Flap Copy: 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.
Review: I wonder what I would have thought of this book if I’d read it (or had kids) when it was first published in 2012. I think some of Druckerman’s revelations have become so talked about in parenting circles that they just didn’t seem as surprising to me as they would have had I not had almost three years to hear the secrets in the book.
That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the book – I did, immensely. Just that some of the things, like letting children learn to play on their own, weren’t as revolutionary to me as they might have been (and maybe they weren’t at the time the book came out, I don’t know).
At any rate, Druckerman’s take on French parenting certainly leaves a lot to be desired from American parenting. French kids are better behaved, better eaters, better sleepers, have more autonomy and are respectful towards adults. Their parents are more relaxed and have active, fulfilling lives outside of their families and make time for romance. What’s not to like?
Well, probably not all French parenting is the way Druckerman experienced it, but it does sound good. I really liked the interviews with both French and American parents, and her own experiments with learning how to incorporate a little French parenting into her own style. While I still believe the American way is better in some respects, this is one parenting book that was full of actual useful parenting information that I will try to make use of.
Source: Public library