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Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (now with Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting)
Bringing up BeBe
Publisher: The Penguin Press, New York, 2012
Author: Pamela Druckerman
-Thank you for joining me for another edition of DocSmo.com, a blog dedicated to bringing information, insight, and thought provoking ideas to parents with children of all ages.
-I have decided to expand the scope of my blog by adding a new feature that I think parents will find interesting…book reviews.
-I read a lot of things regarding pediatrics but not enough of the popular parenting books that seem to be constantly published.
-So I thought that I needed to read more of these books and while I’m at it, why not write reviews at the same time.
-Here is my first attempt at a book review for public consumption. I hope you like it and who knows, it might inspire you to just go out and read the book-Just like many of you, I recently heard about a book that a Wall Street Journal journalist, living in France, wrote about her French parenting experiences and I thought I would give it a read.
-I am glad I did. Not only is she a good writer, but getting an inside glimpse at childrearing practices in another culture is fascinating.
-We all understand that you cannot assume a monolithic or uniform approach to parenting in either the US or France, but some general observations are probably valuable.
-This is exactly what our author does in her book titled “Bring up BeBe.
-Here is a quick summary of the four main themes I saw in the book in 10 megabytes or less:
First Theme: French babies generally sleep through the night, truly sleep through the night by 3-4 months of age, and this is because French parents teach them independence from a very young age. French mothers refer to babies “doing their nights.” Mrs Druckerman noticed that American and British babies have a lot more trouble mastering this skill–hence the myriad of baby books and blog posts on the subject. My own current #1 downloaded post is “Straight Talk about Sleep for infants!” The author contends that French babies “Do their nights” because French parents allow their babies to learn to put themselves to sleep with what they call “la pause.” This simply means that parents pause before they run to their crying babies to give them a chance to settle down on their own, or to connect with their sleep cycles ,so to speak. Listeners to this blog will recognize this as what I call the 10-10-10.
Theme number 2: French children are more patient than American children because French parents teach them to wait. Starting from their feeding and sleep schedules as infants, French children are trained to wait. When a child interrupts a parent he or she is asked to wait. Children are taught to control their hunger till meal time, and they must wait until each course of a meal is served; in- between meal snacks are just not done. When cooking with mom, French children learn to patiently await the outcome–no eating batter or frosting. Patience is a mindset that is taught to young French children.
Theme 3: The people and children of France have a healthier relationship with food than Americans have. First, foods in France are fresh vegetables rather than white rice. Vegetables and fruits are embraced in France, not sneaked into other foods. Snack foods and processed foods are just not offered. In France, if a child rejects a food, never mind…just keep trying! No emotion. French parents take the long view and realize that eventually their children will overcome their resistance. Be patient is their attitude and eventually you will have a wholesome eater.
Theme 4: If children are asked to entertain themselves, they will. Trying to teach stuff to children is not as important in France as letting them explore and discover things on their own. Getting a head start is not a goal of French parenting. Learning to awaken to the world is their model, and this implies self-discovery… self play… and the ability to entertain oneself.
-I do recommend this very readable book. Watching how other cultures parent can be very instructive on this side of the pond. According to Mrs Druckerman, the French parents do many things right by expecting patience, proper eating, good behavior and by encouraging self sufficiency and self discovery.
-I would love to hear what you think. Take the plunge and join the conversation. Write a comment into the blog and you might just see it posted.
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This is your host Dr. Paul Smolen hoping you now know what to say about parenting the French way.
Until next time