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 only listened to the audio edition - I thought the reader was great.
I have made some significant paradigm shifts in my views on parenting following this book.
I highly recommend this book especially to working mothers. Much of the guilt of working and raising my son was relieved by this book. I highly recommend this book and only wished that I had read it sooner. My son is 2 1/2.
Avoid the over dramatized french accents
Pam Druckerman clearly states at one point they had four nannies. Then wonders why her kids are obnoxious in public. Rather then coming to the clear conclusion they are desperate for her time and attention, she decides it can't be that since "ALL" frenchwomen go back to work and dump their kids in public daycares for 50 hours a week and they are not brats. Women in our country and France have only been going to full time work for just about 2 generations. The American brat problem did not occur during the 50's when American women actually raised their own kids. The difference between France and here is likely to do with them not trying to make up for neglecting their kids by giving them whatever they want in the 2 hours a day they are home to "pretend to raise" them. Working women parent from a place of guilt here. Guilt only occurs when you know you're doing something wrong. Maybe the fact that the last 32,000 years human type women have been nuturing their own children and it feels wrong not too is because it is wrong not to.
Yes, it's informational and sometimes it's nice to get a little refresher on different parenting techniques. I'm constantly referring to my baby sleep aid book and I imagine I will refer to a few chapters in this book as well.
All the Frenchies!
Refreshing, thought provoking, entertaining
My husband and I are expecting our first baby in about a month and I am so glad I listened to this book before he is born. My husband also loved the book and is the chef of the house so is excited to make a little gourmet out of our future offspring. In comparing french parenting styles to the over controlled, over worried, under 'educated' or disciplined American parenting was eye opening. It really made me relax a bit about our future and how we would parent. Some ideas I dont agree with and many I would love to incorporate into our future life. The story is told as that a story more than a 'how to' guide and that is what we love about it. Many points of view are discussed and lots of research is done but all in keeping to the story line and first hand accounts of an American living and raising children in Paris. I highly recommend it to anyone who has children or will in the future. So interesting and entertaining!
The humor injected into the topic really helps take it all in. There are some truly valid points in this book that like a pill are hard to swallow, however the way she shares the information makes it easier and we only benefit!
Did not read the print version, but other than not having printed copies of the two recipes to follow, it was fine listening to it instead,
I was really struck by the French woman who's 3 yr. old was making yogurt cake. I clearly remember making pudding as a kid in 1st or 2nd grade (7-8 yrs old)...it was the first thing I ever made on my own. It hadn't occurred to me to encourage my 3 yr old to cook other than by observing. I was so inspired by the idea that I pulled out a batch of instant chocolate cake mix and made a cake with my 3 year old daughter. She loved the experience, and it was fun for us both! The only downside is that now she wants to help at every meal! Had I not listened to this book, I probably would have waited until my daughter was 7-8 as well.
I really enjoyed having the perspective of raising children as viewed through the eyes of another culture. I would love to have my daughter be "sage" (I'm guessing on the spelling here), and I would love calm dinners rather than the norm of telling her to get out from under the table! I am now working on the "pause" and on being firm. I appreciated the author's voice. For example, she readily admitted to her own weaknesses in childrearing and with her relationship. I loved that she had to repeat that she was the decider with the kids! It made her feel human rather than as someone just giving out expert advice.
I really enjoyed how open and honest Pamela was about her experiences in France. While there were some things about French culture versus American culture that I wasn't surprised about (i.e. food), other aspects were new to me, and it was really interesting to hear how the French raise their kids so differently.
The one thing that I want to take with me after listening to this book is how to get your newborn to "do his/her nights." But there are so many little tidbits that I take away from this book it is hard to choose just one!
Finally a book that doesn't tell you how to parent but merely states observations on what seems to work. Every child is different or it's just a phase or he/she can't understand or he/she doesn't like this or that are notions that are drastically put to the challenge through Druckerman's observations.
Druckerman tells a story rather than what to do and that is what I found most compelling. It makes me want to try new and better ways of parenting because I don't think I know best at all times. I have to admit that I own several what to expect books but I never found what I was looking for in them.
My son is 2 years old and I'm expecting our second. I wish this book was available before I gave birth to my son but I will certainly make sure to start the French parenting philosophy when my second one arrives. My 2 year old son is benefiting from it now and we bake every Friday teaching him patience and it is surprising how little of a mess he is making. I think I underestimated him in many ways. Education is key and I'm actually surprised by how little guiding I have to give to make him understand now when I explain rather than say no or just don't do that.
The section bringing up guilt and the way the French look at a child's life becoming part of yours, rather than you now becoming part of theirs is fantastic. It's a philosophy I've always wanted for the sanity of not becoming something I call a martyr mom. I don't think the child benefits from such a role model that does whatever the child wants at the moment they want it and in these acts looses track of what she needs to be fulfilled.
I struggled with guilt all through my son's first year, mainly because of going back to work but he was at a great daycare with my husband upstairs (an in company daycare). Looking back, I spent so much time fretting not staying home when I was just waisting energy since I loved my job and was quite content with the situation.
With societal pressures, being Swedish and the norm there that you stay home for AT LEAST 1 year (mainly because you receive full salary) has been part of this guilt. My own mother cried when I said I was going back to work when my son was 4.5 months. The United States with so many cultures and endless possibilites can be as much of a heaven as it can be a hell when it comes to these pressures of guilt. I guess not listening to what everyone else judges on what makes a good parent makes for a pretty good start in addition to applying the French way of parenting.
Thank you Pamela Druckerman for writing this inspirational book and for sharing your family story in the process.
I felt this book was awesome! I loved the narrator and the author's inside thoughts she gave to parenting the french way. Almost mirrored my style of parenting, perhaps that's why I loved this book.
Mom, Science Teacher, Kid at Heart. My 52 mile drive to work gives me time to finally stretch my brain. Audible has been a wonderful treat! Thanks Bob!
Really, my friends, we are being SO duped by our kids at the dinner table. American kids can eat mushrooms and even have a taste for feta! At our table, we now compare the taste of the new food to a secure food. We talk about texture and flavor, and try everything once. Believe it or not this little bit of French coaching has helped. -Thanks for opening my eyes Pamela.
This book was a wonderful story about parenting (the author has a daughter and twin boys) and an interesting look at French culture and their early-education systems. The narrator was so talented at switching between French and English, that I was happy to have listened to this book on audio.
I knew I had to write a review when I realized that this is the parenting book that has most influenced me as a mother this year. Enjoy!
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