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French Parenting: From baby to bebe

Posted by Dave on March 25, 2012 at 4:50 PM

To get right to the point, Pamela Druckerman wrote a book. Buy it.

 

Okay, you probably want to know a bit more before you plunk down hard-earned cash, but a great deal of what Mrs. Druckerman learned whilst living in France mirrors much of what I say on this site. But, it goes further, much further. And it’s good stuff.

 

Druckerman is an American parent of a toddler living in France, and her startled observations of the traditional style of French parenting (there really seems only to be one) offer us some useful insights about what we as American parents could do better.

 

All the things that American kids (especially toddlers) do that drive their parents around the bend don’t seem to be an issue in France. Our kids are picky eaters. Theirs will happily mix escargot and sprouts. Ours shriek and run about the house. Theirs are quite content to sit and play quietly by themselves. Theirs have oodles of patience – not ours.

 

What’s different?

 

First, Druckerman says, “they aren’t panicked about their children’s well being.” They are quite aware of life’s hazards and deal with them as needed and un-obsessively. This makes them much calmer about setting limits and giving the kids a fairly large degree of autonomy. Also, the kids aren’t addicted to attention (like most American kids), even though French parents give them plenty – at appropriate times and in appropriate ways.

 

French parenting also seems to be education-centric. In much the same way I advocate, French parents focus on teaching their kids all sorts of life skills and lessons – starting with patience and calmness. There’s far less of the competitive education going on in pre-school – no Mandarin lessons for four year olds. Toddlers toddle. Parents enjoy their lives and have enforced adult time in the evenings, where the kids are welcome to participate, or not.

 

I haven’t read the entire book yet, but I didn't have to get far to know that Druckerman’s really on to something useful here. It’s not that no Americans parent in a similar style – some do – it’s that the French just take it for granted. Their view of what a child is – is very different from ours.  This site and blog are about philosphies that are proven to work, but I don't much care it it's American, French, or Martian.


(PS - I've since read the entire book, and it only strengthened my recommendation to buy and read it! Good stuff, cover to cover.)

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Categories: Book Recommendations, General Topics

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