The secret behind France's astonishingly well-behaved children is here.
When American journalist Pamela Druckerman has a baby in Paris, she doesn't aspire to become a "French parent". French parenting isn't a known thing, like French fashion or French cheese. Even French parents themselves insist they aren't doing anything special.
Yet the French children Druckerman knows sleep through the night at two or three months old while those of her American friends take a year or more. French kids eat well-rounded meals that are more likely to include braised leeks than chicken nuggets. And while her American friends spend their visits resolving spats between their kids, her French friends sip coffee while the kids play.
Motherhood itself is a whole different experience in France. There's no role model, as there is in America, for the harried new mom with no life of her own. French mothers assume that even good parents aren't at the constant service of their children and that there's no need to feel guilty about this. They have an easy, calm authority with their kids that Druckerman can only envy.
Of course, French parenting wouldn't be worth talking about if it produced robotic, joyless children. In fact, French kids are just as boisterous, curious, and creative as Americans. They're just far better behaved and more in command of themselves. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are - by design - toddling around and discovering the world at their own pace.
With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, sets out to learn the secrets to raising a society of good little sleepers, gourmet eaters, and reasonably relaxed parents. She discovers that French parents are extremely strict about some things and strikingly permissive about others. And she realizes that to be a different kind of parent, you don't just need a different parenting philosophy. You need a very different view of what a child actually is.
While finding her own firm non, Druckerman discovers that children - including her own - are capable of feats she'd never imagined.
©2012 Pamela Druckerman (P)2012 Random House
I wish I heard the book when my kids were smaller! I would highly recommend it to parents of young children.
Counter intuitive & interesting
It is all memorable, I keep discussing it with my wife!
Well done, loved the accents :-)
With everyone over the age of 40 telling me that you entire world will change with kids I find this book comforting. Though a child may change things, it does not have to mean the end of your world, but rather an addition to it. This book gives me hope for a well behaved sage kid.
The parenting advice is common sense and not necessarily French. This brings up the question of just what is the deal with the U.S. helicopter parents (as opposed to all U.S. parents), but that is not really explored. 4 stars overall because there is a somewhat funny story with cute kids and the advice could definitely help families who are somehow not getting it otherwise.
Considering that the book is presumably for Francophiles, the narrator's French pronunciation is pretty bad (e.g. "Nouvelle vague" said "vayg" instead of "vog") unless the idea is to sound like the author who spoke bad French, in which case the performance is excellent. But the author's personality is irritating enough with her neurotic cluelessness; one does not need to add in special effects to amplify that.
Say something about yourself!
Having raised my son part time in France and part time in Los Angeles, I agree with almost everything in the book. He was never in a creche but he was in school on both continents every year, took part in la classe verte, went to camp in Switzerland and grew up totally bi-lingual and bi-cultural. After college in the US and Grad School in France he entered the field of International Aid and Development and has lived all over the world. Now that he has his own child, it remains to be seen what, if any, culture he will choose to raise his own child.
My general attitude of "hell is other peoples children" only seemed to apply in the US as I generally found French children totally engaging.
Maybe "child rearing" should be added to "food" on the list of French stuff we should embrace and emulate.
Professional librarian type, amateur historian.
On the surface this is a book comparing American vs French pregnancy and child rearing. In another way it is a book exploring aspects of French culture through children. The biggest thing I walked away with was the importance of the "Bon Jour" in French culture and a willingness to try making yogurt cake (so easy French children make it). There were aspects of the book that I found annoying. The author expresses self doubt and keeps going on about a need to 'mirror'. To me it sounds like a whiny American. Ignoring that there are several gems and insights in the book about the French, particularly French women, Anglophone women, and attitudes towards children and food.
I'm a twenty-something lit nerd who enjoys Romance, Fantasy and YA Fiction. I like strong female heroes and entertaining readers.
Pamela Druckerman lived in France. She saw French parents doing a better job than she was and wrote a book about it.
According to Druckerman, French babies are treated like little adults and that is what makes the French wiser and better parents.
I have no children. I did full time nanny work for about two years and lived with and cared for children, but I feel like it's important to point out that I myself am not a parent.
This is an attractive book because it portrays a sort of secret code to getting your child to sleep through the night, eat their food and not to be hellions to other people.
Yet, really, its the culture and the social programs in place that seem to make the biggest difference. Americans are never going to take up the ideas of French parenting because culturally we are so different. In short? It seems to me like the whole book is a kind of utopian fairytale. Great for France, but not so applicable to America.
People who like novels about women - going to work, meeting people, experiencing culture shock in another country, dieting and so forth might like this book...oh, I'm sorry -- was this supposed to be a book about children? Yes, there is a small bit of informal information about kids- it is not researched, it is always just things she sees and hears from her friends. But there is so very little of that kind of information it seems almost knitpicky to scrutinize its quality. This is a book about this woman living in France and her personal feelings about random stuff- mostly involving getting used to living in France with her daughter Bean- that is not a typo- I listened to her say that name hundreds of times- slow-mo and fast forwards and every single time she says Bean- so either the narrator has it wrong or the cover is a typo
There is also a strong emphasis on teaching the language and culture of France. These lessons fall equally into two convenient categories: Obvious and Irrelevant
I can't believe I let myself listen to seven full hours before I decided that she had nothing to say on the actual subject of her book.
I like books about raising kids- maybe one day she can write one of those and keep her personal life stories out of it- and she should source her material like a grown up professional who writes based on research
For the most part she was acceptable except the long spans in which she spoke with a thick French accent even if quoting a written article- I think she was just looking for an excuse to sound bad- It was hard enough to get through this book without having to rewind bits to figure out what she's saying
I would cut her personal stories but then the book would be ten pages long. Again this is a lot more about her personal stories than it is about education and very little has anything to do with children
So here is her advice:
-Let babies cry for five or ten minutes before tending to them- so they might comfort themselves.
-When children over four demand attention, politely tell them to wait a moment
-low carb diets work and can make you as pretty as the women in Paris
-The day cares in France are awesome
- France is a great place
The rest is all filler
Valuable takeaways from this book, but was distracted by how the narrator pronounced French words. Maybe this it was intentional to reinforce the American-speaking-French idea, but her accent was noticeably inauthentic.
Narrator was amazing with her different accents. Story was engaging and the author repeats the important take aways. Helpful insight into respectful parenting.
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