Baguettes vs. Big Macs: A Series on French vs. American Parenting
Someone turned to me the other day in response to a comment I made, slightly in jest about depriving my kids, and said: “What kind of mother are you?!”
I laughed it off but it got me thinking. I don’t really like putting myself in any kind of box, unless it is dark, sound and toddler proof for about eight hours. This question came up once before, when all the media hype around Pamela Drucker’s Bringing up Bebe (also published as French Kids Don’t Throw Food) first emerged. At the time, a number of my friends hopped on the various social media lines and asked me if it was true? Do the French really have ‘le cadre?’ Am I raising my child like the French or Americans?
Blimey, I hadn’t garnered this much interest since it was announced that French women don’t get fat. And anyone who has heard me whinge about the fact that I still can’t fit in my pre-maternity clothes five years later knows this isn’t true. But maybe that’s the American in me.
Now Pamela has a second book out, a guide to French Parenting based on her first book. She also appears to have landed herself a column on The Huffington Post. OK, yes I am a wee bit jealous, that as a Franco-American, I didn’t think to cash-in on this. Most of what she talks about, I’ve been commenting on informally to anyone willing to listen for years, long before even having kids. And yet perhaps here is a claim to fame I might not want. Seriously, have you seen some of the scathing comments people are leaving? The vitriol begs the question: Doth the ladies protest too much?
We are all fallible, including the French, but no one likes to have their weaknesses pointed out by others. I can criticize my family but you may not. When it comes to ourselves and ‘our kind’, we don’t always react rationally. Given the intensity of some of these critics, one is left to wonder if she isn’t perhaps hitting a nerve buried. Join me while I explore some of the more contentious points in French parenting like corporal punishment and leaving kids to fend for themselves along with random observations like the prominence of French three- and four-year-olds with dummies -aka pacifier- and security blankets?