parent may still choose not to participate even after all of your encouragement, whether because she is uninterested or because she is still skeptical. In that case, wait until your baby forms her first sign. The thrill of that impressive milestone may be just the motivation your parenting partner needs to get on board.