As an Audible Editor I listen for a living! British classics, YA novels, speculative fiction, and anything quirky, fascinating, or heart-wrenching.
I started listening to Bringing Up Bébé the very same day it came out. Having a “bébé” of my own who is rapidly morphing into a destructive whirl of Tasmanian Devil-style energy, I was immediately sucked in by the title of the opening chapter of Pamela Druckerman’s book: “French Children Don’t Throw Food.” Oh really… I’m listening.
I’m not sure that there’s any one big Holy Grail of child-rearing here but this book proved to be charming, funny, and VERY informative, and I’ve found it’s been helpful in guiding my thinking about what kinds of values I want to try to instill in my child. Some of these have been surprising. For instance, Druckerman writes that in American households we force “please” and “thank you” down our kids’ throats - convinced that if they can master these two critical mantras of etiquette then they will be society ready. In France they teach this too, but there are two other, even more critical, words: “hello” and “goodbye”. French children don’t slink into the room or run to the TV when their parents' friends are visiting. They look the adult in the eye and say “hello”. The reverse plays out when the visitor leaves. French parents feel that this confers respect – that doing this forces their children to acknowledge the humanity of another person. Listening to this while driving to work I found myself practically fist-pumping. “Yes! I want my daughter to acknowledge the humanity of other people too!” She goes on to point out that much of the hostility that American tourists experience from the French originates from the fact that we don’t say “bonjour” upon getting in a cab or entering a restaurant. Who knew?
Overall this was a truly enlightening listen, filled with lots of inspiring little tidbits like this. Druckerman is funny and relatable and Abby Craden as the narrator was perfection. I was actually surprised it wasn’t the author reading it because her delivery is so natural and she sounds so connected to the material.
I liked it. This book gives a glimpse into the French way of parenting. It turns out there is a lot to admire and emulate. The author did a good job of high-lighting the things that drive me crazy about what a lot of Americans moms tend to do (I'm guilty!), but in a light way. I don't see this book's premise as a another reason to feel bad as parents, though. I look at it as food for thought. Speaking of food, I've been introducing more variety w/ my kids (based on the French way),...voila! it worked!
The so-called "wisdom" of French parenting in this book is a lot like the good 'ole common sense American parenting that you can find alive and well in the middle of this country, away from New York City and California. Perhaps Ms. Druckerman needs to travel in her own country a bit more - and step outside of her circles that only seem to include rich, privileged, obsessive, neurotic, ineffective helicopter parents. She uses the phrase, "middle-class families" a lot, but most Americans I know can't afford the nannies, camps, vacations, extra classes and cross-Atlantic flights that Ms. Druckerman mentions. For that matter, most of us can't afford to live in Paris. I know plenty of truly middle class parents whose kids eat their vegetables, sleep through the night, play independently at the playground, and use their manners. In fact, I don't recognize the profiles of most of the American parents she talks about. Parents who allow their children to be the boss and rule their lives are just bad parents, and there are bad parents in every country. From the evidence in this book, there just happens to be a high concentration of them in NYC.
The premise of this book is an interesting one. I enjoyed the way that Druckerman gave her stats and kind of let the reader take from it what they wanted to. I read on a review on another site where someone said that she raves about parenting in France and bags on American parenting. I didn't find that to be true. It's a good book, I took away a lot of ideas. Abby Craden is a good narrator. I haven't had a lot of experience listening to non fiction, but I will now.
I listen to audiobooks when I run or do housework, so I prefer something that is a little light and easy to digest in chunks here and there. This book (and recording) fit the bill.
If you are a mother who is a little annoyed by all of the hyper-parenting going on around you, then you will enjoy this book. I found some of Druckerman's insights very interesting, especially the part about the French national eating schedule and how this encourages patience.
The one thing that was annoying to me is when the narrator used a thick French accent when relaying something a French person said. The accent sounded too over-emphasized and fake, like she was over acting. Other than that, a very quick and enjoyable listen.
This book made me laugh. My daughter is 11 months old and I read most of it while juggleing her from place to place. Well written and funny. I gave it to my sisters.
The writer is honest and also adds in a lot of facts about France- I learned a lot along my audio journey.
To moms: trust yourself. You know more than both you and the oober mommy culture think you do.
This is the first book on parenting I've enjoyed reading... Come to think of it, it's the first book on parenting I've actually managed to finish. This book made me feel both hopeful and amused.
I wish I heard the book when my kids were smaller! I would highly recommend it to parents of young children.
Humerous and sometimes serious account of living in Paris and raising children there. I found it interesting to listen to the differences and want to apply some of the advice for myself (no snacking between meals, but for a planned one in the afternoon). Fun book!
Parenting books are almost invariably insufferable as they offer some combination of patronizing, ineloquence, triviality, and sanctimony. This book was a clear exception: well-written, interesting and relevant. However, the narration was enervating: most French words, terms, names, and expressions were pronounced incorrectly, and all French speaking characters were performed with a fake French accent (in English). However, even with these shortcomings, I very much enjoyed listening to this book.
I resented the mispronunciation of most French words, names, and expressions (from bonjour to Paris Match, through Virginie and innumerable others). Does no one check these things for a narrator who clearly does not speak french? Also deeply disliked the fake French accent (in English) in which all French-speaking characters were read.
The chapters on waiting, food, and discipline.
This book was more the author's personal life (her relationship and work) than actual class between her culture's parenting and parenting in France. She presents herself as a type of New York mom that I can't related to despite being from the US -- so the idea that it is US parenting vs French parenting falls flat.
Readers who do accents crack me up! My partner overheard this book and kept making fun of the reader's faux French accent. Made for lasting amusement whenever we discuss parenting...
I would recommend the "French Children Eat Everything" book. It is more focused on eating/feeding differences. And at least for me, I could relate more to the author of that book. [And I read it rather than listening.]