This study focuses on language shifts within ethnic households and is based on a qualitative research on perceptions of the mother tongue among 57 such households in Istanbul's Zeytinburnu district in 2014. The research data was expanded in mid-2015 to analyze how the Turkish education system's monolingual approach creates an internal decisionmaking process about language preferences within the ethnic households in Zeytinburnu. It also theoretically describes the relationship between the state's language politics at schools and the future of ethnic children's lifelong group membership. Ethnic parents with children attending primary and secondary schools expressed concerns about turning their mother tongue into a second language even within their homes but recognized that their children must speak the 'government's language' and participate in a discursively planned process to have equal opportunity for success in the Turkish society. The parents' awareness of 'political intention' is analyzed by a qualitative approach and results are interpreted from the perspectives of sociological theory and language shift studies. Although ethnic parents encourage their children to speak Turkish in order to maximize the children's potential, they also develop survival strategies to keep their identities and cultures alive, such as setting up surroundings in which the mother tongue continues to be practiced.