Bringing up Bébé and the Art of French Parenting

New parents are anxious to make the right start with their little one hoping that their parenting style will not only produce a happy and smart child but also a well behaved one. Among the many parenting styles we see around us, there is one more now; the art of French Parenting as described in the recently published book Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman.


How French parenting is different

The author speaks about what she considers are the pros of the French style of parenting that results in happy and better behaved kids. The idea is to say ‘No’ with authority, in a way that teaches patience and heads off tantrums.

According to Druckerman, French parents are involved enough with their children; taking them to museums, enrolling them in art classes and developing their sporting personas; French parents read to their kids and teach them about nature as well.

However this involvement stops short of obsession. Kids are not allowed to take over their parents’ time completely, observes the author. If French parents apportion evening time only for themselves, there is no guilt about this.

They key is to stimulate the child but not over-stimulate and this she says could be the key difference between American styles of parenting and French styles. Whereas Americans would like their children to learn a new language and become proficient with all sorts of things while they are still toddlers, the French permit kids to be kids and to try and figure out a few things on their own.

The author sardonically also points out that the French government also makes parenting less stressful. Not having to pay for preschool or save for college or worry about health insurance helps; as does the fact that there are cash incentives simply for having kids!

What the readers think about the book

Many readers have found the book helpful, amusing and educative because of Druckerman’s astute observations that she is not a fan of the French or their country but has become a reluctant admirer of their style of parenting.

The points of interest in the book are the fact that the French let their children explore their environment on their own, learn to play by themselves, perhaps even using old toys. The kids tend to eat healthier than do American kids.

It is also pointed out that infant mortality rates are lower in France that in the US. This could perhaps be due to the emphasis on eating healthy and remaining calm during pregnancy.


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