French children better behaved?

French children better behaved?

We review Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, a book about one American mother who discovers the secret behind France's astonishingly well-behaved children.

French children better behaved?

french childrenWe all love secrets, don’t we? The best part about secrets is uncovering them! In Pamela Druckerman's book, Bring Up Bébé, we learn the secret behind France's astonishingly well-behaved children.  A self-confessed non-parenting book, readers of this book insist that though this is not a how-to book it does call for a read.

A different side to parenting

One chance! That is all it takes for you to understand the objective of American author Pamela Druckerman. It is not written to ridicule American parents and their parenting skills. But to highlight the fact that it is time we see parenting with a whole new perspective. In fact, it challenges most parenting communities around the world - If the French kids can why not ours?

The right balance

Though the book emphasizes the contrast between French and American parenting to make the book fascinating, what actually is the most intriguing part in the book is the key to successful parenting - Keeping a balance between discipline and freedom.

Freedom is the space that a child gets while discipline sets the boundaries for this space. So kids know their enjoyment is limited by certain rules that they need to abide.

'The Pause' technique

Another key thing is emotional and mental training. A baby cannot understand words but can understand actions. Master ‘the Pause’ technique - not responding immediately to a baby’s cries, minus the guilt feeling. Druckerman tries using this and her own baby starts sleeping through the night, although to be fair she does wait until her baby is more than a few months old, unlike the French parents who start right from the first month.

How the book came to be

The book conveys clearly the fact that Druckerman has been highly successful in her career as an American journalist for Wall Street. This is mentioned so the readers understand that the author is an intelligent woman and is not someone to be carried away just by anything coming her way.

She moves to Paris where she enters mommyhood and realizes that French babies are much easier than hers or other US moms. Though reluctant at first she then starts to understand parenting expertise from few of her French friends and neighbors. Eventually, she shared all that she has learnt through writing this book.

Take it easy!

Her revelation is not very surprising. It all boils down to a basic attitude that is to 'take it easy'! You don’t have to be an all-consuming parent to create the perfect child. Parents should give children room to let them learn through their own ways which will build up self-learning ability.

Some criticisms

However, the author is too judgmental and self-loathing at times. She notes mortality rates are lower in France, 57 per cent lower than in America. There is also an emphasis on a calm pregnancy and not eating too much.

There are many other factors other than obesity that determine the possible difference in infant mortality rates between one country and another. In other words, French women don't have little bags of emergency Cheerios spilling all over their Louis Vuitton handbags. They also, Druckerman notes, wear skinny jeans instead of sweatpants. These could be unfavorable to some American readers.

Praise for the book

What I liked however, is that the author cites studies that validate her remarks. One such study indicates that 90 per cent of fifteen-year-old eat their main meal with their parents - compared to 67 percent of those in the United States. Parents need not be giving all the time. But they do need to fix time to spend with them every day preferably meal times. Such stats authenticate her message and bring forth the need of the hour where family time is losing value in many American homes.

So for all the wisdom this book has to offer all I would say is it deserves one chance! Secret or no secret, the moment you start the book I’m sure you are going to devour it. Cheerful kids make cheerful parents or should I say the other way around? Cheers!!

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