French Parenting

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I finished Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman, one of my first "parenting" books. The basic premise was that French children are well behaved and American children are not. I enjoyed her writing style and the way she could laugh at herself and I also found her research about French parenting fascinating 

Here are some of my notes:

"Periods of playing and laughing should alternate naturally with periods of peace and quite, you don't have to talk, sing, or entertain constantly"-This made me feel a little better about my Pinterest playroom addiction while the boys are playing.

Concerted cultivation, American middle-class mothers see their children as a project, they seek to develop their talents and skills through a series of organized activities through an intensive process of reasoning and language development, and through close supervision of their experiences in school, mothers are not only expected to go to soccer games, but also supposed to attend practices.-This one really hit me, don't over schedule the boys it is so easy to do, but in order for everyone to remain sane, I also need to be involved but not too involved. I must stick to this principle. 

"If your child is your only goal in life, it is not good for the child, what happens to the child if he's the only hope for his mother" The French feel you should never let one part of life-including parenting-overwhelm the rest. Like a balanced meal with a good mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and sweets.-For some reason this logic really spoke to me (of course this blog is completely contradicting all of it, because it is all about the boys:)

Throughout the book Druckerman talks about the French obsession about teaching children to say "bonjour". Saying "hello" acknowledges the other person's humanity. Part of the French obsession with bonjour reveals is that, in France, kids don't get to have this shadowy presence.  The child greets therefore he is. Greeting is essentially recognizing someone as a person, it sets a tone for the whole interaction between adults and children. One great example was having nice teeth in the United States. When you say bonjour it shows that someone has invested in your upbringing.-I really took this one to heart. With children these days not even looking at an adult when they walk in a room let alone saying hello to them, if I can do anything for my boys I want to teach them to be respectful. It has made me force Wip to say hello when he is spoken to even if he is "being shy" or does not want to do it.  

French people invest in a healthy balance with food choices from the beginning. At the daycares (or creches) they have chief nutritionist that plan menus including four course meals for toddlers (salad of shredded red cabbage and fromage blanc followed by a white fish in dill sauce with organic potatoes a cheese course of coulommiers (similar to Brie) and dessert is a baked organic apple. There is no such thing as "kids food". Basically the French approach to feeding kids is that if you keep trying things, you eventually come around to liking most of them.-In the United States we live in a "kids meal" world so I know that the occasional happy meal is unavoidable, but this did make me think of changing the boys menu from hot dog, chicken nuggets, and pizza to white fish, potatoes, and brussel sprouts (gasp!).

Following the rules-French parents use the cadre model which is a firm frame surrounding a lot of freedom.  Letting the child be as free as possible without imposing useless rules. For example, Druckerman's son refuses to use a fork, instead of yelling she tries to imagine she is teaching him to use a fork much like the teaching the letter of the the alphabet helping her to be patient and calm.-As much as you try not to lose your temper, it happens, this was a great way to think about redirecting a frustrating moment into a teachable moment.

Obedience allows a child to grow up. Children should watch a bit of television so they have a shared culture with other kids.-Wip watches a lot of television and movies, but he also reads lots of books, goes to school, plays with his brother, and has a bit of quite time here and there.  This quote from the book made me feel ok for turning on the T.V.