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Bringing up Bébé

One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
Druckerman, Pamela (Book - 2012 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Bringing up Bébé
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The secret behind France's astonishingly well-behaved children. When American journalist Pamela Druckerman has a baby in Paris, she doesn't aspire to become a "French parent." French parenting isn't a known thing, like French fashion or French cheese. Even French parents themselves insist they aren't doing anything special. Yet, the French children Druckerman knows sleep through the night at two or three months old while those of her American friends take a year or more. French kids eat well-rounded meals that are more likely to include braised leeks than chicken nuggets. And while her American friends spend their visits resolving spats between their kids, her French friends sip coffee while the kids play. Motherhood itself is a whole different experience in France. There's no role model, as there is in America, for the harried new mom with no life of her own. French mothers assume that even good parents aren't at the constant service of their children and that there's no need to feel guilty about this. They have an easy, calm authority with their kids that Druckerman can only envy. Of course, French parenting wouldn't be worth talking about if it produced robotic, joyless children. In fact, French kids are just as boisterous, curious, and creative as Americans. They're just far better behaved and more in command of themselves. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are- by design-toddling around and discovering the world at their own pace. With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman-a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal -sets out to learn the secrets to raising a society of good little sleepers, gourmet eaters, and reasonably relaxed parents. She discovers that French parents are extremely strict about some things and strikingly permissive about others. And she realizes that to be a different kind of parent, you don't just need a different parenting philosophy. You need a very different view of what a child actually is. While finding her own firm non , Druckerman discovers that children-including her own-are capable of feats she'd never imagined.
Authors: Druckerman, Pamela
Title: Bringing up bébé
one American mother discovers the wisdom of French parenting
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2012.
Characteristics: xviii, 284 p. ;,24 cm.
Contents: French children don't throw food
Are you waiting for a child?
Paris is burping
Doing her nights
Wait!
Tiny little humans
Day care?
Bébé au lait
The perfect mother doesn't exist
Caca boudin
Double entendre
I adore this baguette
You just have to taste it
It's me who decides
Let him live his life
The future in French.
Alternate Title: Bringing up baby
ISBN: 9781594203336
1594203334
Statement of Responsibility: Pamela Druckerman
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 267-278) and index.
Subject Headings: Child rearing France. Parent and child France. Child rearing United States. Parent and child United States.
Topical Term: Child rearing
Parent and child
Child rearing
Parent and child
LCCN: 2011038732
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Jul 09, 2014
  • tmb83 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Makes you re-think the American way of raising children.

Apr 11, 2014
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Ah, if only I'd read this last summer or fall, sometime before my five-month-old was born, because I'm quite drawn to many of the ideas. Some I'd already claimed as my own* before encountering the book, some were vague notions that have now been articulated and solidified for me, and some still feel rather surprising and foreign. I'm not one to unquestioningly adopt any model--parenting, leadership, eating, or what you will--without tweaking it and making it my own, but I believe considering and practicing these ideas will make me a more effective parent.
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"Model" seems the best word I can think of to describe what Druckerman is presenting; it's an examination of parenting, but not presented as a formula or handbook as many others are--part memoir, part sociological comparison, part research, it's her investigation into the cultural framework from which French parents operate, as understood through her American lens. Druckerman found herself an accidental, reluctant expatriate by way of marriage (to an Englishman) in Paris in her mid-thirties, feeling like her three young children were wildly out of control, loud, and difficult compared to their peers. Her experience as a parent seemed drastically different--and much less successful--than the French parents she saw all around her. So she decided to make a study of them to see what practices she could imitate, and in doing so she learned she first had to come to understand an entirely different mindset for thinking about parents and children.
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At the heart of that framework is the idea that children are fully aware, rational, capable humans from birth as deserving of respect and equal treatment as any adult, and that the role of parents is to help them grow into their autonomy through polite teaching within a frame of firm limits. Children are taught to manage themselves, respect the needs of parents, and integrate into adult society as quickly and seamlessly as possible. That sounds simple enough when summarized, but of course there is much more to it--and its differences from the predominant American approaches--than might be expected. Druckerman's explorations are revelatory, and her writing is engaging and entertaining. I expect anyone who works with or spends time around children--parent or not--would enjoy reading this simply for its insights, and many would find it more than a little helpful.

Aug 04, 2013
  • Cecilturtle rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Finally! An American book on parenting that makes sense! Like Dominique in the book, I am Druckerman's doppelganger: raised in France, I now live and raise my child in North America. Like her, I was torn between what culturally made sense to me and what I was observing around me. Despite getting influenced by my environment (incipient guilt, lack of authority), I mostly stuck to my French roots, namely when it came to having time to myself, encouraging autonomy and explaining the whys and importance of limits.
Reading Druckerman was both a cultural validation and a reminder that - for the most part - it is possible to have well-behaved children. Her sense of humour, curiosity and honesty made the read all the more compelling and entertaining, an all around delight both for information and pleasure.
I highly recommend this book for mothers-to-be and mothers of young children.

May 07, 2013
  • gopherguts rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

probably the best parenting book i've read!
laugh out loud funny , too!

Mar 11, 2013
  • kathleenwyatt rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Profoundly important book for new mothers to read. Provides perspective on two ways of rearing children, North American on the one hand, and French, on the other. There will be no doubt as to which system is the better. I wish that all parents could read this book and that it had been available when I was raising. My family.

Jan 28, 2013
  • andreas1111 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I thought this book was both useful and fun to read. It's well written and humorous. Some of her anecdotes poking fun at the archetypes of obsessive American parenting are pretty funny. I like that she points out all the good about "French" parenting without holding it up as some ideal perfection.

If you feel, as I do, that we obsess too much about the most minute parenting decisions, this book is an empowering read. I'd also recommend "Free Range Kids"

Dec 30, 2012
  • Librarianne rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A friend who raised an infant in France recommended this book to me and it has turned out to be the best thing I've read so far in preparation for parenthood. (It may actually be the only parenting book I read more than a few pages of.) The author presents anecdotes and historical facts about childrearing philosophies in France, the US and elsewhere, in a humorous and non-judgmental way that actually makes me feel empowered to make reasonable choices based on my child's unique nature, rather than adopting an 'approved' parenting philosophy prior to birth as we often feel pressured to do in the US.

Nov 18, 2012
  • danielestes rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

You would have to have a preconceived biased against French culture and/or an alternative style of parenting not to be delighted this book. And truthfully, the parenting methods related here aren't all that alternative. Traditional is probably a better word. Where American parents tend to be obsessively hands-on, the French are decidedly hands-off.

The author, Pamela Druckerman, is an American expatriate, married to an Englishman, and living in Paris. She is in a unique position to observe, and often marvel at, the differences of both countries. Druckerman's writing style is so appealing here—replete with that right amount of sympathetic humor—that you look forward to tagging along all the way to the end.

One of the best books on parenting that I've read--it's a well told account of raising her kids in France and how parenting is different there than in the U.S.

Aug 25, 2012
  • bookshelves rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Opening up a book on parenting is always an adventure. _Bringing up Bebe_ is an enlightening view of an American woman's interpretation of the French method. Drawn in both broad strokes and in detailed real-life examples, I found the book to both fascinating and perplexing. Drucker nicely illustrates the differences between the French and the Americans with respect to pregnancy and raising babies and children. There were a number of eye-opening observations about French mothers that I look forward to trying out with my own children someday.

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Apr 04, 2012
  • DanniOcean rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Last year’s go-to parenting book was Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, about parenting the Chinese way; this year we travel to France to see how les chic mamans do it. While living in Paris author Pamela Druckerman, former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, never paid much attention to how French children behaved, until she had one of her own. She quickly became aware that while eating out was an exercise in outracing tantrums for she and her husband, other toddlers at French restaurants were calm. Serene even. And eating whatever was placed in front of them, not screaming for McNuggets des poulet. She investigates further. She encounters a mother embarrassed that her infant was not yet sleeping through the night – at four months old – because the majority of French infants do so by two months. Some of the techniques Drukerman describes may sound harsh or neglectful – pausing five or ten minutes before attending a crying baby, for instance – but she becomes convinced that it is not about selfishly willing your baby to go back to sleep so you can get more shut eye, it is (and this is simplifying her message) about observing children simply being children and letting them work certain things out on their own. This gives French parents time for themselves too, without becoming maman-taxis, human taxis for their over-activitied children. In fact, since the government subsidises daycare, French parents often hire babysitters to do the activity-taxiing, while they take time for themselves. It sounds very civilized but the key phrase, in case you missed it, was “government subsidizes daycare”. North American parents do not often have that particular luxury, but Druckerman argues that they do have the luxury of limiting the number of activities their children do, so both parents and kids are not run ragged by the end of a day or week. As for the guilt that wracks every imperfect parent, the French cope with that simply by acknowledging that the “perfect” parent does not exist. And lest this sound like Druckerman is, in fact, the thing that does not exist, she relates in some detail how hard it became to be a chic maman Francaise when her twin sons were born. As it turns out like most things in life, it is all about moderation and finding a balance that works pour vous.

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