An American Mother on the Wisdom of French Parenting

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Journalist Pamela Druckerman compares the French and American ways of parenting. In Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, Druckerman reveals the secrets behind French parenting—from their parenting philosophy to their different view of what children are.


Pamela Druckerman

Comments [17]

tom LI

Yawn, the French this and that...last year (?) it was Dragon Moms, now these lovers of all things French...which feeds their arrogant view of not the world but themselves.

Simple mistakes made by the American Boomer Generation with their parenting. Trying to be their children's friends over being their Parent, making child birth and rearing something special and outside the norm of the last millions of years (US culture is baby and child obsessed to a fault) Boomer Parents creating a culture where being Cool is about what you wear and buy off the rack in overpriced boutiques (because so many of them were so NOT cool) and what you can buy, which they passed on to their spoiled, incorrigible, nasty brats who either their parents hired help to raise, or outsourced to all sorts of tutors and activities, and made them (the children) the central focus of the Family, from sun-up to sun-down.

And the worst mistake they made? Not growing up themselves, clinging to their youth like desperate fools - so now we have 50+ yo Moms dressing like their 20+ something daughters, and the Dads wearing their sons baggy shorts and graphic T's, while driving their Pen/s cars, and fist bumping their other Dad friends...

Feb. 29 2012 05:34 PM

I think Ms. Druckerman needs a lot of attention. Why write about a threesome otherwise? Why would anyone care about her threesome? Does she think this makes her French? I think it makes her an exhibitionist in a way. I'm really tired of people like herself and Amy Chua dissing "American parenting" in favor of something half-baked and hypothetical, and not being American, superior.

Feb. 29 2012 04:05 PM
Glork from Glen Ridge NJ

This is the dame that wrote the magazine story about having a threesome as a birthday gift to her husband? Were their children in the corner having
pate and fromage or macaronns while Daddy was enjoying his gift(s)? Someone is going to take her parenting observations- not advice, mere tourist observations- seriously? Why? Because an editor fell for it?

Feb. 29 2012 02:07 PM

Ms. Drucker made a common error in understanding a purpose of therapy/psycholanalysis. In particular, the point is NOT to avoid getting angry at your children (or in general) but not to lose control of your behavior and to help your children and yourself understand what caused the anger. As many psychologists say, it's not the rupture, it's the repair that's important.

Feb. 29 2012 01:57 PM
Ralph from New York

Re: macaroni & cheese: Accompanied by a light Hungarian white wine, it was said to have been Beethoven's favorite dish. (Beethoven: Impressions by his Contemporaries, by O.G. Sonneck, Dover Books, 1926)

Feb. 29 2012 01:56 PM
Mom_from_Brooklyn from brooklyn

I had the SAME EXACT thought and the only one that benefits from this type of parenting is my Psychologist! She's a few grand richer for it. Boy did 'being a perfect little' child mess me up.

Feb. 29 2012 01:53 PM
meredith from brooklyn, ny

It seems that by "American" the author means overeducated, white, upper-middle class stay at home or weekend parents. Those seem to be the ones who fit the helicopter/hovering stereotype she's comparing with the more laissez-faire French ones. But since America is made up of a multitude of ethnicities, this seems a really false generalization, and bring up the question: if American parenting varies depending on economic and social class, doesn't French parenting do so, too?

Feb. 29 2012 01:51 PM
melissa from somerville

i think it is common sense parents not french. patients. to function in the world without throwing a tantrum is what all parents should shoot for with infants and toddlers. we took our girls out. .we shopped. we enjoyed great food and still do

Feb. 29 2012 01:49 PM

The description of "French Parenting" I'm hearing sounds awfully familiar. Sounds like American Parenting a few decades back... and maybe now in places. I wonder how consistent parenting behavior is across the country.

Feb. 29 2012 01:46 PM

I was raised in the UK and France. In the 70s when I was a child, there was no "child menu" either at home or outside - is this changing in France with the popularity of McDonalds and similar?

Feb. 29 2012 01:45 PM

geez leonard, you seem like you're trying to challenge her in everything she says. You're being so defensive.

Feb. 29 2012 01:42 PM
MD listener from Maryland

The magazine Marie Claire, which is owned by Hearst (who appears to own Penguin, the publisher of Bebe), has removed an article penned by Ms. Drukerman's about the, er...unique gift she gave to her husband for his 40th birthday. The article left open a number of interesting issues concerning marriage and monogamy. I understand why Ms. Druckerman would rather not discuss the article on this book tour, but perhaps you will ask her whether she plans to follow-up on that topic, whether it be by another article or another book.

Feb. 29 2012 01:38 PM
hmi from Brooklyn

In re 400 Blows:
Read an interview with Truffaut 30 years ago. Interviewer talked about Antoine's terrible father. Truffaut's response was, "You must remember, Antoine was a very difficult child.

Feb. 29 2012 01:38 PM

I'm half-french, have lived in France and have attended french schools. I've seen more french kids having tantrums and being yelled at and smacked around or ignored by their parents than I have noticed anywhere else. French parents often have a very short fuse and patience is not their strong point. Their schools apply mindless disciplinary rules that the kids often resent and rebel against. If they behave well it's usually because they are afraid of getting a smack. French culture certainly creates a more maturing environment for children but french parenting, on average, is no better than anyone else's.

I still remember an incident with my mother in a cab where the driver encouraged her to smack me and congratulated her when she did. My amarican mother did not want to appear tolerant in front of the french!

Feb. 29 2012 01:35 PM
Lisa from Forest Hills, NY

I am American. My husband adopted a child from China. We appear to be 100% French in the way we parent. I agree with everything I am hearing so far. The coddling in the US of children is ridiculous. I believe it is because the parents are living through their children and don't want to grow up either.

Feb. 29 2012 01:34 PM

And how about the old proverb, "qui aime bien, chatie bien" (who loves well chastises well.")

Self-control? Some of the greatest (adult) tantrum throwers I know are French! Très dramatiques!

Feb. 29 2012 01:33 PM

She forgot to ask the au pairs what REALLY happens in French homes. My little charges were swatted at table for as minor an infraction as spilling milk, for example. That's the survey to take.

Feb. 29 2012 01:26 PM

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