Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
by Pamela Druckerman.
I’d seen mention of this book around the blogosphere for awhile, but had never picked it up. Between my penchant for fiction and not having or really being around many kiddos, it didn’t seem super relevant. But now, with impending aunt-hood, and more importantly potential motherhood in the semi-near future, it felt like a good time to finally read it.
This was a fascinating read. The author moved to Paris from New York and when she became pregnant, started taking note of parenting practices and resources around her in France. She couldn’t help but be struck by the vivid contrast between how American children and mothers behave, and how French children and mothers behave. So she set about learning the ‘secrets’ of French parenting, and trying those methods with her own children. Even the ideas she was skeptical about. And lo and behold, most of them work like a charm.
She covers everything from the French outlook on pregnancy and motherhood, to getting infants to sleep, to child care, to teaching kids manners and behavior, to getting kids to eat, etc. For each subject, she combines her own observations with interviews of French women and families, experts, and references to various studies, and then the results of how it went when tried with her own children, including any misgivings or hiccups. It is an entertaining and compelling read that is still full of useful information. I not only thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but it’s given me many new ideas to consider regarding parenting.
Some Americans might say that the tips in the book are common sense and practiced here, too. And I’m sure there are cases where that is true. But by and large, American children are unruly little tyrants, and American moms tired, harried messes. So clearly something is getting missed.
I, for one, would much prefer to have a kid who slept through the night by 3 months old, behaved politely in public, and didn’t kick up a fuss at meal time. And to maintain my status as a woman with my own interests (and time to pursue them!), not just a mother. When motherhood rolls around for me, I plan on referring back to this book and the French parenting mindset often.