If you haven't yet read the book, Bringing Up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman, go find a copy and get ready to be jealous of the four course meals babies get to enjoy at the "Creches," or French daycares. Also be ready to laugh heartily at the chapter on the preschool specific expletive, "Caca Boudin!"
Bringing Up Bebe is an account of French parenting told through the eyes of an American journalist raising her three children in Paris, France. She compares the parenting styles of her fellow Anglophone parents to her French counterparts. Not all of it is good, but much of it is brilliant.
For instance, the author describes that for all the emphasis on fresh, local, delicious food, not many French parents try to breastfeed. However, there is no sense of "kid food" in France. Kids eat the same thing as their parents and would turn their noses down at Kraft Mac N Cheese and McDonald's chicken nuggets.
Another point of fascination for me was the independence that French parents instill in their children VERY early on. Most babies in France sleep through the night by three months. The author details that French parents give more "pause" to a whimpering baby to encourage it to self-soothe back to sleep instead of responding to every noise they make. French parents stick to the perimeter of the playground and relax and let their kids play, imagine, and even work out their own arguments on their own. But the independence goes on, many parents are encouraged to send their preschoolers on week long school trips without them.
French parents also put high value on their romantic relationships above their children. They don't even consider that their relationship with their spouse would change after kids. I love that.
French don't sign their kids up for all the activities, sports, music lessons, etc because they recognize their time as important too. Parents want their kids to understand they are people and have needs just like them. So they have less busy lives, play with their kids less, and cherish their adult time.
Just like the author, I am captivated, but not convinced. Clearly, I'm an American mama in my thinking. I do believe in so much of what they do and am challenged by it, like romance, less snacking and letting my children test some steps of independence so they can grow. I'm challenged to take care of myself and my relationship with Tim. But I like being a little bit more involved and encouraging to my child. I myself loved being a part of a soccer team and grew up to love vegetables even though I ate granola bars between every meal.
So I get it. I'm just not sold.
Regardless, I loved the experience of entering into another culture's parenting habits.
Have you read it? What did you think?