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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.
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.
44 of 46 people found this review helpful
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.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
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.
What did you like best about this story?
The writer is honest and also adds in a lot of facts about France- I learned a lot along my audio journey.
What insight do you think you’ll apply from Bringing Up Bebe?
To moms: trust yourself. You know more than both you and the oober mommy culture think you do.
Any additional comments?
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.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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.]
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
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!
26 of 29 people found this review helpful
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.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
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!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I had heard great things about this book, and have many friends who recommended it. Being a fan of audible and having little time to read with a new baby I picked up the audio version. What a colossal mistake. The narrator's repeated use of the worst fake French accented English is so awful that I honestly can't finish the book. If someone did a Chinese accent the way this woman does a French accent that person would be decried as a racist and banned from ever using language again. Do yourself a favor and don't waste your money on this audiobook. Unless you want to have your brain repeatedly stabbed with knives
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Bringing Up Bebe again? Why?
Yes. Being a young parent myself in a foreign land this book introduces a different perspective to raising disciplined kids.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
Reduce repetition ...
Which scene was your favorite?
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
nope. Due to repetitive concepts its best to listen in parts
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I am a mother of a toddler, and as such have read a few books and articles about how I should be doing my job. I first read an article about Druckerman which led me to download the whole book. It's written by an American talking about French parenting, and as an English mother, I found it really interesting to be able to read it from a third perspective and have no personal issues with either style of parenting. I can imagine that some people may be defensive of either culture's ways, but I was pleased to simply listen to the evidence and take what I think is useful and relevant from it.
Regarding evidence, Druckerman has done a lot of research, I was concerned this would just be an anecdotal opinion piece, and was pleased to find that there was actually a lot of scientific and historical research quoted to back up the observations she was making.
Overall I thought this was a really interesting book, with some definite - if not sometimes obvious and common sense - methods which could be put into practise. But as I've found so far in parenthood - indeed in life, sometimes you do need the obvious to be stated in order to simply recognise and consciously decide to act on it. However I do agree with the previous reviewer, the narrator's French accent is terrible sometimes, and I accept the fact that not everyone can do accents, but perhaps they should have found a fluent French speaker to read the book, as there are quite a lot of French phrases used throughout and it did rather undermine what was being said.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Its an interesting book that has definitely given me a lot to think about. However I felt it was let down by the INCREDIBLY irritating, horrific french accent that the narrator puts on when she wants to quote a french person. I've had to take a break from listening to it simply because of that.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
I enjoy the topic and the writing. But the choice to use the fake French and British accents was a bad decision on the part of the producers. Now, the voice of the recording is very grating, and I also can't help hearing the narrator's creaky vocal fry. Yikes. The voice is the most important thing for an audio book. I think I'll be returning this one.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Quite interesting and some food for thought. I think I'd have liked the book more with this one as it's the kind of book you would want to dip into and skim areas, also the narrator speaks so quickly I missed a lot of what she said which I found very frustrating. I nearly gave up on this a few times but quite enjoyed coming back to bits of it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
really enjoyed the book, as the mum of an 11month old we also named bean, it was interesting to hear the differences in behaviour from both french parents and kids.
This book is a very helpful study of french parenting that helped me to relax as a mother and realise that I should listen to my intuition more and filter all the advices from other sources. Very useful story told in a witty way with a pinch of humour. I highly recommend it.
I am a very attached and hippy parent as much as I appreciate the style of parenting described in this book their is not all that much that I will be using on my kids. I did however learn a lot and their are definitely a couple things I will be using. the readers faked French accent was great very comical lol
synthesis: newyorkers are hysterical women with too much money to spend on trendy books and pediatricians, French mums are cool with a no-nonsense approach to education ( probably like the rest of normal middle class American grans imo!)
the fake accent is really irritating and it was a struggle to listen. the book is too long and verbose for little content, few interesting points that you can pick up reading online blogs instead of wasting listening time.
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Good for long car journeys for a passive, unchallenging listen. Wouldn't have continued with a book though.
If you could sum up Bringing Up Bebe in three words, what would they be?
French style education
What did you like best about this story?
Wonderful book, a great combination of information and autobiography. Actually has incredibly interesting and useful information about how French parents raise their children. Well researched book, with enough background information about parenting philosophies and helpful, practical advice that you can apply yourself. Also an entertaining story about Americans making a life in Paris and learning the French culture.
What three words best describe Abby Craden’s performance?
The narrating itself is fine, but why she decided to do EVERY bit that was a quote from someone French in a thick French accent is beyond me. It actually makes it more difficult to make out what she is saying, and I don't appreciate the notion that all French people speak with that same cliché accent. This doesn't only happen whe she quotes a dialogue between the author and a French person (of which there is a lot in the book) but also when French literature is quoted (which also happens a lot in the book). For me this was the big let-down of this book.
Was quite entertaining and very byte sized for us to listen to in the car. Great book and not bad audio!
I enjoyed the story, i am not sure how much i can actually follow french strategies even though they sound reasonable. The book doesn't give you exact guidelines and strategies on how to apply french parenting tools but as you move from chapter to chapter you get the general idea since the writer is not an expert but only transferring to you her personal experience, well the book is not boring as most parenting books to me, i consider this a bounce!