According to Pamela Druckerman, author of “Raising Bèbè”, we have a lot to learn from the French about parenting. Living in Paris, she’s noticed that French parents speak to their children in firm voices, take time for themselves, and refuse to let their wee ones eat Reddi Whip straight from the bottle (only escargot and duck confit).
Books like this annoy me. “Cultures” have not figured out parenting. People, namely parents, figure out parenting on a day-to-day, kid-to-kid level (my first child ate raw broccoli and fish; my second will only consume pasta and strawberries). Amy Chua threw us all into a tailspin with her Battle Hymn to tiger parenting. Now Druckerman thinks we should pay homage to le French.
Or not. Having just spent a week in a resort dominated by French people, I am here to tell you that you that French kids are no better than ours. They whine incessantly when denied a second go at the soft serve, consume hot dogs, pizza and french fries with Olympic vigor, and wail like trapped hyenas when dropped off at the kids club (even when the staff whisper sweet french nothings in their ear, which happens to do nothing for my own bèbès).
By the pool, I saw a French father hit a kid who refused to leave his lounger. I saw a mother’s monumental exasperation over her daughter’s insistence that she be allowed a giant floating turtle. And make no mistake, French kids hate sunscreen just as much as American ones.
I’m all for advice. God knows I need it. But let’s not be suckered into thinking a whole nation has it right — especially one with generous paid maternity leave, six weeks holiday, free preschool, generous pensions and a belief that it is still okay to smoke — in front of kids. Based on my sample size of 1,700, they are stumbling along just like the rest of us.