Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
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Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  14,631 ratings  ·  2,515 reviews
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 t...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jennifer
The popularity of books like this give the impression that today's American parents are willing to take advice from anyone other than their own relatives. The most helpful advice the French have about child rearing is very traditional, the sorts of things people everywhere have said for generations: don't pick the baby up the moment it fusses, No means no, you have to try a bite of everything, children and parents are happier when the parents are in charge. Excellent advice, and worth reading if...more
Diana Holquist
The fetishization of the French (or the Chinese or whatever the 'hot' culture of the moment is) bugs me, to no end. I think that when you're a stranger in a strange land, as Druckerman was, you end up putting a great deal of emphasis on fitting in and behaving to the detriment of what's truly important. Druckerman admits toward the end of the book, as her daughter becomes more and more "French," that she's a bit disturbed and unsettled and not all that pleased by the results of her own "French"...more
April
I failed to appreciate much of what this book had to offer based on many poorly backed assumptions and one substantial thought flaw. The author mentions that she believes the French public services don't explain the differences in parenting that she sees. One could easily argue that if many American parents didn't have to worry about child care costs, preschool, college tuition or health insurance their parenting styles would be vastly different.

There are far too many references to one extreme e...more
Charles
The basis of the book has been recounted, but is worth retelling. An American author finds herself in Paris because of her husband's job. As she emphasizes, she is American; she does not live in France because of francophilia; she does not imagine that she will stay or live in France.

But... When she had her daughter in France, she was struck -- repeatedly, and at many levels -- at the difference between French and American children. Differences in how they behave, interact with children and adul...more
Emily Crowe
It's so interesting reading this book as a non-parent (and as somebody who never intends to be a parent). It's clear to me that most current American parents are slaves to their children in a way that my own parents were not. As someone who works with the public on a daily basis in a place that caters to children & families (as well as adults), I'm frankly appalled at some of the behaviors I see that would never have been tolerated a generation ago. I am aware, though, that it's easy to be s...more
Helen
Also known as "French children don't throw food". One of the best parenting books I've ever read, and entertaining as well! I actually took notes and have been trying some things out. I love the author's attitude and I can see a lot of logic in many of the French ideas. But regardless, I really enjoyed reading the story of this family!
Steven Gaskin
There's a lot to filter out in this book - specifically, the author's lack of objectivity, considering that she appears to live in a manner to which most people do not have the financial means to aspire - but the core ideas she's captured from her experiences in Paris are very useful for parents struggling to raise their children with discipline and manners without resorting to shouting. I was looking for some tools to communicate with and educate my son, as at 3 and a half, he's becoming increa...more
Jessica
I've always had a soft spot for the French (well, except for that kid, Pierre, who took one of my classes and affirmed every single bad stereotype of Parisians I'd ever heard, and then some). I especially love to read about how Americans perceive French life; I suppose this is an example of me living vicariously through my book choices. Anyway. Bringing Up Bebe has been popping up on my various radar screens for weeks, and I've been at my wit's end with my newly minted three year old lately, so...more
Amanda
This will be one of the only - if not THE only - parenting style books I read. I'm a Francophile anyway, but I loved this American expat's take on the study of French parenting & how she tried to integrate it, as best she could, into her children's lives while living in Paris. Firm rules & boundaries, but with freedom within that. Respect for children as intelligent beings capable of learning - and NOT in need of constant hand holding to do so. Respecting the fact that parents have lives...more
Gail
I've purposefully shied away from so many parenting books on the bookstore shelves these days. It seems like most of those geared toward pregnancy put you in a mild panic about all the things that could go wrong. And the rest? They induce a sense of fear, guilt and inferiority that, book lover though I am, I don't want to gravitate toward as I enjoy this stress-free pregnancy of mine.

BUT...I'd heard a lot of discussion about this particular book and I have to say, if it ends up being the ONLY b...more
Amy
I loved this book and most of the advice. I do think think that 'the pause' is enacted way too early and, although I agree with a feeding schedule, four times a day isn't enough for an infant in my opinion. I love how the French teach their children the importance of Bonjour, Merci, Au Revior, as well as how they introduce them to food and get them involved in the kitchen. Some of the reviewers lambasted the author for depicting the parenting styles of upper-class Parisians as 'out of touch' wit...more
Lynn
This book is terrible and from a journalist, shockingly unresearched. The author often cites one person or some French moms she spoke to to support her assertions about the French way! The same is true for her descriptions of an American she knows whose baby does xyz and that means all Americans parent in that way!

The book is also filled with inaccuracies. The supposedly French and superior method of raising children described by the author is so obvious and indistinguishable from what many Amer...more
Kimberly
Infuriating. But once I got past the crazy, indulgent American parent v. calm, wise, strict French parent nonsense, I could enjoy this author's engaging, witty writing. Obviously I disagree with the premise that the French are better parents. Sorry, a 2-month-old sleeping through the night is not uniquely French. Neither is an obedient, well-mannered child. The author's view of parents in Paris, as well as her research of numerous French parenting ideas, is extensive. Had she applied her journal...more
Katie
This. THIS. It was such a relief to read this. I've worked with kids since 7th grade, and really want at least one of my own, but - well, frankly, a lot of people make it seem like the worst thing ever. "Forget sleep, when you have kids" - "Enjoy your LAST VACATION THAT'S ACTUALLY FUN" - "Good luck eating chicken fingers the rest of your life." I always thought that sounded so utterly sad. I, personally, always really loved hanging out with kids but had the sort of subconscious thought that mayb...more
Bruce
As a retired pediatrician and a grandfather, I am often intrigued by literature pertaining to child rearing, and when I read several reviews of this book and watched an interview with the author, I was especially interested in reading the book for myself. Druckerman is an American, married to an Englishman, who has lived in Paris for a number of years, and she has had three children during her sojourn there. When she and her husband noticed, to their chagrin, how much easier the French managed c...more
Kim G
Mar 20, 2012 Kim G rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
At the core of this book are a few decent parenting strategies (it's OK to say no in a firm but rational way, it's OK to let your baby shift around and cry for a few minutes while sleeping because they might just be between sleep cycles, believe in your kids and you'll be surprised what they can do, it doesn't make you a selfish monster to have your own time and your marriage be priorities) so I know I shouldn't completely take a dump on it, but for me those ideas were drowned out by soooo much...more
Michelle
May 01, 2012 Michelle rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Michelle by: parenting book club
Shelves: never-finished
I started reading this book b/c I had heard about it, and then a new parenting bookclub that I'm in had talked about it a lot. So I came to it with curiosity and hope for insightful perspectives. Instead, I could barely get through the intro and first chapter. Unlike many people, I did not like this book.

The author writes well, but I could tell that she is a journalist (in a bad way) b/c she writes in soundbites. It's very catchy, sexy, but she makes sweeping generalizations, and her writing is...more
Ben
I was originally going to read the first couple of chapters, which deal with infants, and stop there. But much to my surprise, this was a far better book than I had imagined. What I was expecting was another pat, self-help-section miracle solution to everyone's parenting woes type of book (the endorsement by and comparison to French Women Don't Get Fat wasn't helping). What I found instead was an honest, informative, well-researched, and well-written account of an American mother raising childre...more
Zelda
Nov 08, 2013 Zelda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Let me start by saying that I could write a doctoral thesis on this book. You know, if I were a lot smarter and still in school and hadn't had to look up how to spell "thesis".

Let's also start from a premise in which I have no children. The four small people wandering around my home are a tribe of nomads and they are just passing through so I have no dog in this fight regarding the best way to raise children. Because I don't have four of them so my self worth isn't riding on the outcome of this...more
Monique
The British title of this book is "French children don't throw food" - Parenting secrets from Paris -
A very unusual mix of constructive observation and funny appraisal of how French mothers bring up babies and children. It is extremely well researched and many "experts" are quoted to support P. Druckerman's comparisons between the French/Anglo-Saxon and American approach to parenting. The pivotal arguments in the book however come from the hands-on lessons from her french friends and neighbours....more
Louise
First, let's clear something up, shall we? No, I am not pregnant nor do I have any plans to be in the near future.

I picked up this book because It was in the office, the cover looked nice, it had a blurb from Amy Chua in the back, and I've always wondered why American children are unpleasant compared to those of other cultures. This book attempts to answer that question with a look at how the French bring up their kids. I liked the idea of hard limits and boundaries, what the book refers to as c...more
Emily
I enjoyed Ms. Druckerman's self-deprecating exploration of French parenting techniques and was gratified to see that, at least in some respects, I could be considered "French." Actually, several of the ideas Ms. Druckerman discusses are very similar to The Baby Whisperer approach which I loved when my boys were babies.

If I could take only one concept away from this book, it would be that of l'equilibre - "not letting any one part of life--including parenting--overwhelm the rest." French parenti...more
Stevie
Having read many reviews on this book, I knew to not expect anything scholarly, but rather, one woman's observations from her life.

Even still, it was BORING. I cannot buy into the fact that EVERY French child is raised exactly the same, and that EVERY French child turns out well behaved.

On the flip side, perhaps because I'm not an upper-crust, Manhattan parent, I don't personally know any American that parents the way she suggests. If anything, within my community, more parents are like the Fre...more
Katie
I was surprised at how much I disliked this book. I couldn't read very much without putting it down in disgust. It just made me so mad. American and French society are so different that of COURSE American parents differ in their parenting styles. I don't think one journalist talking to a bunch of friends and neighbors can constitute a new parenting style or even be included as a parenting book.

I especially disliked the section on sleeping babies. To someone who has tried "la stinkin' Pause" for...more
Rose
(NB my 2 stars: 'It was ok' is probably more based on the content than the author's work)

I found it entertaining and easy to read but wish I never had!
Having just arrived in France and happily learning I was pregnant, I bought this book after reading reviews promising it would give me some insight into the culture of child-raising here and amuse me to boot. It did. But there was another 'to boot' - it completely got me down about this new culture I'd just committed to! It seems I'm not just not...more
 ~Geektastic~
I found this book very helpful. BUT, like many e-books, it tricked me by ending at the 86% mark- after that it was all index, etc. I hate that! I thought I had a good 10% left!

Format woes aside, I enjoyed this little foray into the parenting how-to genre, mostly because it wasn't so much a "how-to" as it was a borderline anthropology experiment. It relies on a premise I've seen done several times over the last few years, starting with French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook. Basically, an American/B...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This isn't so much a review as a personal post, and I can't really apologise for that. It's a topic that's clearly personal to me, as I'll explain, and one that a lot of us love to discuss. Hopefully, my meandering discussion will make you interested in reading this, because I think all new parents, or people currently pregnant or planning on having kids, would really benefit from reading this.

I wanted to read this because I was curious, and because I heard the author interviewed on CBC radio, a...more
Chris Herring
Feb 25, 2012 Chris Herring rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Fathers
Recommended to Chris by: NPR
Shelves: nonfiction
This is by far the best parenting book I've read (I've read many). I know it’s controversial, but to me it is really an enlightening book that a lot of fathers I know would really benefit from — it's definitely not a book written for moms only. Ever since I became a father I have been amazed by the extraordinarily paradoxical feelings I have every day: I want to protect my children so much, that I know I am holding them back from becoming the best human beings they alone are capable of. This is...more
Melissa Freeman
A very interesting, light and entertaining read. The author writes well, and doesn't ramble, or write excessive pats on the back, or self pitying paragraphs.

I found the cross-cultural parenting differences intriguing, and it has definitely given me a few ideas to take home, especially re:encouraging adult time, children playing by themselves as an important skill, children learning patience and not interrupting adult conversations, trying different foods (especially those I had written off as ad...more
Allison Dellion
I would actually give this book 3.5 stars. What she really means by 'French parents' are the few French people she knows in Paris and by 'American parents' she really means her upper class friends from Manhattan, which are obviously generalizations of how parents really behave. Too much of the time I felt like the author only cared about how she was perceived by other parents in France, instead of focusing on creating well-adjusted, caring people. She focused on the fact that parents should just...more
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Pamela Druckerman is an American journalist and the author of Bringing Up Bébé (The Penguin Press: 2012); the U.K. version of the same book - French Children Don’t Throw Food (Doubleday UK: 2012); and Lust In Translation (The Penguin Press: 2007).

From 1997 to 2002 she was a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, based in Buenos Aires, São Paulo and New York. Her Op-eds and articles have since...more
More about Pamela Druckerman...
Lust in Translation: The Rules of Infidelity from Tokyo to Tennessee Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting French Parents Don't Give in: Practical Tips for Raising Your Child the French Way W Paryżu dzieci nie grymaszą Was französische Eltern besser machen

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“Within a few hours of meeting him, I realized that "love at first sight" just means feeling immediately and extremely calm with someone.” 7 likes
“When I ask French parents what they most want for their children, they say things like "to feel comfortable in their own skin" and "to find their path in the world." They want their kids to develop their own tastes and opinions. In fact, French parents worry if their kids are too docile. They want them to have character.

But they believe that children can achieve these goals only if they respect boundaries and have self-control. So alongside character, there has to be cadre.
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