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Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting | [Pamela Druckerman]

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

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. But French children are far better behaved and more in command of themselves than American kids....
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Publisher's Summary

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

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  •  
    Niall bremerton, WA, United States 08-31-12
    Niall bremerton, WA, United States 08-31-12 Member Since 2010
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    "A novel about being a woman in france"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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.


    What could Pamela Druckerman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    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


    Would you be willing to try another one of Abby Craden’s performances?

    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


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Bringing Up Bebe?

    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


    Any additional comments?

    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

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Rochester, NY USA 12-03-12
    Andy Rochester, NY USA 12-03-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Grounding the helicopteres"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie WASHINGTON, DC, United States 04-30-12
    Marie WASHINGTON, DC, United States 04-30-12 Member Since 2010

    Professional librarian type, amateur historian.

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    "Another way to learn about French Culture"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    April Chelsea, AL, United States 02-26-12
    April Chelsea, AL, United States 02-26-12 Member Since 2010

    I'm a twenty-something lit nerd who enjoys Romance, Fantasy and YA Fiction. I like strong female heroes and entertaining readers.

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    "Everyone is a better parent than you are"

    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.

    14 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Max Echirolles, France 04-16-12
    Max Echirolles, France 04-16-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Omit the accents, please!"
    How could the performance have been better?

    By eliminating the Ms. Craden's use of ridiculous British & French accents throughout the book.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Definitely anger! I was hoping to learn the author's view of cultural differences of raising children (I am an American living in France, like her). Instead, the person reading the text, Ms. Craden, felt compelled to demonstrate her incompetent pronunciation of both British and French accents. This made it impossible to concentrate on WHAT was being said, and forced me to suffer through HOW it was being said! When I reached chapter 3, I called it quits and stopped listening -- and promised myself never to buy another audiobook where the reader wants to show off his/her poor acting talents. Tell the readers, especially Ms. Craden, to just read the texts in a normal, native American accent, and stop showing off.


    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JoAnn Boston, MA, United States 07-08-14
    JoAnn Boston, MA, United States 07-08-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Must-read for expectant moms"

    This was one of the best parenting books I've read (and I've read A LOT). Ms. Druckerman clearly and intelligently highlights the alarming overparenting trend I've noticed committed by both my peers and parents of my students (I'm an expectant mom who works in a school) and offers realistic solutions based on her ex-patriot observations of Parisian parents. She by no means degrades her American counterparts and is often self-deprecating in her inability or unwillingness to take the advice of her Parisian friends. After she makes anecdotal observations (generally couched with disclaimers that not all Americans commit the parenting sins she describes, nor do all Parisian mothers make Americans seem like frumpy/frazzled messes with misbehaved children), she consults the research which often supports her points. Need proof? I listened to this book while concurrently reading "Brain Rules for Baby," another excellent parenting book which was written by a PhD- both manuals came to almost identical conclusions on key parenting issues such as sleep, eating, behavior, and setting boundaries. If there was a way to make sure that my future child's parents read these books before deciding to host a playdate, I would do it!

    The narration on this book was fine, although the French pronunciations were a little forced. I prefer a milder accent when quoting non-English speakers, not one that is so strong that I needs to add focused attention to ensure I'm interpreting accurately. For example, the term "education" is pronounced: "edz-ooo-cah-see-o" by quoted Parisians. In sentences like this, I'd prefer to understand the content of the message, rather than be pummeled over the head by the fact that the speaker is French.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paige 07-08-14
    Paige 07-08-14 Member Since 2004
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    "Awesome"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    While having definite opinions on a touchy topic (child rearing), it does it in a non-pushy/non- judgmental way. Really enjoyed the book!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The cooks at the Crevis (sp?). i.e. the cooks at the state daycare.


    What does Abby Craden bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The personalized sense--which is part of her ability to deliver the message in a non-judgmental way.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I certainly laughed!


    Any additional comments?

    Definitely worth it. I am making my husband listen to it as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Loy Teik Inn Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 05-30-14
    Loy Teik Inn Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 05-30-14 Member Since 2013

    teikinn

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    "Thanks!!!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Bringing Up Bebe to be better than the print version?

    didn't read the print version


    What did you like best about this story?

    i enjoyed the author's ability to self reflect on american and british practices with the strangeness of the french way. And then bring about the logic about why the french do it the way they do.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    i like the whole idea of waiting... the idea that a child needs to be educated and not trained - a small adult.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Sometimes being French is Healthy


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adriano São Paulo, Brazil 03-26-14
    Adriano São Paulo, Brazil 03-26-14 Member Since 2012
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    "A excellent book for all parents"
    Would you listen to Bringing Up Bebe again? Why?

    Yes. The text is natural told, fluent, without too many scientific facts. Be aware: It's not a medic or a scientist writing about babies, it's a mother story. Brilliant.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Pamela Druckerman? Why or why not?

    Sure, her style is super amenable, intelligent and fluid.


    What about Abby Craden’s performance did you like?

    She's the best narrator that I've listened so far!French accent, intonation, punctuation, everything perfect. I will search for another titles with her as narrator.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GK CAMBRIDGE, MA, United States 03-23-14
    GK CAMBRIDGE, MA, United States 03-23-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent book, ridiculous narration"
    What did you love best about Bringing Up Bebe?

    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.


    What didn’t you like about Abby Craden’s performance?

    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.


    What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

    The chapters on waiting, food, and discipline.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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