Monday, December 22, 2014

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

Title: Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
Author: Pamela Druckerman
Published: February 7th 2012 by The Penguin Press
Format: Hardcover, 263 pages
Genre: Parenting

When I picked up this book, I wanted to dislike it. Who does that? To be honest, since I have raised my children I get this gitty glee when I read a book by some young mother that is trying to reinvent parenting. Some ivy leaguer that just knows more than her mother or grandmother could ever know about what a child needs to be the Supreme Being that this new mother knows her child is.

This is where I need to apologize to Pamela Druckerman. I am sorry for my prejudice.

As I turned these pages, I found myself saying, “Geez, we should have done that”, “really, all I needed to do was …..”, “are you telling me that others knew this all along”. Makes me want to rewind the last 25 years and see if it would have made a difference. Granted, I have two adult children that have turned out very well, but still, maybe this would have prevented that very embarrassing temper tantrum in Home Depot, or the teen eye rolls. Granted, Ms. Druckerman’s children have not yet reached the teen years, but still, setting the foundation might make those years a tad bit easier.

Being a transplanted American had its share of bumpy roads, but when the author saw how unhurried the mothers of young children were, and how well behaved the children are, she was determined to find the answers. Between book research and quizzing other mother’s, Pamela Druckerman was able to find a peaceful middle between American and French parenting.

From the outside, they are vastly different. The French would never consider being a helicopter parent and find it ruins children. They feel no guilt about returning to work and placing a 4-month-old child in daycare. There are no fussy eaters since the child is introduced to varying foods early. The French child is taught from a very young age to delay gratification, in both food and actions, and that it is just as important to play by themselves as it is to play with other children. Most importantly, French children are taught how to “find their nights” by three to four months.

Ms. Druckerman did not come right out and say it, but it does appear that children are the first step towards their parents’ divorce if certain ground rules are not strictly adhered to. There is children’s time and there is parent’s time. Once 7:30pm rolls around, it is parent’s time, tomorrow they can have their time again. This seems barbaric to American culture, but it makes sense. Plus, it give the parents their much needed time together and a little end of the day romance that seems to disappear when a child comes along.

I could go on and on about the differences and logic, but this is a book that will need to be read by both of the expecting parents and possibly the expecting grandparents to make sure that everyone is onboard as to the new household regime.

My takeaway, boundaries – consistency – a few rules (not many but those that you do have will be strictly adhered to) – no loud voices – discipline in a confident tone – do not overly compliment (this will create children that need to be praised for everything they do) – listen to your children, but remember that they do not get the final say – and manners.

The French way is really a lifestyle change and unless everyone is onboard, you will get stares and comments, but then all you will have to do is look around to see who “gets it” and who does not.

No comments: