A little while ago, I picked up Bringing up Bébé, by Pamela Druckerman. In her funny, eye-opening memoir, Druckerman, after having a baby in Paris, sets out to discover why French kids seem to sleep through the night at the age of two months, are able to avoid tantrums in public and tend to eat more well-rounded meals that don`t include chicken fingers or hot dogs. On her journey, Druckerman discovers that the French not only have a different philosophy on raising children, but also have a different way of thinking as to what a child is. Now, I`m definitely not saying that the French do everything better, but here are four things that they are doing of which I took note (and highlighted!)
1. Let kids be kids.
They need to play more than they need their calendar booked solid with extracurricular activities. I`m not saying to scratch those activities altogether, but everything should be done in moderation.
2. Let them discover their autonomy.
As a teacher, I have seen too many kids that expect adults to do things for them which they are clearly able to do on their own, so let them figure some things out for themselves. It shows that they are trusted and helps them gain Independence. Druckerman uses baking as a good example of how children can be given tasks to complete and see a positive end result in which they played a key role.
3. Parenting is not meant to be seen as a sacrifice.
Children are the top priority, yet French parents place a lot of importance of including adult time in their day. Obviously, life changes drastically once kids are in the picture, but finding balance is important.
4. It’s the adult who decides.
French parents seem to have mastered a calm authority which makes it clear to their children that negotiating or talking back is not an option. Children are taught early on about boundaries and respect.
I think everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt, and there is definitely a gray area when it comes to the above-mentioned points, but here’s hoping that remembering these things will make for one less embarrassing scene which ends in me storming out of a department store with a kid kicking and screaming under my arm because I didn’t buy her the doll she wanted.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you read the book (or even if you didn’t read it).