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Monday, February 13, 2012

How to raise kids like a French woman

Have you heard these rules of French parenting? I'm dying to discuss...

The much-buzzed-about book Bringing Up Bebe just came out. The author Pamela Druckerman, an American mother of three, moved to Paris and said she learned how to better raise her kids by watching French parents. My copy of the book is still in the mail (I can't wait to get it), but I read an excerpt in the Wall Street Journal this week. The fascinating article was a little patronizing (not all Americans are bumbling fools, harrumph!), but here are four basic points I loved (and agree with)...

1. You can have a grown-up life, even if you have kids. Pamela writes: "The French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren't at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this. 'For me, the evenings are for the parents,' one Parisian mother told me. 'My daughter can be with us if she wants, but it's adult time.' "

2. You can teach your child the act of learning to wait. Pamela writes: "It is why the French babies I meet mostly sleep through the night…Their parents don't pick them up the second they start crying, allowing the babies to learn how to fall back asleep. It is also why French toddlers will sit happily at a restaurant. Rather than snacking all day like American children, they mostly have to wait until mealtime to eat. (French kids consistently have three meals a day and one snack around 4 p.m.) A [French mother] Delphine said that she sometimes bought her daughter Pauline candy. (Bonbons are on display in most bakeries.) But Pauline wasn't allowed to eat the candy until that day's snack, even if it meant waiting many hours."

3. Kids can spend time playing by themselves, and that's a good thing. Pamela writes: "French parents want their kids to be stimulated, but not all the time...French kids are—by design—toddling around by themselves....'The most important thing is that he learns to be happy by himself,' [a French mother] said of her son....In a 2004 study...the American moms said that encouraging one's child to play alone was of average importance. But the French moms said it was very important."

4. Believe it when you tell your child "No." Pamela writes: "Authority is one of the most impressive parts of French parenting—and perhaps the toughest one to master. Many French parents I meet have an easy, calm authority with their children that I can only envy. When Pauline [a French toddler] tried to interrupt our conversation, Delphine [her French mother] said, "Just wait two minutes, my little one. I'm in the middle of talking." It was both very polite and very firm. I was struck both by how sweetly Delphine said it and by how certain she seemed that Pauline would obey her...I gradually felt my "nos" coming from a more convincing place. They weren't louder, but they were more self-assured."

Toby is still a pretty little dude (so who knows what will happen!), but thus far, we've basically followed (or tried to follow) similar parenting philosophies. They seem more like common sense than particularly French, although I think one real difference is that American women can feel (or be made to feel) guilty for carving out time for themselves or letting their babies play on their own. It's all about finding a balance that works best for you, your baby and your family.

I'm really curious: Do you agree with these parenting approaches? Do you disagree? Do you think these approaches are French, American, or universal? Were your parents strict, and are you? What parts of parenthood do you find trickiest? Are you inspired by any of these points? (I'm going to curb Toby's snacks.) Will you read the book? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!!!

P.S. Remember this marshmallow test for children?

(Top photo by The Sartorialist)

299 comments:

1 – 200 of 299   Newer›   Newest»
Judy said...

Not sure what's so French about these ideas. Seem like common sense, healthy boundaries and emotional intelligence to me. Susannah Meadows wrote an interesting review on the book in the NYT.

jillian :: cornflake dreams. said...

my fiance told me about this! v interesting stuff.. i think i might take a few notes for the future. xo

bloggirl said...

Hi! Uncanny timing, I just read ana article about this in the NYT. I do agree with her approach, and it served as a reminder that every moment serves as a teaching moment to our kids, even teaching them that instant gratification isn't normal...Ah, the art of patience! I sometimes get caught up in the frenzy of trying to appease my toddler and have to remind myself that he too, needs to learn that patience is a virtue ;)

Caroline, No. said...

Agree with the commenter who says it's not particularly French, just common sense. But then again, I'm British. I know parents who constantly engage with their children and seem to have no will to say 'no' to them. And those who don't.

A jumbled reply but I think I'm saying, there are no big cultural differences that I can see.

Danielle said...

I am dying to read this book. I'm skeptical, of course, about some of the generalizations, but I think the French are on to something. I expect that ideal is really a blend of different approaches, but it is refreshing to read about parents creating boundaries with kids and learning how to say no. I think it makes it easier to say yes more often!

Giulia said...

I have a good French friend who lives near me. She is the only one for whom I do not mind babysitting. In fact, it is a sincere pleasure. The children (13 months & 5-1/2 yrs) are fabulous, well-adjusted.

It's a breath of fresh air...

BTW, my friend (& my other friends who are in France) love their children & they talk about them but not the 24/7 running on at the mouth about every little thing. I have to ask them about little milestones, etc. usually to hear about them. Which is fine with me.

And yes, to all who freak out at this...they love love love their children.

Glad you posted on this, Joanna.

Joanna Goddard said...

My mom wrote this great email to me after she read the article.....

When you live in a place, the culture invades you. In France, we had family allowances and free part-time day care for you from age 0. (How lucky!) In England it was obvious that you should be in bed at 6:30pm. When we visited the U.S., kids stayed up until 9. What????? But if we had lived here, you probably would have had late bedtimes...

The sentence I love most is 'I was struck both by how sweetly Delphine said it and by how certain she seemed that Pauline would obey her.' That certainty is the key. I call it 'somatic conviction.' You feel it in your bones and you communicate that immovable expectation to your child. When a child whines for something and you follow through with no, you are saying, 'Let me teach you how to cope with not getting what you want every time.' Sometimes the child doesn't even want it really. Children are exhausted by whining and acting out, but have never learned that they can stop--what a relief to stop!

Liz said...

Have you read this review/commentary on the book? Another American woman raising children in Paris has a lot of interesting points...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paige-bradley-frost/french-better-parents_b_1260779.html

Definitely interested to read the book as an expat myself (in Holland). Not a mom yet, but very interested in the cultural differences in parenting in Europe.

Magalie said...

I am French and I can tell you this is not French, it is the fantasy about French people. I am a bit disappointed with this kind of books. An American woman, writer, sells books telling she discovered the "French way" of raising children, big publishing shot and that's it. I do not understand why on a lot of blogs and newspapers we read about this.

Kristen said...

i'm not a momma (yet), but i can tell you that my parents did all of these in some way. just like Judy said above in comments, i think it's establishing healthy boundaries for kids and i don't think it's necessarily a "French" way of parenting. i think it's a good way of allowing kids to know what's allowed and what's not.

Suse said...

Agree with Judy...and your Mother - it is how I was brought up (for the most part) and I think I turned out OK.

Hannah said...

I'd love to read the book. I think this is all very fascinating. I'd definitely like to take a similar approach to parenting when I hopefully have children. Though I'd definitely want to ensure that my kids got to be kids, and that I didn't raise them to be too mature too fast. Sometimes kids just need to run around and be a little crazy, I think, anyway.

alyssa said...

I AM SO GLAD YOU WROTE THIS POST!

i'm currently an au pair to 5 (yes, that's FIVE) french children in paris at the moment and it is quite the learning experience. I have to agree with everything I've read from this book so far.

I've been inspired to start writing posts on my own au pair experiences, mainly concerning the children's lifestyles and how different is it to nanny for French children...

xoxo
alyssa
we're au courant

Diana Mieczan said...

I am dying to read this book even though I'm not a mom yet. It's always very interesting to see how people raise their children in different cultures and how similar or different behaviours those children develop. For example how interesting was the Baby Documentary, right? Personally having a few French and European mom-friends I think that there is no right or wrong way of doing it as long as it creates a healthy, loving and emotionally stable environment for the child and the family :) Wonderful topic, Joanna. Have a fantastic Monday. xo

Beth said...

I think that just like in the USA there are some mighty pampered kids in France. And being an older parent I will say that it is the more pampered that seem to be the most incorrigble... I wonder if the book says anything on these lines... My kids are pretty respectful... Yes common sense!

Liliana Costa said...

Yes I'm also interesting about reading the book :)
Anyway, I think in Portugal we are not that different, but it also depends a lot in the relationship between parents and kids. Even with authority some kids just don't listen no matter what, others understand the message and behave really well.

But I enjoy the topic of comparing cultural differences, specially in what concerns to educating kids :)

btw, when I was a kid I had to go to bed early, around 20h's (we had a song in the television to say it was time for kids to go to bed), I had to eat soup and vegetables, and if I didn't I was not going to have anything else to eat.

What about you?

Jessie said...

exactly how i'm raising my daughter here in the US. common sense for sure!

Misty Hamel said...

I have to add my agreement to some of the previous comments in that I don't understand why this is being tied to French parenting. I am not convinced that there aren't different parenting methods in every country that is developed enough to be exposed to literature and media that talk about raising kids effectively. Another article recently linked by Design Mom

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/3632992/Is-Maman-mean-or-magnifique.html

talked about French mothers being "strict to the point of cruelty" and how that it has such a positive effect on children's behaviour. I think it's outrageous and not the answer for good parenting. Why are we all of a sudden enamored with French mothers for their supposed parenting methods. Let's use some common sense in raising our children and look to the French for style and food inspiration. Glass of wine anyone?

Anonymous said...

I'm a french canadian and we're raising our children mostly that way. But it is not like this in every family. The good-common sense is what use for our children. A little bit of the American way, a little bit of Europe...

Kim @ Say What?! said...

It makes me sooo happy to read this. I was raised this way and I am a responsible, emotionally healthy person. Meanwhile, I'm expecting my first, and the public health pre-natal classes here preach dropping everything to respond to your child IMMEDIATELY all the time to foster trust in the parent-child relationship. Of course because it's a public health class my immediate thought was "omg everything I ever thought about raising children is wrong and I will never have a life of my own ever again." I just don't believe we have to leave ourselves behind as adults to raise children and I have no intention of doing so.

Stella said...

Just as Judy said, these rules sound like common sense. I am a french girl raised in France by a french dad and an australian mom, and I never felt like the way I was raised was french (or australian for that matter) . It was just normal to eat three meals a day, plus a snack at 4 (we call it "goûter", which means "to taste" :), or to be in bed by 8:30pm, etc, just because we were kids and it was not for us to decide !
I guess this kind of book about French people is just a big fantasy, just like the one assuming we all eat camembert and baguette everyday...

Ballad of Seasons said...

I did babysitting for two years to two kids of a French family here in France, and I want to say every word up there is true!
It was so surprising for me to see that kids were going bed at around 20h30 (it's around midnight in where I'm coming from), and the 'NO's of parents were real NOs.

Another thing I've observed, kids were so independent! even the 5 year old one. They were doing all the things by themselves, and they seemed to love it.

Seriously, I felt like I was just there to be sure nothing bad happens to them, otherwise they were the most mature kids I've ever met! love French style! :)

Amy Klepser said...

Reading this book right now! Druckerman presents a no-nonsense, logical guide to raising children. I absolutely love the comparisons between American and French families, as well as how she points out the major differences. I've been nervous to have kids for quite some time, but Druckerman has shown me that instinct and logic can work together to push through the sludge of over-educated American parenting tactics. I'm actually excited to have kids now!

Maggie @ Sugarcoatedlife said...

I lived in France for awhile and was often impressed with the maturity children showed in restaurants. I also found that it refreshing to see adults enjoying themselves at wine bars, outdoor cafes, etc. while their children entertained themselves...and parents never endured disapproving looks if they sat their child at the bar with them. There are, of course, generalizations here, but I think a lot can be learned from it.

Maggie said...

Jordan Ferney tweeted this response article earlier today and I think it makes a lot of sense. Different parenting techniques for different cultural expectations.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paige-bradley-frost/french-better-parents_b_1260779.html

Alison said...

I do all of these things as a mama, and I'm not French. I read the article a few days ago and was confused as the lack of parenting advice meat. If this is indeed the French way of doing things, I suppose we could also call it "the logical way to raise a child." Oui?

Chapstick Fanatic said...

i wrote about this for my francophile friday post. there was some good dialogue: http://lachapstickfanatique.blogspot.com/2012/02/francophile-friday-bringing-up-bebe.html

Jamie said...

I'm not a parent, so who knows what I'll actually implement when that day comes, but I really appreciate these tips and thoughts on parenting. I was raised in a very respectful and somewhat strict home, and while I don't completely agree with the way my parents dealt with every situation (especially in my teens)I do appreciate how I was taught to respect people, situations and to be compassionate towards others. It kills me to watch children talk back to their parents, throw fits and possibly be ignored by their parents or given some sort of device to keep them quiet.
Some people might say I don't know what I'm talking about, but as in anything, I believe in learning by observation, both what I want to do and what I don't want to do.
And I may buy this book and read it. Just for kicks, and possible future kiddos.

Laura said...

I get frustrated the way the WSJ (and then everyone who covers after) makes it an "us versus them" discussion of who is better (ie, Tiger Mom) when it wasn't ever meant to be that way. I realize that generates the most responses and discussions, but it is still annoying that they think they have to pander to my "competitive mothering" to engage me in a parenting discussion? I also agree that it is silly to paint entire countries with such broad strokes. But still, I love hearing about what does and doesn't work for other parents. About the waiting to eat: I think everyone, kids and adults, should eat something every three hours. It is medically-based best practice. And I think teaching patience is great, but that marshmallow study later followed up with those kids and it pointed to a biological basis for the different reactions the the marshmallow...not a "Parisian" upbringing. Bottom line, I'd do anything somebody suggested to get my kids to become excellent dinner companions at a restaurant. I think a part of it is just practice and teaching, and my girls are so young, I'd rather just save those lessons for later and reserve dinners out for their dad and me.

Liliana Costa said...

I agree with you as well, I think it's common sense you can have any place in the world. For me it's more cultural and educational than actually country based

Jessica said...

I just read about her experience in the Wall St. Journal. I totally agree! It definitely seems like the kids are in control a lot these days. When we were out to dinner with my husband's family, his nephew was acting up. Instead of encouraging him to behave, my mother in law offered him a snack from her purse. We were both in shock and of course it didn't help the behavior. My siblings and I were pretty well behaved from what I can remember. I know if I was doing something I shouldn't, they just had to give me a look and I knew. We just knew what was appropriate behavior and what wasn't. Never screamed or threw tantrums. My mom said "I wouldn't allow it." However, I respected my parents, and received tons of love and support from them. I only hope I'll be able to do the same when we have kids, because I still want to be able to have adult conversations at gatherings!

Bethany said...

The thing is - and I direct this to all the "it's common sense" commenters - is that while it may seem simple and common, Americans are not good at common sense, self restraint, or patience. Culturally, we're impatient, over-indulgent, and insecure. These affect our parenting skills, and thus, you can't step into a restaurant without a crazed toddler and their parents ruining everyone else's dining experience...

That sounds negative, but having been abroad, I've personally witnessed the difference.

Un coup d'aile said...

i agree with judy. i am croatian, raised in germany and now living in france.
ant those things explained in the article can't be french... unless the parisiennes are different than other french women in France.. i have never seen or heard anything like that...

rachel kirk peterson said...

i am not a parent, but as someone who is around children quite a bit and will probably have children someday, i am going to order this book. i was talking to my mom the other day when she mentioned that she and my dad treated us kids like "second class citizens". at this point in my life, i like that they did that: we grew up respecting adults and knowing who the boss was, and also understood basic things like seniority rules. i have to say, 90% of the children i am around today think they are one of the adults because that is the way they are treated at home. it's not fun to be around them, or their parents; usually, the parents only talk to and about the children, and they engage their adult friends in conversations with and about the child, which can be awkward when that friend has no children and is mostly interested in adult conversation (like myself)! so, i tend to gravitate toward this set of principles, and actually really support it because when i am a parent, i do not want an interrupting, tantrum-throwing, hard to take in public child.

Jessica said...

i agree with some of these other comments. why is this "french" and not just reasonable and rational parenting? the four points you quote from are pretty general, not cultural, and seem like they could've been pulled from any parenting guide.

Leslie said...

Joanna, I read the same WSJ excerpt--and actually thought of you and your Motherhood Mondays series!! I was hoping you would write about this book, and I'm so glad you did in this post!

My daughter, like Toby, is still a young toddler, so I feel like I'm figuring this all out on the fly....but I'm trying hard not to give in all the time to tantrums and her inpatience. As a major generalization (and stereotype), American parents are very quick to want to "fix" everything, including any uncomfortable situation their child might be in. When I'm not busy being a mom, I'm also a high school teacher, so I've seen it in my own teenage students, too--some of them have never heard the word "no" from an adult and had to accept it. I often think of that when I'm dealing with my own child....how do I want her to be able to cope with things not just now, but 5, 10, 20 years in the future? Those seeds for coping are planted at a young age and have a huge effect down the road.

I'm rambling, but the point is that I want to read the book and I hope we can continue this conversation.

NotesFromAbroad said...

I see nothing "French" about these Common Sense, Old Fashioned But Tried & True ways to rear a child.
I grew up in the US South, lived in many states and now another continent and I see the same thing here .
They don't want to be their children's best friends or playmates, the parents remain parents and guide and love and teach their children.
Common sense and manners go a long way in raising a child. .

kaitlin said...

As much as it may seem like common sense, there does seem to be a trend towards helicopter parenting in North America. As a result, I see this as a reminder that other cultures have parenting attitudes that one can learn from - for better of worse.

I think rachel's comment about treating children like 'second class citizens' is especially poignant, because there is this feeling that children should have the same rights as adults, and that's not true.

Simone said...

I do think that there is definitely a uniquely French/Parisian attitude to children - which is somewhat shared by the British and other European countries. I don't think it is shared by the US. And yes, I do think that the cultures are very very different!! Some of what the author says is common sense - I've read several different reviews/articles on the book - some of it is particularly French and I'm not sure if I would even want to emulate it.

I probably won't be reading the book, I think it will be slightly patronising and it's just not me.

Joanna Goddard said...

rachel, that's a fascinating point. my mom used to have a t-shirt that said, "because i'm the mom, that's why." :) i actually loved that my parents were super strict; i think it makes kids feel safe and cared for when they know their routine and what to expect from their day and NOT to have to make every decision for themselves. a child's life is already so exciting, new and confusing that it's a kind and reassuring and wonderful thing to give them fair, loving and clear boundaries.

La Nomade Gourmande said...

Ok, so I'm french and read this doesn't seems like "french rules" for parenting but common sense. But now after reading this, Im wondering how american raise their children if those rules seems so great !

Jana Miller said...

This is how I raised my children and I'm not French. Our motto always was, Children are a welcome addition to our family, not the center of it. Consequently I still have a great marriage now that my kids are 18 and 20.

I gave them room time as they dropped their naps. They were to play quietly in their rooms alone for a specified period of time. They learned how to play alone and how to be creative. I would give them a couple small boxes of toys but they never had full reign to everything.

This gave me time to be a better mom too. We started with 15 minutes in a play pen before they could crawls so they got used to being in there. Then worked our way up to 2 hours. Quiet time replaced nap time as they got older.

One of my sons didn't like it so much but he learned to tolerate it and I think it's made him a better adult.

I also put my kids to bed by 7 each night-sometimes 6:30 and both of them would sleep about 11-12 hours up until elementary school. This gave my husband and I couple time in the evenings.

SKC said...

I read a review on this book a while ago and really liked the common sense approach the author takes to child raising. But as a junior high teacher for the past four years, I have learned that unfortunately most parents take the LEAST common sense approach to child raising. I will definately check out this book, but think I have learned more about how I will (and will not) raise/parent/discipline my children as a teacher than any book will teach me.

Vanessa said...

I'm French (Canadian) and a very far way off of having children (at least 5 years). I have read the French Women Don't Get Fat books (out of curiosity of why) and realized that a lot of what was in that book was stuff that my mom had taught me almost implicitly as she raised me. I mostly saw that book as articulating something many of us (of French descent) know. I would think this book would be much the same thing. As I think of having kids in the near-ish future, I am very intrigued by the dialogue on raising children. In North America I think that in general it seems that parents hover over (wrong word, but the right one is escaping me) their children too much. This is especially evident in the school system, there's a comic that's been circulating of a teacher in 1960 where the student didn't do well, and the parents are with the teacher scolding the boy. In 2010 the scenario is reversed, with the parents are with the boy scolding the teacher.

Anonymous said...

I was a part-time nanny to two boys of French parentage who used all of these techniques. They were two of the most POORLY behaved children I have ever had the "pleasure" to take care of. Yes, they could play alone. However, they had zero respect for their poor parents.

RuBee said...

I'm not a parent but a teacher of 4-7 year olds and I agree with so many of these points, especially believing yourself when you say no. Children can hear defeatism in your voice and if you really mean no then tone rather than volume can convey that. I also think that whilst it's good for children to be able to get along with others they should be able to play by themselves and occupy themselves. Sometimes it's the best way to develop their independence and imagination. So many of the points just seem common sense to me.

Chase, Paige, baby Link said...

I love how she redirects her toddler after interrupting her conversation. Firm but soft and calm seems to get the point across much easier than raising your voice and getting angry. Love that advice.

sumslay said...

I can't say what's French or not French, but I do agree that parents are way too obsessive over their children here in the US. They seem to get everything they want and seem to be head of the household.

I definitely agree with all of these, but especially adult time. I was by far the youngest (and no, not a surprise - the only one after Roe vs. Wade, as I tell my siblings), and I knew if I wanted to hang with my parents there would be words they said that I could not say. I was, however, in other ways spoiled (I'm of the everyone gets a ribbon generation), and I gotta say - that either turns people into ruthless people with no morals who will get whatever they want at whatever cost oooor will turn into me, who spent most of her 20's coming to terms that life isn't what you expect and you don't always get what you want (PS: That sucks).

Champagne Cocktails, Cashmere Dreams said...

I think this makes so much sense. Especially the part about letting your children playing by themselves. They have to learn to entertain themselves on their own merit, with their own imagination, and using their own skills. If parents are constantly planning activities to entertain their child, how will they ever learn what motivates them, what interests them and what makes them tick?

http://champagnecocktailscashmeredreams.blogspot.com

Becka said...

As a social Anthropologist and cultural researcher I find books like this slightly irritating. For a start these 'parenting rules' probably apply to a small fraction of elite French women rather than the majority of French women. I think parenting can be good or bad, firm or casual across many cultures and it has much more to do with social and economic status than which culture you're from.

Culture is also very transient in our modern day world and I find books like these creating stereotypes about 'mysterious French women' that other women seem so ready to buy into.

Give me some well-researched cultural studies and then maybe I'd believe it.

Anna said...

Americans love all things French... ;) But it sure is interesting!

Caroline said...

French or no, these seem like sage guidelines and I will definitely be reading this book. I have a 2.5 year old daughter and have been attempting to raise her similarly. We have always mandated a strict early bedtime (never after 8 pm) as this seems to be good for her AND my husband and I can have much needed adult time. My mother was always opposed to "ruining supper" with snacks and I think I have picked this up from her. Unless you are consistently giving vegetables as snacks, they usually are never as nutritious as a meal. Also, we all sit together for dinner, and it's ideal to have a strong appetite! Early on I read Dr. Michel Cohen's (Tribeca pediatrics) New Basics babycare book (fabulous)and have been following his advice not to become a made-to-order chef. Our daughter eats what we eat (scallops, broccoli, brown rice, bean stews, steak........) and if she feels like being "picky" then that is her choice not to eat (but there is nothing else). It is hard sometimes b/c she is so thin (but so are my husband and me and the grandparents), but I am reassured by 2 things: 1)no child will starve herself--if she doesn't eat a lot at one meal, she will make up for it later and 2)I always think of children in very poor rural regions (like this village I stayed in in Ecuador for 6 weeks with no electricity or running water) and how the idea of children refusing what they are given to eat get something else would be unfathomable. My husband and I also tend to be very strict discipline-wise. We do time-outs and follow through every time. it seems to work. We also entirely ignore inevitable 2 year old temper tantrums (I figure she is learning to deal with her emotions, but doesn't need any attention). Anyway, it's also a learning process as a parent so I am eager to hear how other people do it successfully. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I loved this book! One of the aspects that I found so intriguing and something that I couldn't believe that more people didn't comment on was the importance that the French place on "le couple".

Kristin Farries Golemon said...

I read this article in the paper last weekend! Being a music teacher to ages 2-11, this information came in quite handy. I implemented her reccomendations and saw IMMEDIATE results with my students! Thanks for sharing this!

Kristin Golemon

www.lovehislovehers.blogspot.com

Lady Grey said...

I totally agree with these points, especially the first one... not that it sounds easy to master!
xo

Joanna said...

It is a great reminder to all of us, as adults we need to exercise patience too and help our children learn. I agree that these are not french ideas, it's simply a healthy approach to life and raising a balanced family... something we don't often see publicly in American culture.

Sarah said...

This is exactly how I have been brought up and I don´t think they are ground-breaking or anything like this :)
I am from Germany and everyone I know how has children or if I look back to my own childhood and to being at my friends places, we always played by ourselves, bedtime was at 7:00 pm without discussions and we had no business on the living room after this time.
Love it that you posted this because I feel a lot of parents may be steering in a different direction by letting their children be grown-ups by allowing them all they want.

Patricia Villamil said...

I agree with Judy, and some of the other girls, not sure how this was labeled French parenting, I'd say is a very old-school with a few tweaks parenting. I was raised similarly in a Hispanic family. I think it's what other women have commented that just because it's labeled French, it must be the BEST. I'm sorry to say this is not a French invention, and they have lovely inventions, but just a culture adjustment in parenting. As a DOminican-American, raising my first kid away from family (both my husband's and mine) your world becomes very insular and you tent to overcome this by saturating yourself with all the information that's out there. As a new mom, I committed the mistake early on of reading so much that I kind of blocked my instincts and didn't even want to follow my mother's or grandmother's advice. Well, it turned out to a dumb mistake that many young women make when they have kids in this competitive, insular society. That's why I read the article , but I won't be buying this book.

Anonymous said...

Have you read Parenting with Love and Logic? I'm curious how you think it compares, esp in regards to allowing your kids to make choices vs. having them hear "no" all the time?

Casey Elizabeth Ruble said...

This isn't JUST the French way to parent if you ask me. My parents brought up my siblings and I with every single one of these ideas. I've worked at daycares and babysat so many kids and I've seen the effects of what terrible parenting (aka, not using these philosophies) can be like. I plan on raising my children someday with these philosophies in mind.

Malorie said...

I almost ordered this book to read for fun...but then I saw the author on the Today Show...she was wearing a beret in the video clip of her around Paris with her kids AND she was wearing the same beret in the studio. A beret, really? I couldn't take her seriously, am I alone?!

Anonymous said...

On a recent 8 hour transatlantic flight I was seated next to a French couple and their young daughter. I can assure you that at least some French children misbehave, cry and throw tantrums just like their American counterparts.

Lindsay R said...

i read another article on it somewhere this morning. i think it's quite interesting. i believe a lot of children lack respect in authority towards adults these days so it's nice to see that some still have it.

going to get that book~

Lindsay

p.s. i'm still dreaming about your bedroom decor. i honestly want to copy and paste it into my own-- especially those bright colors.

Caitlin said...

I had pretty strict American parents who believed in bedtimes, learning to play by yourself and that "no means no". I also had a French nanny for a few years.

My nanny said that she beleived that American parents did cater to their children much more than French parents ever would, however she also saw my 16 year old cousin sit in her mom's lap during a family vacation and she remarked how she thought it was so sweet and loving and how a 16 year old French girl would never still show such affection for her mother.

I think that good parenting is not about the country, but about one's own culture, ideas and boundaries.

Ashley said...

As a mother of a four month old, I agree with adult time. It's not just important, it's crucial for mother and father to feel like adults. As a server in a restaurant, I love the idea of children being engaged in conversation and table manners. The majority of children are wired into electronic games, i-pods, phones, texting, or watching movies. I believe this is problematic because this generation of children aren't learning to navigate socialization. I would love to read this book.

Sara said...

I agree with most of the other posters, that this type of parenting would come naturally. As a mom to two young boys (4 and 9 months), I can say that is really, REALLY hard to not have children be the focus of the family, and I am not a helicopter mom, I promise! I can see as they grow older this changes as they gain more independence. This is coming from a parent who adores her adult time, adult conversations and time with her partner. Young children are incredibly demanding and consuming - no matter what culture one lives in!

Jenevieve said...

Although I agree that certainly not all Americans are "bumbling fools", I do believe that Americans in particular tend to indulge their children thus aiding an attitude of entitlement.

That is why this book seems so refreshing, and I hope to be able to get my hands on it before too long. It does seem like common sense, and teaching your children self-reliance and patience early on will take them far in life. And naturally, that's what I want for my child.

Margaret H. said...

This is how I was raised and how I am raising my children. In a local mom's group I participate in, I only know one mom out of twenty who is like the stereotypical American mom portrayed in the book.

By the way, I was very surprised when traveling in Paris recently at the number of older kids (4,5 maybe 6 yrs old) being strolled around with pacifiers in their mouths.....we all have room for improvement.

Anonymous said...

My brother-in-law is French and he has a very distant relationship with his parents. His parents never played with him or changed their pre-baby lifestyle in anyway. I could never have that distance from my daughters. It would hurt too much.

julie said...

i am reading it on my iPad now. such a good book, very insightful!

Daniella said...

I definitely agreed with these concepts. I'm so curious to read this book! These seem like fairly obvious ideas, but it's about being firm and also recognizing that as an adult you're still entitled to adult time, even if you have kids.

Can't wait to pick this one up...

megan said...

I love all pf these and (try to) subscribe to them myself . . . all but one - I absolutely don't believe in the "cry it out" method - if my baby cried, I picked him up! It felt natural to me and felt right. And a new study actually agrees with this philosophy! http://www.mnn.com/family/babies-pregnancy/blogs/should-you-let-your-baby-cry-it-out

Christian said...

I've been reading the press surrounding this book and I have to say, it really gets under my skin. Not only for the generalizations, but also for the narrow look at child rearing. Its just so, so much more complex then this romanticized "philosophy" makes it out to be.

*My biggest issues are the long-term affects of punitive parenting.* I'd take a little person who questions, and pushes boundaries over one who complies any day for what those traits look like down the road. (dealing with peer pressure, challenging norms)

The behavior of a child with a punitive parent watching will be very different from that child's behavior when there is no outside authority guiding them. I don't have the link handy but one of the responses to this book was that the French kids were ruthless on the playground, a bit like Lord of the Flies. (I think it was a NYT's op-ed piece but I could be totally off on that.)

In any case, Alan Scroufe, who has been studying attachment for about 40 years and has incredible data to show that even in very high risk populations, promoting attachment is the best thing you can do for a kid for any kind of successful outcome. Scroufe has been following approximately 187 families for these forty years. He's now studying the second and third generations.

For me, attachment theory is much more in line for the kind of people I'd like to raise.

Also, until you have an "out of of the box" type of child - like ONE of mine is- its really hard to fathom that for some children entertaining themselves or sitting quietly in a high chair is absolutely impossible.

Also, I really dislike how Everyone has different ideas of what is best for other people's kids. Just like Cry It Out "works" depends on what your definition of "works" is.

baballa said...

i'm not sure if this is a french thing, here in spain is the same thing, my boys know that if i'm talking by the phone they have tto wait or that 8 p.m. is parents time Tv , they can be with us but no cartoons allowed! We have 4 meals and thats it.
i spent a few summers in U.S. and know as a mother i realize how different is education in US than Europe.

ana {bluebirdkisses} said...

i definitely think its mostly common sense advice. With the exception of the crying it out... we don't rush right in to pick baby J up if we hear him wake up, but if he cries we go right in. My son sleeps through the night and I never had to let him cry.

Sarah @ Cole's First Blog said...

I love the idea of "French" parenting, but I'm not 100% convinced it would work the same way even if you tried to do it the same way in the US. I definitely agree with the setting boundaries aspect, and teaching children some patience, but I wonder how much of the difference is inherent to the culture as a whole, not just within the specific household. I can control my parenting, but I can't control how people interact with my child when we're in public, you know?

elisa said...

Joanna - I love your mom's email! She is so insightful. It IS exhausting for children to whine and have tantrums. I think our generaton has forgotten that you can be firm AND loving.

I just had a playdate with some friends this morning and they were talking about this book. Might be my next download, I'm definitely intruiged!

Maud said...

So, I was raised in the US by two french parents and have a couple thoughts/responses to comments above:

1)The methods in this book may not be exclusive to the French, but I can attest to the fact that it is EXACTLY how I was raised. 4PM snack time, NEVER throw a tantrum in public, and parents have the final word. Bed times are early and strictly adhered to, and if you want to go to a restaurant or spend dinner with your parents, that is "adult time" and you should act accordingly.

2) In response to the huffington post article that claims the child rearing ways are different because US and French parents have different motivations: This does not mean that the lessons from one culture cannot be useful to their French/American counterparts. I was raised with French values, but I can honestly say that it made me an independent and successful young adult here in the states. Conversely, some values I picked up from US schools and culture have made me more creative then my cousins in France.

Just my 2 cents...

Anna said...

I read an excerpt in the WSJ and immediately preordered the book...I haven't been able to put it down! There definitely needs to be a balance in any parenting style, but I think there's a lot of wisdom in these French parenting traditions that have been passed down through generations...and most are backed by research and science that even our American parenting experts agree with.

Karelys (Beltran) Davis said...

I love that you mention those points and that they are not particularly french but common sense (though it may be more common in france?).

I recognize lots of those things in my upbringing and I'm mexican.

I think it's also good for the kid because they know boundaries rather than guessing all the time and not knowing why they got in trouble.

when I was scared of having children and then having no life i realized that i was looking at common examples around me but that i was better off remembering my parents being parents. The "adult time" point resonates a lot with how my parents did it.

I'd get SOOO bored during their friends' get togethers but I had to figure out how to entertain myself and that involved lots of reading, coloring, exploring, etc.

tamara said...

I'm not a parent, but I do think these points seem like good ones. I also think that we (speaking generally) need to stop placing European cultures on a pedestal. I'm not anti-European by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel like "cool" Americans are so quick to think that anything European is automatically hip and cool just by virtue of where it comes from.

Carrie Lynn said...

I am actually quite pleased to see these "rules" laid out! I feel like I have been following these because I have been following my heart with my little one, but I have also been looked down on for it. For example, we let our little one play in her crib alone in the mornings instead of picking her up right away when she wakes up. We let her play by herself in her room. We let her cry out her frustrations of mobility and cheer for her when we see her figure it out. She is 7 months old, and there is much room for change since she is so young, but so far we take her to movies and out to eat and have not once had to remove her because she was disruptive. Most of this could probably be attributed to her personality more than my parenting style, but I feel validated nonetheless!

third room studio said...

I love the idea of 'somatic conviction', it's what my mother taught me with my children, and it's true. I don't agree that this approach is necessarily French, and many of the (Australian) mothers I know, including myself, follow these sorts of guidelines instinctively. It's very easy to guess the mothers who don't, based on their child's behaviour (clingy, whiny, and not especially pleasant to be around!)

Aline said...

I'm a French reader and have never thought I was raising my baby boy in some particular French way ...is there a french way? Maybe there is, maybe there isn't. I think the best way of raising your child is just doing the best you can, with all your heart, giving him all the love there is ...I am sure that's universal, not French!

Jo said...

Hi, Joanna,

I'm honestly walking away with more from what your mom said in her e-mail than the gist of the "French" guidelines...

I might try the book but like most of the ladies that commented here, I'm getting the notion that nothing about this "French parenting" is unique to the French culture or the people... (I'm an Asian-born, Asian-raised mommy of two boys born and being raised here...)

Thanks for yet another great post! :-)

Jessie said...

This is fascinating to me as an American mama living in Iceland. There has been some debate among other expats here about some of the differences in parenting styles. Children are expected to be in play schools from an early age here, even if one parent is staying at home (which is very rare), and discipline is, er... rare, which is evident in the way some kids and teens behave. Children don't seem to play by themselves very much.

It makes me feel almost stern and cold sometimes saying no to my child (even though I know I am not!), but reading these kinds of things -- which do seem like common sense -- just reinforces to me that I should continue to follow my instinct over what might be expected. Hopefully, I will manage to raise a kind, respectful child. :)

Robyn said...

The idea that evening is adult time doesn't really fly in a family of two full-time working parents. Since mornings are focused on eating/grooming/getting out the door, evenings are typically the only time we have in the day to actually talk with our kids, help them with homework, etc. How selfish it would be of us to regularly deny them our attention so we can enjoy a leisurely glass of wine, go see a show or perhaps tune them out in favor of the TV.

This book seems to contain some ideas worthy of consideration, though very few if any that I haven't heard before from non-French authors/doctors. I, for one, will not be devoting any of my precious adult time to reading this book.

Anonymous said...

In general, I think we may get slightly offended as American moms but the book speaks a lot of truth. But, I don't think this is exclusive to French parents....it seems to apply to a lot of non-American parents (my Italian, Latin American, Carribean and German friends have all resonated with this piece).

In America for the past 20-30 years we seem to hover over our children more and also encourage disrespectful behavoir. Mostly I think this is not on purpose, but to smile/laugh when a young child says "NO!" to an adult, not take a firm stand when the child refuses to eat their food, or not support teachers when they bring up a problem with a child all reinforces the idea that children are more important than adults. It's what has driven the last few generations and makes kids become adults who are entitled and spoiled.

I don't think this is purposeful, but at some point we shifted from being above (that is SO not the right word but I can't think of anything else) our children to trying to make them our equals at 4 and 5 years old! There is no sense of adult time. There is no strict bedtimes and punishments for disturbing adult conversations.

So, yes the book is good. But not exclusively French. It would actually be very similar to how our Grandmothers and Grandfathers raised our parents...or how some of us were raised (depending on age). We should get back to that!

All that to say, I all excited about reading this book! Should be an interesting read :)

Karaugh said...

I saw this author on the Today show and I couldn't help but think she looked a tad ridiculous based simply on the way she "over-wore" her French beret. I agree with these parenting tips, although I would not say they are exclusively French. My parents raised me and my siblings with these approaches inadvertently in mind; for me, most of it sounds like common sense. The best parenting coach for me has been to be a babysitter and expose myself to lots of different types of children with many types of parents. I feel as though I'm compiling an arsenal of what does (and does not) work for when I have my own kids someday!

margaux said...

thanks for posting! can't wait to get this book! i'm expecting a daughter in april, and my husband and i constantly talk about how we'd like to parent, and this sounds like a book that's right up our parenting philosophy alley. we spent the weekend with a couple and their daughter, and while she's lovely and adorable, we left feeling like her parents hovered too much and made her the 100% focus at all times. i understand that inclination, but don't think it leads to good things for kids in the long run for children. anywhoo... if you like this book and philosophy, i would bet you would love this article in the atlantic monthly. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/how-to-land-your-kid-in-therapy/8555/?single_page=true

Lacey said...

I'm an American living in France (but not Paris!!) with a French husband and a 3 month old baby girl. All of our friends have children and I can attest to the fact that there are just as many "well-behaved" and "bratty" (and everything in-between) kids here as back in the States. Maybe in Paris it's different...? But at any rate, as so many others have already stated here, these rules don't seem to be specific to the French culture.

And on a slightly related topic, I was shocked to discover how few women breastfeed here in France. I was literally the only breastfeeding mom in the maternity ward during my stay. Does anyone here know if Druckerman addresses that in her book and, if so, how that figures into her theories on French child rearing?

Ana Hayedi said...

The author of the article was speaking to a very specific type of American parent. I would not say that the majority, or even a sizable percentage, of Americans parent their children in the manner dictated by the author. I also found the article incredibly patronizing. As if an American mother has never said "no" with conviction to her child!

Tanya said...

I know it's not just a French thing but the rest of the world too. I grew up in Manila and was taught to respect the elders and wait. At a young age we were taught not to bother our parents when they're having a conversation with other adults. Unless it's a life or death situation, you wait until your parent is done talking and then that's when you can tell them whatever it was you wanted to tell them.

diana said...

I don't agree at all. Common sense, yes, but the French way, no way. And I'm speaking as a close observer as my husband is French (I'm Romanian). What makes me bewildered is that I still have to meet a French person able to accept and love oneself. My husband and I, we've been together for 15 years and through a lot of a lot, yet he still doesn't believe I really love him, because he doesn't believe he's worthy. And he tells me (but not often) that he's so jealous of the obvious love I share with my parents. HIS PARENTS NEVER TOLD HIM THEY LOVED HIM OR THAT THEY ARE PROUD OF HIM. He's 43.

Kate said...

The excerpt in the WSJ was so patronizing and unbearable ("don't get me wrong, I don't want my kids to grow up to be snotty Parisians!" GAG ME WITH A SPOON)and pandering to the "I-hate-the French-because-they-didn't-follow-us-into-Iraq" crowd that I could hardly bring myself to finish the excerpt.

This stuff isn't French: it's common sense! Am I supposed to be impressed that there are kids out there who know please and thank you, and don't speak out of turn? Please. She had to "realize...my daughter is proud of her independence." Is there some underlying theme of parenting that is NOT to celebrate a child's independence?

Kids fall, kids get back up. I never got fawned over for a scraped knee, I was told "woah, big fall! what a battle scar! now go play more."

Siobhan said...

I think I just got more out of your mum's last sentence than from the article I read in the NYT. Don't get me wrong, I think the author of the book addresses very good parenting techniques. I just think some of us need reminding of them, others don't. Some of us are so struck by having to please our children and speak to them on such friendly terms all the time, others set boundaries and give firm expectations (and get called a meanie in the process!). I don't think these techniques are exclusively French, they are common sense. But we all know that there's nothing common about sense :)

Jessica said...

I listened to a really interesting NPR interview with the woman who wrote this book the other day. This is very similar to how I was raised in England. I'll be interested to read it.

Beth said...

Just finished the book on Kindle. As a mother of 4, I found it interesting. I especially agree that the way the French teach their kids to eat is preferable over how american children eat. Yes, a lot of the the advice is common sense, but I think that what's interesting is that the french take these common sense ideas for granted, assume everyone knows how to get a child to sleep through the night at 2 months, etc. Americans might research 10 different parenting methods, and try them all.
Think the book is worth reading, especially if you have very young children. Doesn't hurt to be reminded to vary your kids' diets from infancy, teach them to respect elders, show them how to wait, etc.

ellen said...

Oh How I wish I had this book when mine were little...could have saved alot of stress! :) I am going to buy this book and give at every baby shower~

Jenny said...

I've read the book (it came out in England a month or so ago) and it really helped me. I was struggling a bit with worrying about whether I was following the 'right' parenting philosophy for how I wanted my daughter to be raised, and this book helped me to realise that I need to rely on my own common sense most of all. I also liked the 4 points that you outlined and they are what I already implicitly believe in but they had got lost in all the noise of the parenting styles that I had kept hearing about. I feel a lot more confident to raise Mia the way I want to now. Mainly: to have certain strict boundaries that mustn't be crossed but with LOADS of freedom within those boundaries.

Kirsten @ Triple Max Tons said...

I think it makes total sense, and is healthy for parents and children to have a bit of 'alone' time. I don't think Americans are bumbling idiots at all, but I do think that we HOVER over kids too much. I don't have kids yet myself, but it's just an observation I've made from being an aunt to 13 nieces and nephews!

The Michelle Show said...

For everyone claiming that it is 'common sense' - Please remember that common sense really is not common at all, ESPECIALLY in North America. How many wild, screaming children run their house holds now? That are the boss of the family, ect.? Most parents don't even realize that they have little authority over their families anymore.

Sara B. said...

As a mother to a 3 year old with my second due in August, I cannot wait to read this book! While I don't think whether or not this style of parenting is particularly "French" is all that relevant, I do think it's always useful and reassuring to read up on different ways of parenting our children. I personally have been struggling with remaining firm and calm in the face of a screaming and defiant preschooler and am open to learning new ways of getting my husband, child and myself through these years with our sanity intact!

Alexa said...

I was a nanny all through college and spent a summer as an au pair in Munich, and the differences in opinion on raising children are truly fascinating to me.

My upbringing was a little unconventional (my parents demanded manners and "yes, ma'am/no, ma'am," but I didn't have a bedtime and could watch R movies), so I plan on implementing more structure when I have my own children while fostering the same independence my parents encouraged in me.

No matter how you spin it, parenting is HARD. Cheers to thoughtful, conscious parents.

G. said...

I'm from there, and totally agree. I'm living here in the US since 3 years and I still don't get why raising your children like over protecting them, it's driving me crazy here. When I have friends with kids it makes me uncomfortable, because I don't know how to act with their kids.

Abigail said...

When I opened the article, I was expecting some tips that I had never heard of, but these all seemed familiar to me in one way or another. They are good tips nonetheless. :) My mom followed most of these--except for the established parent time. She is a single mother and has devoted herself entirely to her children since we were born. She is an incredible mother, but now that I am older, I do wish that there had been some way for her to have "me" time without feeling like she had to pay more money than she had for a babysitter.

The strict meal times seemed a little...well, strict to me the first time through this post. But I do think that there is a lot of truth to that. I am a babysitter, and when I am visiting the families I babysit for, I sometimes notice that the parents are too lenient with snacks. That becomes a pain when I serve up a great dinner, and the kids aren't hungry enough to eat it. I think that meal times need to be enforced, but when out and about, I don't think that I could be as strict as the French mother. I like munching on goodies immediately after buying them. Sometimes they just look too good! I wouldn't want to make my (future) children do something that I, myself, don't do.

http://intothethicket.blogspot.com/

Dalton said...

I so appreciate that you acknowledge that American woman can be made to feel guilty for carving out "me time". I think finding the balance between time with your kids and time for yourself- whether you work outside the home or stay home with your children- is imperative to creating a healthy family life. I also think it's incredibly important behavior to model for your kids. I'm curious to know what others think too. Why do you think so often mom's are made to feel guilty about setting aside time for themselves? Is it society? Is it other woman? I wonder...

Jessica said...

Well . . . jeez. This is exactly how my parents raised my brothers and I in New England. (This is also the behavior I see among many of my friends with children in New York.) I hate that anything American is stereotyped as being fat and dumb in comparison to that of Europeans.

-Disgruntled (but well-raised) American Girl from Massachusetts.

Susan said...

People seem to have misunderstood so though probably no one is reading comments by now, I'll still say:

Of course it is not "just" French parenting. I saw a lot of comments saying that...it's that there is a style & it's not every single French person. I lived in Alsace. There was an attitude of children being children & not the boss of everyone.

If there isn't a problem with spoilt children in America, then why does the article (& accompanying interviews, etc) resonate so with us? Even for those who do not have children?

And the food thing is essential. I am so pleased to have to give water in a bottle to a baby I look after sometimes. It is what my mother did, too, in the 1960s & she's not French. BUT. It is not that common here in the United States of Apple Juice.

Anyway, it's annoying that this woman was apparently silly in her French worship on the Today Show (I didn't see it but saw many comments). But she just might be pointing out something of value for those who cannot seem to bring themselves to tell a child "not now, " "no," or "it's time for bed" (at 8pm).

Cheers.

Charlotte said...

I don't yet have a child, but plan to have babies at some point in the future - I will definitely be reading this in anticipation of that.. this is the kind of parent I want to be! Its important to have boundaries, and as polite child is definitely the dream

Anonymous said...

I am curious to read this book. I'm intrigued by the ideas I've read. But, my friend lived in France for years, and rolled her eyes about this book and said, "they're not great parents, and those kids aren't happy." Plus, they get a nanny for free for the first 6 mos, and don't have to worry about things like insurance, or paying for college, and work 30-35 hour weeks...it's such a different culture, it's hard to compare.

Anonymous said...

i absolutely do not agree with letting a baby cry and not pick it up, comfort it, etc. it is a BABY. a large portion of doctors will tell you that at that age, you cannot teach a baby those things. a baby WILL thrive on comfort though. i DO agree with learning to play alone. i feel like my parents were very big on this and it has taught me to be very self sufficient. i have plenty of friends that can't stay home alone on a friday night, sunday afternoon, etc and that is a very unfullfilling way to live. what happens if someone finds themselves not in a relationship at the age of 40 when most people are married? what are you going to do, go play with the 25 yr olds at the bar? no...you need to find ways to enjoy your time alone.

Moonlight said...

Well this is how I was raised. Perhaps I could say that this is the European way of growing up children in the 1990s, as now everyone in the EU is kind of trying to copy the American (life)style. :p

Anna Culp said...

I read that article (and several others about French parenting, lately). I encourage my toddler to play independently not because of French influence, but because of my developmental philosophies, supported by Montessori practices. Maria Montessori was Italian, but that doesn't mean I'm doing things "the Italian way". I agree with you that the article was condescending, but interesting. I'm not interested in the book because the author irritated me, but I am interested in general culture studies on parenting practices around the world. I've tried to tell my (Finnish) mom that in Finland children are sometimes overindulged, but she resisted that accusation. And "American" is just so varied, it's hard to put a finger on the "typical".

VintageDanielle said...

I really like the "French" parenting, seems to me common sense, setting boundaries, and not being your child's friend.

Sally Mae said...

It is definitely appealing to be a glamorous mom. With sites like The Glow and books like this I find myself sort of striving to seem like I am a confident mom and woman...even though I am just wingin it and totally have baby spit-up on my cowl neck sweater. My neighbor is French and her little bebe just seems so much more sophisticated, but it's probably because she will be bilingual and her mom makes her cookies called almond crescents instead of chocolate chip. But, I do like the advice of "adult time" which will probably be easier when my baby is older than 3 months...he sees WAY more of my breasts than my husband has lately. ;) But, part of me really wants to be that "silly mom" who plays with her kids and sings and dances and reads stories and makes popcorn and hangs out with them in the evening because I was away at work all day. Isn't that what it's all about?

jo jo jane said...

my parents where very mellow about nearly everything.
i'm not really sure how that affected us, but i enjoyed spending my summers biking around town, writing late blog posts, and eating plenty of sweets.
that probably doesn't sound very appealing to experienced mothers, but i strongly agree that parents should give there kids some space without not being apart of there lives.
this whole post had many great points and suggestions.

Jessica @ Lavender and Lilies said...

I need to read it. Sounds pretty good. I do worry about my daughter having to be stimulated constantly and the constant snacking. She is only 9 months so I find myself constantly worrying if I'm digging myself into a hole.

mamma in columbus said...

I too wonder how "French" Druckerman's tips are. There are common sense choices that make the lives of both parent and baby healthy and enjoyable. When bedtimes are extended or playtimes are too structured, then the balance between our roles is undone and everyone is unhappy - moms get stressed and toddlers get clingy and demanding! My husband, who is Italian, is constantly encouraging me to let our daughter play on her own. Sometimes when I turn my head from whatever I am doing in the kitchen to watch her at her toy kitchen, I am always tickled to see her imagination at work!
The author did get one thing right, she's the talk of the playground!

Jasmi said...

Interesting how everyone flocks to and respects this "French" parenting style and positively loathed Amy Chua's "Tiger Mom" philosophy last year... Any thoughts, Joanna's "lovelies?"

Charity said...

I just ordered this book yesterday after seeing Druckerman on the Today Show. I don't yet have children, but I have noticed when traveling in Europe how well-behaved the young children are in public, in restaurants especially, as compared to what I see in the States. I'll be interested to glean some good information from this book for my future parenting.

http://atallshipandastar.blogspot.com/

Jen X said...

I think this woman just wants to sell books. I read the WSJ article last week and these are not "French" child raising beliefs. In fact, these are quite universal!

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I just happened to find your blog, where you are is so different from my world, neat to see all of the different stuff! Very nice photos, I am an artist but take photos to reference for paintings. Thanks, Gill

Mini said...

I think this is great. I'm not french, I was born in latin america but my mom actually raised us by doing these very things. Even today all of my nephews and nieces have slept through the night as babies. My mom always encouraged us to play on our own, I never felt discontent by doing so. We had pretty strict meal times and we would never be allowed to snack without asking her first. Even if we didn't like the food she would always put it on our plate encouraging us to at least try it and to eat healthy. I agree with other readers, these things are just common sense.

Jill Kolinski said...

Oh my gosh, I don't buy that ALL Americans raise hellcats for children but I do know that all of my friends are American and their children are NOT very enjoyable to be around. It is impossible to make it through a telephone conversation without them interrupting me, the adult, to respond to their children asking a question. It is baffling. I also get snickers when I ignore a child interrupting a conversation I am having with another adult and remind them to wait their turn. Also, my wine club has turned into 100% kid talk time. I mean these were interesting women before kids. Common sense parenting? Yes. But who said people have common sense.

Janan said...

I'm not french and I've never beeen to France, yet some how I stole their parenting secrets! ooh-la-la. In fact I parent very much the same way my AMERICAN parents parented me!
I have 4 kids, now 14, 12, 11, and 8. The hubby and I have ALWAYS gone out at least once a week! We put all our kids to bed at 8 and have the evening to ourselves. And on nights they stay up later, we often lock our door! We've always taken our little ones to "adult" restaurants with us and had fantastic evenings. My children know the word NO very well, we were never afriad to use it. And each of them has occupied themselves very well since they were very young.
In the end I'm a common sense parent snd I even like reading books about common sense parenting, but I'll skip this one with it's "AMERICAN" insult.

rebekah said...

Also, I understand everyone wanting to defend the American culture against a perceived insult. But honestly, and this will open me up to pushback, I've struggled with parenting styles in the US. No isn't used effectively. Parents live their lives for their children. Whining and bad behavior isn't controlled. It is a weakness in our culture. However, other cultures put down children, and don't build them up for greatness. Something I think the American culture does much better than any other I've experienced.

Truan said...

I think it's excellent, although as a few people said - not particularly french. I know my mum was usually kind but firm in her instructions to me and I would like to try and be like that with my kids too.

Patricia Villamil said...

i just wanted to add to my comment previous comment that the food schedule mentioned in the article is actually a great thing and something easy to teach, very beneficial to babies and kids and the early you start the better, for this is the foundation for a healthy eating habit. I was told by my pediatrician to start this schedule at 6 months and I did. Breakfast in the morning at 8, lunch at 12 noon, snack (usually fruits) at 4 and dinner at 7 or 8 p.m. depending on your own family situation. This is not hard to accomplish, believe me. If you ever need to give your child an extra snack or something else out of schedule, do it, it's not the end of the world, you can be flexible too, I'm sure French parents are as well when the situation calls for it!

Glenda said...

Those are guidelines that my mother raised me and I raised my kids and we are not french. I think it's just common sense. A happy parent equals a happy child.

La Vie est Belle said...

Here's my deux centimes:
http://davidandstasha.blogspot.com/2012/02/bringing-up-bebe-by-pamela-druckerman.html

Paige @ Little Nostalgia said...

Okay, I'm so glad to read some of these philosophies. Part of why I haven't been very excited about having kids is the idea that a "good mom" drops everything after the baby is born. A "good mom" is expected to forget about herself.

To me, that's ridiculous. A good mom should have interests of her own and not obsess over her child. Obsessing over anything is unhealthy. For a while I thought I was the only person who thought that way, so I'm extra glad to hear about this book.

Krystal said...

I think these guidelines are common sense, but they are often difficult for our culture to follow for 2 reasons:

1. We are workaholics! So we overcompensate for the fact that we are always working by smothering our children when we are not.
2. We think that by doting on our children and giving them all that their little hearts desire, giving in to their wants and demands, make us good parents.

I think other culture seem to understand better that as parents we should lovingly guide and teach our children so they can grow up to be patient, understanding good human beings. Can't wait to read this book!

emily said...

I live by these principles so far, but my oldest is close to Tobys age so not everything is necessary just yet. but with sleeping and indy play? oh oui!

Notes from Holly St. said...

I saw a segment on this on the Today show last week and was intrigued. My daughter is only one but for the most part I completely agree and have unknowingly been practicing some of these styles. I would love to read this book and prepare myself for the next stages of parenting that will come up as my daughter grows. But I completely agree, the guilt issue with adult time is a problem in our household. I really need to work on getting over that...!

Alicia said...

YES to #4!! I work with children and I myself had to learn to just say NO. Since then, my job has been easier and the classroom less chaotic.

Jacquelineand.... said...

These are the guidelines I followed with my daughter and two step-sons. I don't think they belong to any particular nationality but are simply rational, especially when you remember the three things which make a child feel most secure, therefore more confident: 1. Time on their own, it helps them discover who they are and that they can survive without constant outside company and entertainment. 2. Secure boundaries make secure children...and testing those boundaries, with those little failures, lets them know that the rules will be fair and consisten, and that they can live with some small disappointments. 3. The stability of the parent, or the parental relationship, is the foundation which makes everything possible...and that firm foundation (parental relationship) has to have center stage at least some of the time in order to thrive.

Nest Studio said...

It would be an interesting study to compare this book to the crazy book Batlle Cry of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. Talk about creating a stir! I agree with most of the points that you mention and I have a copy reserved on amazon, although I've heard the book is kind of one sided. My favorite tounge in cheek (yet strangely sage) read on parenting is The Three Martini Playdate.

Shoppe Girls said...

So interesting. Thank you for sharing. I have also shared on my blog. With my thoughts. I have to say I think these parenting tips are fairly universal, it just depends on the parent.
You can view on my blog here
http://www.shoppegirls.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/round-blogosphere-french-parenting.html
V xoxo

amy good house said...

I agree with what Becka said. The whole "French Mystique" thing is a bit overrated. And the author wore a beret to promote her book? Really? Hah!

While I think SOME of the advice is good, I see nothing particularly "French" about it. As someone who works outside the home all day if I had children I would definitely spend some evening time with them. (It would be pretty weird to brush them off after being away all day, right?)

Miss Tallulah Porkchop said...

DYING to read it. I am an Australian, but I find I relate to the European way of life more than the American. I find the way French women do things suit my lifestyle, so I am super -interested in this book and expect/hope to be able to incporporate some of the author's wisdom into my life.

Alicia Costello said...

I've been hearing all about this new book and enjoy your take on it thus far. I agree that is seems to be mostly common sense. My little guy is just one and loves to have playtime alone while I putter around. If I played with him all day long, I'd go nuts from never getting anything done and not ever feeling like I was my own person. And I don't like that people would make me feel bad about it. So I just won't. Thanks for sharing!

Lauren said...

How funny, I just read an article on this in the Wall Street Journal online.
It does seem more common sense than Frech, as you said. But it doesn't hurt to examine the inherent parenting of another culture and take lessons that will fit into and improve American culture!

Christine said...

I keep seeing this around the blog world and I find it very interesting. I was a teacher in an elementary school in France and so I find some of these things downright laughable. Kids are kids no matter where they are living. Some are good and some are bad, just like parents.

13bees said...

i love your mom!

Lena said...

To be honest, I am European (not French) and I live in States and yes, there is a difference. European kids are more chill, not all of them, of course, but you can see they behave differently. It's not particularly French thing, I saw Dutch kids behave the same (I am not Dutch either:). There is also one thing that author didn't mention in the article.. Europeans spank their kids and don't let them rule the world, while in US kids usually act very bossy and above the parents. But everything has pros and cons and for example I think American kids are more prepared for the future life business wise while European kids are taught not to think outside the box and follow the rule (in general) That's why many of them don't go out there and use their chances..

Camille said...

(First, please excuse my english, this is a tough work to express my opinion about this book, I am very concentrated right now!)

This whole story is so surprising! Here in France, the author has been invited on several TV shows. And each time,she felt uncomfortable, because the journalists kept telling her that those "rules" are so natural that we do not really understand why she wrote a book about it!

In France, I assure you we can see a LOT of bad mannered children, yelling at restaurants and shops, eating candies at 10am (well, this is alright^^)and I must admit I am often complaining about those kind of parents who do nothing to stop their children from being so noisy and violent (yes...)

This is surprising to see that some of you would like to learn and apply as rules our natural behaviour.
For example, for us it is surprising to see how American parents are so concerned about keeping their child entertained at all times and letting them getting fat without being able to say no.(I am aware this is certainly stereotypes, but this is the kind of image we get from America through our TV reports!!)

I take the opportunity to thank you Joanna for publishing such interesting articles, which are very helpful to practice my english. (If someone is interested, I would LOVE to maintain correspondence with a native english speaker, to improve my english, and, in exchange, to help her (him!) improve her (his!) french!

Ann said...

I saw this when it was in the WSJ and immediately thought, "these used to be universal practices." I think American culture has changed a lot in the past fifty or so years but this is the way, or so I hear, we used to be. I don't think it is uniquely French but I'm glad to see some parents still exist that don't cater to their children. Let's face it, as we grow up, no one is catering to us still!

Anonymous said...

Very, very interesting! I am the mom of a 4 y/o girl. My husband and I have very similar innate parenting styles, so it makes parenting much easier. We're both laid back parents and we both have the same parenting priorities.

I think the "French" style is more universal than people may assume. Common sense, like you said. I have seriously come to think that the problem is that American moms are inundated (by themselves!) by parenting blogs and web sites and constant comparisons with each other's parenting and any other media they can find to obsess about parenting topics.

Parenting boils down to the realization that your best tools are patience and instinct. Once you acknowledge that your kid is an autonomous human being that you are simply charged with caring for in the best way you can, the "technique" is irrelevant as long as you truly have your kid's best interest at heart. :)

Daniela said...

I didn't read all the comments, so forgive me if I'm only repeating what everyone else is saying. I read the excerpt from the WSJ, as well as the review from The Economist. Although, the tips stroke me as being very basics ones (for instance, saying "bonjour", "thank you"), I bought the book as soon as it was released. It's now on my bedside table.
Now, I do have to agree that here in the US and in Latin America (where I grew up), parents tend to see their kids as the "kings" of the house. Everything revolves around them. This is something you wouldn't see in Europe. My grandparents were French and I studied at the French school. So I received a kind of "french" education. There were things that we could do with our parents and others that we couldn't. When I was young I felt it was unfair, but now that I'm a mother myself I completely understand why my parents wanted to go to the restaurant on their own. So, I'm quite strict myself on that point. I love to be with my kids, but past 8pm, I don't want to hear them.
The reason I bought the book is because I don't agree with the author when she says that French parents are always very calm when educating their kids. From my childhood, I remember French moms as being quite mean (not all of them of course). But my French friends were usually afraid of their parents. Some people like that, I'm not sure this is the way I would like my children to look at me. As this very severe figure, who's only here to police them. It is my duty to educate them, but by giving them as much love as I can.
What I do agree with the author, is that French children have better manners (especially when we are talking about table manners) than here in the U.S. But like Christine said earlier "kids are kids no matter where they are living". The other day I saw a French little girl having a Tantrum in the middle of the Met...
Lastly, I completely agree with your mother. We tend to be very influenced by the local culture and you go with the flow. My first son was born in NY, then we moved to Brazil and we came back to NY with our second child. I'm now a mixture between an American-Brazilian-French mom.

Samantha said...

I am not sure if this is French or not, but these are definitely rules to live by for parents. I am a teacher in a Montessori school, and I feel that even though these things feel like common sense, many parents have the hardest time abiding by them. Especially the part about meaning no when you say it. Ooof, it sure makes my job a lot harder when parents don't follow these simple rules.

jenny said...

I've found all the advice that's been in the press about this book pretty common-sense, and generally things I do. And, to be honest, while I cannot say that my little ones have never, ever had a tantrum, they behave in restaurants and in public in general, go down pretty easily at night and don't snack constantly.

Jenni Austria Germany said...

after reading the email from your mom, i kind of want her to write her own book on this. ;)

JESS said...

All of this is very accurate from what I've experienced. I am half french and spent every summer in France with my family while I was growing up. I remember watching my older cousin parent when I was young and thinking, wow, she's so harsh! This summer when I visited I was spending time with the same cousin and her children and I had this moment when I realized, Valerie was really on to something. All of the little ones can sit at the table for the two hour meals, they eat each course, use their manners and play independently for hours. It's truly incredible the difference sometimes.

Sure, there are so many assumptions that are stretched or false all together, but I feel comfortable saying that most are correct.

Camille- I would love to stay in contact with you! Feel free to add me on Facebook under Jessica Robinette or contact me through my blog, www.jessicasimorte.blogspot.com.
A bientôt!

Magda said...

My mum raised me that way and I wasn't a problematic kid. I wasn't crying at the restaurant, I didn't have problems with finding my own entertainment without asking my mum to play with me, etc.
But I can see 1 difference - she never had to took candies away from me, because I could eat them as much as I wanted and when I wanted to - and because of that... I was never eating them! I still don't like candies. Maybe that sounds crazy but I think that if someone is forbidding his kids to eat candies, it would work more like a forbidden fruit.

Votre Amie said...

I am most definitely a francophile, and I will without a doubt be reading the book, but to be honest, from what I've read thus far, it really does seem like a very universal approach to parenting. I think many people set out with every intention of follow this approach but life, personality, family, pressures of all kinds can ultimately interfere.
I was for the greater part of my childhood raised by nanny's. I remember them being incredibly affectionate, and when need be firm but very polite. I don't have children yet, but the firm yet polite factor resonates with me in a huge way. I really do feel it made and continues to make a difference. It's something I distinctly remember being different between the way my nanny's treated me and the way my Mom did. My mom was very strict. I preferred the nanny's, hahaha!

I do think it's a great thing for kids to learn how to enjoy playing by themselves. I used to love to play by myself - to this day I attribute my funky monkey imagination and creativity to that time playing make-believe solo style .

I LOVE that marshmallow willpower test!! Absolutely adorable!

http://iloveublank.blogspot.com/

Kelli Anderson said...

i looove this and i love your mother's email response as well. i'm so excited to be a mother!

Nina - Living In said...

I always struggle with generalizations like the ones made in the article.

I also found this view interesting to consider: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paige-bradley-frost/french-better-parents_b_1260779.html

It's an interesting topic on whether our parenting is influenced my where we raise our children. I am German but live in New Zealand and although there are subtle differences in parenting here and there it ultimately comes down to your own personality and most importantly the temperament of your children. I have two boys, one very quiet, reserved boy who can play by himself for hours and never has major tantrums and then I have a boy who is quite the opposite. He has a huge fun personality but can't play by himself and needs a lot of interaction and he has major tantrums - I have always parented them in the same way because they are very close in age.

Another point I'd like to make is that the rate of childcare is considerably higher in France than in Germany or New Zealand (I don't know about the USA) 30% of 0-2 year old children and 90% of 3-6 year olds are in full time care - I strongly believe this has an effect on children. Good or bad? We'll see.

Karenina said...

It might not be particularly "French," but hey, you have to use sex (or a sexy culture) to sell just about everything these days. ;-)

Ladies Holiday said...

Wow- 159 comments, this is a hot topic. My book is in the mail to but thanks to your synopsis, I see where I weigh in so far. Feelin' kinda French. Would love a follow up after you read and more discussion!

Renee said...

I believe in balance. I don't care for the comparison of the over-involved, over-indulgent American mother with the French mothers who seem to fall on the other side of the spectrum. As in the US, I'm positive there is not one way the French parent.

Parenting differs from community to community in the US, and from person to person. I grew up in an area where I was usually the odd mother out. I just had differing ways of parenting. My way of parenting changed over the years and with each of my three children. But I know I offered them two things that have made a huge difference: they know I love them unconditionally and they know a life of balance.

I am not comfortable with the generalizations made about either side - the French or the US - or the idea that one does it better than the other. Take the best of both, fit the ideas into your own life, make your own rules (and stick with them as long as they work). Choose when to say "no" quite carefully and stick with that answer always. Be firm, but loving. Be involved, but learn to let go and allow your children to grow into themselves.

LV said...

This just seems like garden variety common sense to me. Great tips nonetheless, but not sure how this is any different than the way parents in the US raise children. I loved your mom's perspective.

http://foodfashionandflow.blogspot.com/

Sarah said...

I haven't read the book, but by the sounds of it, this woman just learned some pretty universal lessons while in France. It sounds like being out of her own comfort zone (in a different country) opened up her eyes to learn, observe and question some of the things she was doing. I can't see that this is particularly "French" per se. I agree with most of the points, to a degree. Yes, children need structure and limits, yes they need to learn respect, patience and independence. Personally, I do not agree with letting a young baby cry. It is not healthy and is not developmentally appropriate. I don't care what anyone says, a baby who has not yet learned object permanence is simply not able to be manipulative by crying. Who would they be trying to manipulate, when they do not know that anything exists outside of themselves? But, certainly toddlers and older children need to learn patience and how to appropriately ask for things. I think the adult time issue does have a cultural connection to it. Many cultures do not expect that child and adult time be as separate as we seem to believe in the U.S. In the U.S. it would be frowned upon, or flat out forbidden, to bring a child along to an adult event. You cannot bring a child out to a bar or to some other adult event, even if that child would happily play on their own at a table. So, it leaves many people without a way to get out and participate in adult activities. If you don't live near family and cannot afford a sitter, it can be very difficult to continue one's adult social life when you cannot bring the kids along....

@onechicklette said...

Whether or not it's French, I love this approach. Part of my trepidation (reluctance really) about having children is how many parents seem to give up adult lives in favor of being nothing BUT parents.

Eva B. said...

Parenting books are relevant to me now that I am pregnant with my first child.. I will most likely check this book out, among other parenting books... What struck me immediately after reading the list you posted is how these parenting tactics benefit the parents on the most part. Yes, children that obey are more pleasant to be around, but that is not the only defining attribute that makes a child enjoyable and also builds their character. To say that other societies dont parent as well is a bit insulting, but it also blurs the line of what good parenting is! A previous poster listed an article on Huffington Post that was really interesting and I enjoyed the points the author made about how our society has different structure as far as our education systems go, and that made sense to me. Parenting is SUCH a personal issue, confined to the immediate family and their values. I think defining one way or another as "good" or "bad" is discrediting the one thing that I love the most about our culture- our differences make us special! Very thought provoking post Joanna! Love it...

Andrea said...

My American boyfriend sent this article to me via WSJ earlier last week and we both agreed on the points mentioned in the article. Our friend argued it was common sense but sometimes, common sense is easily forgotten.

Instant gratification is a common way of raising kids both in the States and in Asia. In Singapore where I come from, parents 'encourage' kids to study hard and get good grades with a tangible reward. So you grow up expecting something in return.

I wryly lamented to my bf that we should adopt this method otherwise, the American and 'kiasu' (afraid to lose) mentality of Singaporeans will be suicidal for our kids. A great difference I feel in the 'French way' of bringing up kids is teaching them to be self-sufficient, to be independent - go do something on your own until someone can tend to you - don't expect immediate attention. The same way you don't immediately pick up a baby wailing as the baby gets tuned to thinking, the moment I cry, I'll get attention.

Glad you're sharing this!

Cheers!

Erin S. said...

Have you seen this French commercial advocating birth control? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpeKSNzaMRI

It portrays a French kid misbehaving pretty badly in a grocery store -- not at all like the perfectly behaved French children described in the article. This was a commercial aired in France, so it must have resonated with the French! All of which to say, there are badly behaved and well behaved kids in every culture.

Sarah said...

never knew these were french philosophies. but i do see many moms (even in my family) that make no time for themselves and entertain their children NON stop. i love playing with my daughter but i also know she needs to learn to be independent. i also think these kids of smothering mothers grow up to resent constant attention.
great post--might read the book!

Jean Molesworth Kee said...

Moving to Sydney AU with 3 children, I noticed the same things. Children were cherished and loved but NOT the center of the universe. A "child-centered" home is never a happy one....

Shawnee said...

Joanna, I love this! Number 4 especially, so classy. I dislike when parents yell at their children in public, causing negative attention.
I am not a mom yet - but all of this is so, so interesting to me. In my sociology class we have discussed topics like this.. also like the 'expectations' of parents especially in America.
I love hearing about others' views to keep in mind for my future:)

My name is Caroline said...

I totally agree with what you said! Julip is still young (she just turned two) but all of these "rules" seem to come pretty naturally in parenting. BUT i've observed that this is not common for everyone. It's fascinating! In a way, it's the difference between you raising your kid or them raising you... ya know?

Stefani Sarah said...

But I've read (and agree with) all your points above in The Baby Book series by The Sears. Aren't they American family? P.S. I live in Japan and am not American.

Nikskie said...

i'm not married or have any children yet. but i'm the eldest of 5, and my siblings are way much yonger than me. i feel in some ways, they are my babies. in indonesian culture, and javaness to be more spesific, women are meant to devoted their lives to their family. their lives circles around husband, kids, household and such things. and they'll feel guilty about let their kids play alone, or leave the kids at home while they go to sip a cup of coffee with friends. women who still tied to this cultural value seldom have time for themselves. but the more modern we get here, the perspective in indonesian modern women also change. the life of moms still evolves around their husband, kids and household, but some of them also be in a career and have other activities with frieds.

my mom is the kind that will do anything for her kids. when me and my siblings were little, she gave all her life to us. raising 5 kids without a helper/housekeeper is not an easy job. it's a full time occupation. but she's done it! she's the best mother in the world for me. she can be strict, but she has something that keeps her kids close to her and respect her. now that we've grown up and getting older, my mom has more time for herself and do activities with her friends

Girlie Blogger said...

Great advice. I definitely need them. My toddler is into her terrible two's. Telling her "no" seems impossible.
Girlie Blog Seattle - Beauty Tips, Makeup How To, Seattle Lifestyle

Kat at Muddy's Bake Shop said...

I think these used to be pretty universal, but (according to my mother) Dr. Spock ruined America's parenting behaviors by putting the child at the center of the parents' lives. My parents were both very involved with us growing up, but we definitely were disciplined and "character building" was a big part of growing up!

Artemisia said...

I hear you all on the "it's just common sense" thing, but yikes, in my world there's a notable lack of common sense in UMC American parenting, at least in the urban northeast.

I know children who can't go to sleep unless a parent is in the same bed. Children who are never asked to speak quietly when shouting might disturb other people. Parents who are honestly afraid to say "no" - or who say it constantly but don't mean it or enforce it. Parents who are afraid they will damage their child if they ask her to wait or be quiet or consider the time and place before she belts out a song in a quiet restaurant.

All of these are people I know. The children aren't insufferable brats, the parents aren't useless gits. And of course this isn't every family. But too many are stuck in a weird parenting culture that provides fertile ground for a book like this.

There were two important things I felt I needed to teach my kids, who are now teenagers. 1) You and your thoughts and feelings and comfort are very important and 2) look around - see the other people in your family, classroom, restaurant? So is theirs. (FWIW, it worked pretty well for us)

Now, the French people I've spent time with aren't parents, so what do I know? But as described, it seems the main difference is that French parents are intent on teaching their kids point #2, while American parents (insert standard UMC Northeast disclaimer language here) are obsessed with point #1 and completely oblivious to point #2.

And frankly, that's something I'd love parents to start thinking about - teaching kids to consider others, to manage themselves when adults are discussing something, to exercise self-control as well as self-espression, to look around and assess whether singing at the top of ones lungs is a good idea at that time and place.

UrbanChiqueNess said...

Very interesting content...will have to read the book but honestly, it sounds like smart parenting. Love your children, command respect but nurture your adult relationships. Not so "french" but just wise! My lifestyle blog is just that tips and trends on how to live a more creative life...
xo
E
http://www.urbanchiqueness.com

Anonymous said...

This is exactly how I was raised, and I grew up in Poland.
If I had children, I would be raising them the same way my parents raised me. I don't care if this is called "French style". To me this is commone sense and logic.
It's dissapointing that it seems like a completely new concept in America.

Anonymous said...

I love this! Be firm, but kind. Your blog is amazing. I love it so much.

Buddha.Rebel said...

I have raised my kids this way, and they are very well behaved. I think, like many of the others, that its not particularly a French thing...seeing as how I am mexican. But more cultural I am thinking. Some people raise their kids with good manners, some forget to. The only difference for me, and I dont believe its because they are french, is the snacking thing. I tend to let my kids graze through the day.

Arielle said...

I will agree that this is just common sense and not so 'French.' however it is French in the sense that they're the ones doing it the most it seems! I don't have kids of my own, but it seems the way that I would like to raise my children in the future! I'll have to check this book out :)

Madison said...

I was raised to respect my parents as people--not "adults". this translated into respecting other adults AND other children. Adults--my parents included-- were not presented to me as all-knowing or all powerful, but rather as people just like me that made mistakes. If I did something wrong (sneaking snacks, mouthing off, etc.) we discussed WHY what I did was wrong, which helped prevent future misbehavior because I could think through my decisions.

Anonymous said...

I also agree that none of it is "french". I've met children from Mexico that can sit through a whole dinner and order fuzzili pasta at an upscale restaurant by themselves and American toddlers that walk around running errands with their mothers without complaining. I guess giving it the "french" connotation is a good way to market a book in the U.S...

Regardless, it is a good way to let people know about other ways of healthy parenting!

Hilary Nicole said...

I completely agree with the author's words.. I was staying in a french home with my French parents and their children respected them very much and the times they ate are correct.. we did not have snack but the children always did. We sat for at least two hours for dinner and their lunch breaks are two hours long starting at noon. Wonderful country.

XX Hilary

Anonymous said...

Yeah, not so sure what's so 'French' about it, I am doing stuffs she's doing and I'm an Asian immigrant LOL (and not writing a book about it). Although she does give some good advise :)

I do have the issue with my American husband who can't stick to 'no,' basically he's kinda contradicting me. Wonder why my son always runs to dad when mom says 'no.' Ha.

kati said...

oh sweet baby jesus, i would love to figure out the secret to three meals and a snack. my kids are ridiculously picky eaters and eat small snacks all day long. i'm sure it's all my fault somehow, but it is soooo annoying...

Maggi said...

I am definitely going to have to buy this book. While I'm not a mom yet, I am always up for getting prepared in advance.

I'm a new follower :) Stop by if you like:

http://finlikeafox.blogspot.com/

jules said...

Sounds like blue collar parenting to me. I was raised that way, in the way back 70s and not only survived but grew up to be independent mentally, intellectually and financially.

My friends who are still blue collar did are raising their kids this way and guess what? Their kids are growing up to be more polite, curious, achieving and interesting than the entitled brats in my current neighborhood.

don't spoil your kids. you're hurting them.

Anonymous said...

I've just discovered your blog and it is quickly becoming a favourite so, thank you!

As for the book, I don't think this is such a French tradition of raising children as it is a European or generational way of doing things. The points that rang true with me are the points on children having to occupy themselves and not interrupt "adult time". My husband and I are trying to raise our two boys this way but sometimes feel guilty when surrounded by "hands on" parents at parks and cafes. Ultimately, I have to remind myself that this is the way our parents raised us (and I assume many of the readers on this blog) and we turned out all right.

So is this revolutionary idea? Probably not, but it's nice to remember to stay grounded nonetheless.

Kay Jay See Bee said...

I'm not sure if you've read this yet, but this article on the Huffington Post is a great comparison on why/how American and French parenting differ. This helped me a lot. I like different parts of both.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paige-bradley-frost/french-better-parents_b_1260779.html

Premier Etage said...

I love how ethnic observation of Parisiennes can make one write a book about French people parenting skills...

Don't worry: we raise awful brats too.

Melanie said...

This all sounds about how things fly around here....although we are definitely snackers :).
I think the real key, though, is raising people you enjoy. When my four kiddos drive me up the wall, it is without fail because I've dropped the ball or been too lax for a bit. When I get back on track, my children quickly become people I really like to be around again. You're raising adults, so do what it takes to raise ones you'll actually want to hang out with.

Julie Benton said...

Only an American expat would deem common sense parenting as French parenting and decide to write a book telling other American parents how to be more French in their parenting style.

The Pink Pagoda said...

I think with a darling illustration on the cover and a French title, the American consumer will buy it all day long. The parenting described in this post is merely going back to the authoritarian style which is not new. It happens to work extremely well if not taken to the extreme. It's what we've used with our daughter who does not have impulsivity and instant gratification problems. She is very independent and can be by herself for long periods. She can hear the word no and accept it maturely. It would be lovely if more American parents embraced this philosophy. However, I wish they didn't have to think it's French to become intrigued!

Aditha said...

I'm french and I didn't see these rules as french rules. I don't know if it's a french way to raise a child but I think it depends on each family, each "history". My family paid attention to all these points but in a very strict way : a lot of french mothers born in the forties, as my mother, went to very inflexible boarding school or convent school, where it was very strict. Time helps to make rules supple but we keep perhaps the same base : to learn how to wait (to talk, to eat...) for example.

And yes, one thing I like very much is my "adult time". To have diner with my husband and to talk about job, life, love... ! :-)

barefoot duchess said...

Totally agree but their success also depends on the context

Sascha - Coffee and Heels said...

I'm not a parent, but these things sound very sensible to me.

anne said...

I heard the author talking about her book on English radio and a French journalist was invited along to comment. Her polite denials about this being a universal French approach were railroaded by the writer who insisted that she had seen it in Paris so it was definitely French. Hmm. I am English and older but this was how I raised mine. At the time I felt rather outside the prevailing belief of devoting all my interest to my children but believed I was right. I still do. Too much involvement in your childrens' lives, too much positive endorsement of every breath and too much open adoration never made a pleasant human. Baby or adult. I get it: you love them. But let them be.

Anonymous said...

I totally parent like this. Happy parents = Happy child.

India

Sarah said...

I'm definitely buying this book! Weeks away from having our first child my hubby and I discuss our parenting style a lot.

I don't think this is an exclusively French approach, but we've witnessed many friends succumb to a parenting style where the kids rule the roost and Mum & Dad are relagated to restaurants, tv etc chosen by the children and a distinct lack of adult time.

Our child will be an incredible extension of our relationship & we are here to guide & teach him - not to serve him!

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