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

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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.

284 pages, Hardcover

First published February 7, 2012

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About the author

Pamela Druckerman

22 books364 followers
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 appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Observer, the Financial Times, New York Magazine, Monocle and Marie Claire. She has been a commentator on the Today Show, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Al Jazeera International, BBC Women’s Hour, the CBC, CNBC, and Oprah.com.

Pamela has a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University. She has studied (with varying degrees of success) French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Hebrew, and has trained in improvisational comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Chicago City Limits. She lives in Paris.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,070 reviews
Profile Image for Jennifer.
176 reviews58 followers
April 25, 2012
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 these are unfamiliar concepts to you. A grandparent could give this book as a gift, and thus sneakily impart their own child rearing wisdom to the next generation.

What truly interested me about this book was its insights into a monolithic culture. Druckerman tells us that her French counterparts are more relaxed about parenting, and it is easy to see why. Unlike the USA, France does issue handbooks when babies are born. There is, like so many other things in their nation, one approved way of parenting, and everyone agrees to it. Child care workers, grandparents, teachers, everyone you meet on the street shares the same child rearing philosophy, so French parents have a support system which does not exist in America. Imagine if everyone who came into contact with your children was going to reinforce the very same standards you were trying to teach them. That alone would make parenting easier.

However, this does not mean they are not under pressure. They may accept the pressures of their society, which are very different from ours, but that is not the same as not feeling them. For example, weight control is a national obsession among the French. Not having regained your figure three months after giving birth is considered shameful. Literally. French husbands, doctors, relatives, friends, all feel that a woman who has not lost her pregnancy weight by three months is failing her duty as a wife and woman and will tell her so.

Gender roles are more rigid in France, with women accepting that they will be paid less, and do more child rearing, more housework. Druckerman is impressed that despite this, they complain less. However, her Parisian friends admit that one of the reasons they return to work so soon, keep trim, etc is because "men leave." (France has divorce rates similar to the US, around 50%, and is much more accepting of infidelity.) Druckerman doesn't investigate these comments, but I wish she had. There were just enough of them sprinkled throughout for me to wonder if the French women were not so much happy as resigned. (France is the only nation among 18 recently studied with depression rates higher than the US.)

The other main point that struck me as I read is that, no matter what a parent chooses, it will always be "for the good of the child." In France, it is considered to be good for the children to enter childcare before a year old (France has highly trained childcare workers.). It is good for them to be autonomous, which translates to spending a lot of time away from their parents. It is good for them to have parents who have their own lives.

I have never met a parent who said, "Well, I don't think this is the best thing for my son, but it is what I want, so he'll have to deal with it." No. Nobody says that. Whether we are talking about sending a child to summer camp, taking a higher paying job with more hours, having a family game night, a parent's alone time, or getting - or not getting - a divorce, we say it is for our child's benefit. That the French also believe this is no surprise, but neither is it proof that their practices are superior.

Because Druckerman is only looking at the parenting of very young children (and, again, I think a lot of the parenting specific advice she received in France is excellent) we really cannot fairly judge whether the French are wiser parents, because, in the end, it is not about whose baby slept through the night earlier. It is about the adults they become, how they handle themselves in adversity and success, their integrity and humility and compassion for others. At least, it always has been to me.
Author 11 books126 followers
September 10, 2013
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" parenting.

Be careful what you wish for.

But Druckerman's upper class, wealthy French friends do some things right, which makes this book a worthwhile and very funny, well-written read. The problem is, they also get a lot of crucial stuff very, very wrong. Unfortunately, Ms. Druckerman glosses these aspects of the culture.

First, just about all of the good stuff of Druckerman's advice--brilliantly packaged and marketed as "French" wisdom--is common sense. Let your kid experience frustration, let him wait (le pause? really?), don't follow him around the playground like a crazed idjit, have some rules (le cadre). The idea that this "wisdom" is French is absurd.

Meanwhile, Druckerman doesn't have much to say about a culture that disdains breastfeeding or that demands a mother's focus (and, more disturbingly, her doctor's) be on pleasing "le monsieur" (the husband) by losing weight tout de suite and getting mama back in "working" order (tummy tucks and perimeal re-education--that is, vagina tightening physical therapy--all paid for by the state).

Druckerman also downplays the importance of the most vital French parenting wisdom -- year-long state-paid maternity leaves, months of vacation time, free daycare, and free preschool.

Think about that. No, really--think about it. Wow. How anti-American is all that?!? ***

I wish the book had more to say on this. But Ms. Druckerman would rather write about spinach soufflés for toddlers and sleeping troubles (yawn!) and how awful Americans are. Again, and again, and again. It becomes tiring, then irritating, then just plain absurd. C'mon Pam, grow a pair! We're not all that bad and the French aren't all that good.

Still, reading Bringing up Bebe is like passing a pleasant afternoon with a mom you've just met at the playground. She doesn't say anything too interesting or provocative, and she's a bit muddled in her thinking, but it's a fine way to pass the time if you don't take her too seriously.

***as many commenters have pointed out below, I mean "anti-American" in a sarcastic way, as in: "anti-the-current-state-of-politics-in-America-where-social-programs-are-deeply-distrusted-and-unfunded." I would change this sentence to "anti-capitalist" as suggested below, but this sentence caused so much discussion, I'm leaving it as is. It really is the crux of why Druckerman's book misses the point about how to successfully raise very young children: Most mothers need the kind of help that perhaps only the state can give and that will never happen in the current political climate in the US.
Profile Image for Katie.
275 reviews2 followers
August 30, 2013
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 maybe it wouldn't be fun any more once they were my own, because I was going to become a zombie whose really nice purse was filled with Goldfish cracker crumbs and broken dreams.

While I had the underlying thought that maybe it wouldn't be fun, it conflicted with the idea of, "Well, maybe it *could* be. I mean, it can't all be bad." And what the author describes as the "French" method of parenting is pretty much word for word how I always thought I would be as a parent, particularly when discussing the magic of the word "no." I just never got that. I never understood why parents act as though seeing their kids cry for the stupidest reasons was going to break them psychologically. Granted, I have the benefit of working with toddlers and preschoolers, so I've seen tantrums over everything under the sun, which has given me the benefit of some practice/foresight. In that sense, this book is a great resource to sort of get your head in the game before the newbie gets here; make some loose decisions about what you're going to do beforehand and the it's easier to follow through.

I was absolutely cracking up at some of the behaviors/stories she describes, my favorite being my #1 annoyance: Manic Mommy Narration. I've seen this so many times I've lost count, and it's truly grating.


SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP. Truly, I was thrilled someone actually noticed this, and that the pediatrician she interviewed had the same thought as me: You're doing it to reassure the world that You are an Awesome Parent. Meanwhile, everyone around you thinks you're nuts.

One of the best things Druckerman discusses is tone. The scene where she's at the playground with her son who keeps running to the gate is very telling. I've learned the hard way that tone is everything; you basically have to talk to your kids in a tone that says, "This is it. This is life. Do it." I think it sounds harsh to be repeating "It's me who decides!" all day, but at the same time, I feel as though it's often forgotten that it's reassuring to kids to have a leader. It can be extremely disorienting when the Big Person is acting nervous about something - no matter what their words actually are, the tone is everything. If stepping on a scale is making your mom's voice get tighter, then CLEARLY this is A Very Bad Idea. That scale is going to swallow you up. But speaking with confidence, and acting as though it's an inevitable fact of life, makes kids feel better, not worse.

Her discussion of The Pause was great in the same way; while she framed it mostly to do with listening to children and their needs (extremely important), I feel like it also gives parents a moment to gather themselves as well. I can imagine stumbling into a dark bedroom at night where a crying child lay, and just doing anything to help them. That makes complete sense. But forcing yourself to stop for a second gives you the parent a moment to think, not just for the kid's sake, but so you don't live your life feeling like you're on a high wire.

Overall, I loved this book because it fell in line with the idea that, you cannot be a great parent if you're stressed all the time and never take time your yourself; you cannot enjoy your children if they don't play by the rules. I've often said that I'm strict/consistent with kids because I *don't* have patience, not because I'm some saint. I know from experience that kids aren't fun when they're not given boundaries and feel safe. I'll definitely be passing this on.
Profile Image for Charles.
260 reviews40 followers
September 22, 2012
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 adults, how they play with toys.... She notes (as have I) that when she walked into the home of Americans, the house was chaotic, toys asunder, children whining, eating whatever and whenever; the mothers were harried, dressed slovenly; parents stressed and distant. None of this was true among French families with small children. Their play was quiet and creative, toys were few and neat, interactions (especially with adults) were polite, they ate what their parents ate and when they ate it; the French women were neatly dressed, quickly obtaining their desired weight and size, maquillage applied. French couples went out, and seemed closer than before children.

And this doesn't even include the differences in sleeping (through the night); early and successful toileting. That French PRE-school kids have a three course meal, cooked on site, every day (that includes le frommage but no dessert). That they don't snack between meals but we Americans do.

Why the differences? Well, there are many reasons, which the author attempts to divine.

Some have complained that the author's comments are observational, not scientific. True. But that makes her observations and comments no less valid; or, even, less true.

I will say this: I do not think that there will be a single open minded mother that will not be affected by this book. I will even say this: I do not think that there will be a single open minded mother who will not do something different in raising a child after reading this book. That is strong praise, indeed. For those raising, contemplating raising, or having raised a child, I recommend this book. No: not recommend. They should read this book. Really. It's that interesting, provocative, and instructive.
Profile Image for momruncraft.
391 reviews29 followers
August 19, 2012
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 example of American parenting gone wrong and far too many examples of a few observations of French parenting gone right.

I do think there is a generational phenomenon of helicopter parenting and Mommy martyrdom; however, I don't think that defines America's parenting practice as a whole. While I appreciate the mentioned French notion of fostering autonomy, I don't believe it was an earth shattering new parenting philosophy or approach. I laughed through the explanation of fostering autonomy by allowing children one swear word, one that has been used and said by many generations: "caca boudin" (translated to caca sausage). Apparently, if I let my boys run around the house saying "shit", as it is only to be done in private, they are gaining important lessons in self worth and autonomy. Ummmmm, ok.

There does seem to be a cultural difference in the construction of parenting guilt. Likely fueled by a judgmental and competitive American society where moms are judged on every decision or choice: natural birth or epidural, breastfeed or bottle. The author argues that the judgement comes from having multiple different parenting philosophies and attempting to validate your choices. French parenting is made easier by one cultural approach. Americans believe faster development is a sign of better parenting, while the French all believe in exposure and joy. No rush. Again, yes, there are parents who over-schedule, over indulge, over parent, but I fail to see that as an entire American phenomenon.

The discussion about body image maddened me. American women feel the need to sacrifice their body for their children, unable to resist the temptation to overindulge. While French women, adhere to their strict diets, pop out the kid, and bounce back immediately. Blah blah blah.

Many of the French women work, as it is made much easier by state preschools and child care. The teachers are well trained and schooled, parents often resume their pre-baby lives but do so with a new member. Again, I fail to see how the author can say this doesn't affect the difference in parenting styles.

I think the book as a whole sparks interesting conversation, I just wish it hadn't been written in unfounded blanket statements.
Profile Image for Emily Crowe.
355 reviews129 followers
September 3, 2014
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 smug and judgmental when you're not the parent/guardian of a small child, though. :)
Profile Image for Helen.
607 reviews5 followers
February 10, 2012
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!
Profile Image for Gail.
1,041 reviews344 followers
June 1, 2012
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 book on parenting I read in the lead-up to my child's birth this fall, I'm better off for having made the choice.

For some quick background, the author is an American who finds herself living with her British husband in Paris at the time of their daughter's birth. Experiencing motherhood herself, Druckerman witnesses firsthand the differences in how the French families around her are raising their children and the ways in which she's drawn to the modern-day, American style of parenting she's most familiar with.

But that's the thing—this modern version of American parenting? ATTACHMENT parenting, as they call it? It's the antithesis of the way the French do it and, I believe, the way Americans USED to parent, 30 to 40 years ago. (In short, I think it's all a bit nutty).

I borrowed a library copy of this book but intend to purchase my own, as I dog-earred so many pages (a guilty habit of mine!) that I want to review it again in full at my own leisure.

Some wonderful parenting concepts explored inside the book, a favorite being this idea known as The Pause, or letting your infant child lay in his/her crib for 5-10 minutes and fuss before stepping in to see if there is a wet diaper or empty belly as the root cause of the problem. As the French have learned (and Druckerman provides research to support), infants need to teach themselves to fall back asleep—it's a learning process. But because Americans are so quick to jump in and intervene, it's a key reason why they set their children up to be unable to sleep through the night at 8, 9 or 10 months old.

Other major takeaways touch on the emphasis the French put on establishing a "cadre" or framework of discipline and responsibility for their children; the importance of manners (it's not just please and thank you but hello and goodbye for the French); instilling a child's independence (ie, not hovering over them on the playground) and teaching them how to behave at the dinner table, all the while eating food that vastly trumps our "chicken tenders friendly" U.S. kids' menus.

Some may balk at Druckerman's writing or the book's subject material, but I couldn't help but fall madly in love with these concepts. I've grown SO accustomed to seeing American children be the center of their parents' universe (constantly interrupting them in conversations, engaging their parents in their meltdowns at the dinner table) that it was a refreshing change of course to read about a culture where THAT kind of behavior is abnormal. A culture unafraid to teach its children patience ("You must teach your children frustration" is a French parenting maxim that I whole-heartedly endorse). How little of that is happening in America these days. And, as a result, not only do we have a nation of ill-behaved kids, but one for which overstressed parents are paying the price.

I am so determined not to join that rat race style of parenting — and so this is a book I intend to come back and consult in the years to come.
135 reviews
July 5, 2012
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 American parenting books suggest. Here’s an example – her revelation about getting French babies to sleep through the night is “La Pause”, which is just to not respond as soon as your baby makes a noise. I haven’t read any books that suggest you do this and I don’t know any parents that do this. Either the author has a very small and odd set of friends which are coloring her perspective or she wrote this as an amusing work of fiction. The author supposedly quotes the well known book What to Expect as evidence of how neurotic American parenting books are except I read that book and did not recognize any of the ridiculous quotes. Maybe she has a copy from the 50s. She also talks about how the French methods of raising children are based in science and American ones aren’t, citing circadian rhythms as one example of this. I don’t know what parenting books she is reading, but they are not any of the mainstream ones that I have been reading because they are almost all written by doctors or at the very least, cite medical rationale for their assertions. I really can’t believe the author is a journalist. I could go on and on with examples of how poorly written and comically inaccurate this book is, but I have two babies and useful books to read, so I won’t waste my time.

I can’t believe this book is so popular. It leads me to believe that this woman’s publicist is a genius and that the readers who like this book are the same ones that like The Help, which includes the women who replace their entire wardrobes with Lululemon outfits as soon as they become moms.

What is most infuriating about this book is how many people say it’s a must read for new parents. I am a new parent, I don’t have time to waste on crap like this!

Addition: I think I blocked this from my memory because it was so ridiculous, but a recent conversation reminded me of it. Druckerman suggests that American parents are horrified by the idea of daycare and would do anything to avoid it, including quit their jobs. Those who use it do so reluctantly with fears their children will be molested or suffer permanent damage. She says in France, they are superior because they think of daycare as a way for kids to learn things and be socialized, unlike in the US. This is completely insane. Every single one of my friends with kids except one has their kids in daycare and they have all cited socialization as a main reason why they decided to send their kids to daycare. My one friend with a nanny even expressed doubt about her choice because she feared her kid wouldn't be socialized. Ugh.
Profile Image for İntellecta.
199 reviews1,536 followers
January 20, 2022
This book was recommended to me by a good friend.
Very funny written, entertaining and good read, but not as a typical guide.
Listen to your intuition and do not let the "counselors" influence you!
Profile Image for Kim G.
239 reviews42 followers
March 21, 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 neurotic NYC upper middle class mom bullsh*t. This book is a lot of memoir, and it's a lot of fantastically obnoxious memoir. And if you're not loaded, with a few fancy degrees, a thin frame (obsess much, Druckerman?) and a cute multilingual husband, this book does not give a sh*t about you. There's also very little data/history/useful information beyond the author's personal experiences. I like a good anecdote as much as the next person, but this isn't a good anecdote.

I think this book is intriguing to a lot of people because they all want to find the magical secret that will make their kids stop throwing their food on the floor, and maybe eat a vegetable now and again. The answer is exactly what you knew it to be all along, diligent and patient effort. No magic bullet here, folks, because if I had found it I may have put it through my brain about halfway through this book.
Profile Image for Steven Gaskin.
Author 3 books4 followers
February 17, 2012
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 increasingly wilful and reluctant to listen. I knew I was getting locked into cycles of behaviour that were frustrating us both, but the core ideas in this book - coupling respect for your child's freedom to experiment and learn, with absolute authority on key issues - are already helping.

Kindle Format: near-perfect, although the default font size was smaller than I'm used to.
Profile Image for Amanda.
40 reviews
March 14, 2012
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 & needs - and that the world doesn't revolve around your kids. No hovering, over analyzing, emphasis on "parenting style", constant praise, paranoia like American parents today do. One of my biggest peeves is having a conversation with a friend who's attention is about 50% - because the other 50% is talking to or entertaining their kid. French children are taught that being alone & entertaining yourself (even as toddlers) is expected. Their parents respect them enough to allow them to do so, and in return, they respect their parents' needs separate from them, too.
Profile Image for Michelle.
14 reviews
May 1, 2012
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 anecdotal in a not-helpful way and not data-driven. For example, she makes the broad statement that French children sleep through the night at age 2-3 months whereas American children don't even at age 1. Where is the data? Is this a fact, or is based on the people she randomly talked with, which is also subject to measurement error? Perhaps she has nationally representative data later on in the book, but if she does, then her writing is not rigorous enough to credit the data results when she relies on it in the intro.

I could not get past the soundbite nature of her writing. After the intro chapter, I start reading the first chapter, in which she seems to endlessly talk about her job layoff, how her relationship with her "swarthy" British boyfriend/husband started, and how they ended up living in Paris. First, she didn't even transition to explaining the role of this section of writing. Instead, the intro had ended and then she suddenly began this slow navel-gazing passage about her layoff and boyfriend/husband. I was confused about where she was going b/c I thought this was a book about parenting, not her job layoff and search for a boyfriend. Anyway, she came off as a self-absorbed writer who liked to hear herself talk.

Several people mentioned that this book was helpful in seeing that French mothers don't feel guilty about numerous aspects of their parenting the way American mothers do. My spouse pointed out that it's books like these that contribute to mother guilt here in America, books that say you're doing it wrong, do it this way. I thought that was an interesting observation.

So this book was not for me. I strongly disliked her style of writing, and I prefer parenting books by trained professionals on the topic and based on high quality academic research.
Profile Image for Майя Ставитская.
1,334 reviews132 followers
May 24, 2022
The book begins with the fact that during a family trip to France and stops for a snack in a cafe, their daughter Bean behaved exactly as usual in child-centered America: she ran around the hall, refused to eat unfamiliar dishes, picked at her plate and threw out pieces that seemed unappetizing to her (most of them), she threw napkins, threw tantrums and bargained dessert for vegetables. Agree, not the most comfortable environment. Not to mention the need to compensate with huge tips for the inconvenience caused by their presence in the institution.

French children in the same restaurants calmly waited for the order, ate everything they had on their plates, were polite to the staff, parents and other guests. Such a striking contrast could not help but make one wonder whether fatherhood and motherhood really should become hard labor or whether there are still ways to continue to get the usual joys from life, even after becoming parents. And if you think about it, start studying the French approach to raising children – they practically do not use the word "upbringing", and when they do, it is rather a synonym for "punishment".

So, let's start from the beginning: pregnancy and childbirth. There is no legitimized "special" state of gluttony, no: "The baby wants oysters (cakes, barbecue, substitute the right one)." Strict weight control throughout pregnancy. It is not considered shameful to directly tell the expectant mother that it is not worth eating so much and moving so little – it is not good for her or the child.

During childbirth in France, epidural anesthesia is used, which does not make this process pleasant, but allows you to eliminate the significant consequences of Eve's curse. With the discharge, a part of life begins, which causes a shudder in most of those who remember their parental first year - constant lack of sleep and that's all. So, French parents know a secret that allows them to teach a child to sleep at night by two months (less often by four). I will not retell it, it is connected with the phases of sleep, if it is relevant for you - just read it.

Какая культурная страна - даже дети, говорят там по-французски
Французы строги в том, что касается нескольких основных правил, и довольно либеральны во всем остальном. Это все та же система ограничений: жесткие рамки, но в их пределах – полная свобода.
Памела Друкерман американка, постоянно живет во Франции. Росла в Майами, где жизненный план «элегантно сочетал принятое там поклонение города телу и деньгам, при полном безразличии к тому, как вы добыли то и другое». Сделала отменную журналистскую карьеру много работала за границей, в основном в Латинской Америке - как специальный международный корреспондент Wall Street Journal.

Известна бестселлерами на мейнстримные темы «Измена в переводе. Неверность от Токио до Теннесси» – исследование отношения к адюльтеру в разных концах земного шара, и «Взрослых нет! Молодежь среднего возраста» остроумная книга о «шоке среднего возраста» в молодящемся мире. Но главным ее писательским успехом стали «Французские дети не плюются едой», о том, что делает французских детей такими воспитанными, а родителей свободными и счастливыми.

Попробуем разобраться. Начинается книга с того, что во время семейной поездки по Франции и остановок на перекус в кафе, их дочь Бин вела себя совершенно так, как привычно в детоцентристской Америке: бегала по залу, отказывалась есть незнакомые блюда, ковырялась в тарелке и выбрасывала из нее куски, которые казались ей неаппетитными (таких большинство), швыряла салфетки, закатывала истерики и выторговывала десерт за овощи. Согласитесь, не самая комфортная обстановка. Не говоря о необходимости компенсировать огромными чаевыми неудобства, причиненные их присутствием в заведении.

Французские дети в тех же ресторанчиках спокойно ждали заказа, ели все, что было у них на тарелках, были вежливы с обслугой, родителями и другими гостями. Столь разительный контраст не мог не заставить задуматься, а в самом ли деле отцовство и материнство должно стать каторгой или все-таки есть способы продолжать получать от жизни привычные радости, даже став родителями. А задумавшись, начать изучать подход французов к выращиванию детей – слова «воспитание» они практически не используют, а когда да, то это скорее синоним «наказания».

Итак, начнем с начала: беременность и роды. Никакого легитимизированного «особым» состоянием обжорства, никакого: «Малышу хочется устриц (пирожных, шашлыка, подставьте нужное)». Строгий контроль веса на всем протяжении беременности. Не считается зазорным прямо говорить будущей маме, что не стоит так много жрать и так мало двигаться – ни ей, ни ребенку это не на пользу.

На родах во Франции применяется эпидуральная анестезия, которая не то, чтобы делает этот процесс приятным, но позволяет снивелировать значительные последствия евиного проклятья. С выпиской начинается часть жизни, которая вызывает содрогание у большинства вспоминающих свой родительский первый год - постоянный недосып и вот это вот все. Так вот, французские родители знают секрет, который позволяет уже к двум месяцам (реже к четырем) научить ребенка спать по ночам. Не буду пересказывать, это связано с фазами сна, если для вас актуально - просто почитайте.

Определить ребенка в ясли во Франции возможно уже с полугодовалого возраста и нет, не система детомучительства, там в них работает квалифицированный персонал, все под жесточайшим контролем, очень доступно по цене (оплата в зависимости от доходов родителей), пять дней в неделю с восьми до шести. Я в целом поклонница Людмилы Петрановской с ее неприятием системы огосударствления детей. Но думаю, что имеет смысл помнить о разнице между странами. Детский ад Советского Союза и его преемницы вполне может оказаться детским райком в другой стране.

Пересказывать книгу бессмысленно, да и не получится, лучше читать. О вежливости и "больших глазах" воспитателя, о которых с ужасом вспоминают взрослые французы. О совместных трапезах и приготовлении еды, в котором дети принимают участие с самого раннего возраста - вы ведь не думали, что гурманство французов врожденное? О волшебном слове "подожди" и четких рамках, в очерченных которыми границах детям дозволяется почти абсолютная свобода.

В книге тысяча и один лайфхак приятного отцовства и материнства, если вы молодые родители или только готовитесь ими стать - от души рекомендую.

Profile Image for Jessica.
321 reviews30 followers
February 14, 2012
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 when the opportunity to read a book for pleasure this afternoon presented itself, I decided, why not?
Druckerman actually does an excellent job of ferreting out the parenting secrets of the middle class French; she explains in clear and effective language how most French parents offer their children an éducation in delayed gratification, culinary delights, and interpersonal relationships. I loved reading about how French parents rely on Rousseau and Françoise Dolto for their parenting mantras, offer consistency in their house rules, and insist their children try a wide variety of foods on a regular basis; as a matter of fact, I finished the book feeling as though our personal parenting approach was vaguely French and was charmingly reminded of rules we had faithfully followed when our older child was tiny but have allowed to go fallow, to some degree, with our younger one (that's changing as of now - merçi beaucoup, Ms. Druckerman!).
My big complaint with this book is that Pamela Druckerman creates a vision of American parenting that is absolutely abominable. Okay, sure - you, Pam, went off the deep end when you were pregnant and took all of those insane pregnancy and parenting guides seriously. You have an ongoing aversion to asserting yourself with your own children. Fine. There are plenty of American moms just like you, who can't bear to tell precious Ella "no" and who pretend that children are incapable of rational thought. But let's call a spade a spade here and admit that your problems are your problems! Just because you know someone in America who won't go to a restaurant or use a babysitter because little Johnny "won't let them," doesn't mean that we're all insane! When I was reading the reviews of this book on Amazon, someone was complaining that most of the reviews took the book to task on the basis of an interview people seemed to have heard/watched with the author, rather than the content of the book, and suggested people read the book before passing judgement. That makes sense to me, but if this interview of which many apparently speak portrays the author as smug, elitist, and somewhat pedestrian, well, you probably won't be able to stomach the actual book, either, because after I read it, I can tell you that I aspire never to meet Ms. Druckerman for coffee, in Paris or Park Slope. She seems like a truly neurotic and stereotypical American mother, and it makes me cringe a little to know that she's out there in Europe, representing the rest of us American moms without our knowledge or consent!
All my irritation aside, however, I highly recommend this book. It comes the closest to my own ideal parenting style (except for the approach to eating - definitely need to work on that) that I've seen in print, and I'll be happy to pass it on to any new moms I meet in the months and years to come! Enjoy your children - and your marriage. Parent like the French!!
Profile Image for Katie.
199 reviews3,706 followers
August 20, 2022
Loved!! A non-dry parenting book!? Obsessed. Channeling my inner French woman with this bebe!
Profile Image for Amy.
11 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2012
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' with how the French really raise their children but so what? If that's what she's depicted then it should be considered as a peek into the lives of upper-class Parisians. It doesn't make the information presented any less interesting or valuable. At any rate, I couldn't put this book down, and I have lots of take aways that I'll use in the future.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
638 reviews
May 2, 2012
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 journalistic skills to discovering what we American parents are doing across the Atlantic, instead of relying on what she sees wealthy parents doing in a park in New York City, or even worse, what she read in What to Expect When You're Expecting, she would have understood more of her American subject matter. We don't snatch up our infants at every tiny noise they make. We don't allow our four-year-olds to crawl under the table and bite our hostess during dinner. And I've never seen a parent slide down the slide with a child.

Putting your newborn in high-quality, government day care and then proceeding on with your regular life while taking over in the evenings and weekends raises a question--just who is raising this adorable child? And I can't pay much attention to this fabulous parenting advice when I'm watching your little French 4-year-old darling with a pacifier in her mouth!? I was eager for an explanation after seeing this numerous times in France and Belgium, but that problem was only mentioned in the glossary but never discussed. My experience with francophone children is that they can be as equally obnoxious and demanding as their anglophone counterparts, and the parents can be similarly anxious and exhausted. My favorite quotes heard frequently from French parents: "Arrete!" "Ferme la bouche!" and "Ca va pas la tete!" (Stop! Shut your mouth! Your head doesn't work!). I was disappointed that the author claimed that French parents only calmly said, "Wait" to their children. Well. I'm sure this book is a wild success in France, but I had to laugh at this book's praise on the back cover by the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and the author of French Women Don't Get Fat. And no quotes from American experts?

A fascinating read, but the parenting advice is nothing new, and definitely not uniquely French, except for those preschoolers' pacifiers.
Profile Image for Diem.
451 reviews136 followers
November 8, 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 debate.

If it is safe to assume that an American journalist married to a European journalist and living in Paris while writing her book on comparative cultural attitudes toward marital infidelity would lean to the left of the political center then you would not be surprised to find her writing a book that celebrates the parenting styles of the the French while eschewing those of Americans. So, what is surprising is the part where Druckerman takes to task the more "liberal" aspects of American attitudes toward child rearing and promotes what appears to be a more conservative paradigm.

What is also surprising is that for a book whose title and cover give the appearance of being a light hearted frolic through the streets of Paris this is actually a thoroughly researched book that covers a range of parenting topics from basic nutrition to Rousseau to "poop sausage". Which, frankly, is a progression that makes perfect sense to me.

I loved this book in spite of its many criticisms of what was my personal devotion to the Dr. Sears School of Attachment Parenting and in spite of its celebration of the working mother, a lifestyle of which I know nothing and a topic which I find to be complicated and uncomfortable to discuss. There is no mention of homeschooling.

I think I was so open to it not because I'm typically open to criticism but because Druckerman has a rare ability to criticize a thing without belittling it. This is not to say that she doesn't take sides or see superiority in one thing over another. She doesn't appear reasonable by remaining neutral. She just takes the ego and emotion out of her argument. It really is that simple if not that easy. I also appreciated that she made clear that when she talked of American and French methods of parenting she was referring to IDEALS and not always to the practical application of said ideals.

Even though I was an attachment parenting groupie when I had infants, I quickly dismissed the Sears approach to toddlers and older children. Without knowing it, I had adopted a French way of parenting with a heavy dose of German Luftwaffe commander. I agree that children require and desire clearly demarcated and enforced boundaries. I don't think kids should hit their parents (this is apparently not a hanging offense in the Druckerman home) and I do insist that "I get to decide" on the rules for my home. I do not believe in praising mediocre work of any kind and rarely gush over anything my children do. I don't think children have fragile egos that can be crushed that easily and am more concerned that false praise is no more than erecting a rickety scaffolding around their sense of self-worth. In that way and in many others, I agree with the French ideal of parenting.

But there are contradictions. While much is made of the French obsession with eating and serving the best quality and freshest food, they appear to see no issues with giving their infants one of the most processed foods known to man: infant formula. Over the years, I've softened my position on the need to breast feed but I don't think it serves the debate well to pretend that infant formula is a "whole food". The contradiction is not resolved because it really can't be.

The criticism of American nuttiness when it comes to overachievement and obsessive micro-parenting is important. Does it seem funny that a home school mom would be critical of "helicopter parents"? It might. But maybe not if you watched our day. My children tend to work independently. I give the lesson and walk away. I don't hover. I don't follow them at the park narrating their play. In fact, if they come over to my bench my reaction tends to be, depending upon my mood, mildly dismissive to openly hostile. Park time is for them to go play away from me and for me to sit and read without interruption. I agree with those in the book who think parents spend too much time organizing and interfering in their children's minute to minute existence while somehow remaining tremendously aloof from what their children are being taught in school.

And there are other contradictions and criticisms. You'll have to find them for yourself. You won't be sorry. It is truly as funny and engaging as it is thought provoking and you don't have to come out on one side or the other.

Profile Image for Louise.
947 reviews291 followers
February 24, 2012
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 cadre and within that, lots of freedom. It also tried to explain the differing philosophies of relating with children and how that affects raising children.

I like the idea of teaching children patience from a very young age. The French even claim to have their kids sleeping through the night when they're as young as four months old! That's unheard of here! It has convinced me that if I ever have children, I should send them to France until they're 6 years old.
Profile Image for Beth.
52 reviews5 followers
July 29, 2015
Let me first say, that I am not a parent. Nor do I intend to become a parent in the near future. I would like to have children within the next four or five years, but am in no rush within that time frame. So I know how odd it might seem for a non-parent to read a parenting book.

The reason I decided to read this book is based, in large part, on my own fear of parenthood. In a recent discussion with my mother she was horrified to learn that I had lived most of my life with a fear of having children. I had heard over and over that having a child meant the end of your life as you know it (and of course, to a degree that is true). This fear even carried over when one of my best friends announced she was pregnant. I had heard for years that having children meant you stopped being you, and started being a mother. You stopped having friends, because you didn't have time to do or be anything other than a mother. You lost the intimacy with your partner. You ceased to be an individual and became an ideal. And, if you decided to have a life away from your children you were selfish, you weren't living your life with your children as the center of your universe. Wave goodbye to sleep, you won't do it for a few years. Tantrums at any given time? Perfectly normal, no matter how embarrassing.

These ideas were supported by media which describe mothers who are tired, haggard, in ill-fitting and unattractive clothes and rats-nest hair, who deny their husbands intimacy, are unable to enjoy a meal with friends, and can't even shower or use the restroom uninterrupted. This is a terrifying, dreary picture for a young girl (though excellent birth control). And one my mother swears she never meant to paint. But nonetheless, as a woman now becoming interested in having a family, shaking off this picture of the American mother was hard. Would I be giving up everything I love and am to create a tiny human who would in turn make me miserable? American mommy-war parenting says yes. But Druckerman, who obviously grew up with a similar picture of motherhood, learned that the French said no. The French are, by and large, as horrified by this picture as I am.

And that is why I read this book, because of the comfort it gave me in realizing that I'm not alone in thinking the current state of mommy-martyrdom is insane and unhealthy. I read this book in three days, and came away from it with a sense of relief. I don't have to give up a strong relationship with my partner for the sake of my children, in fact it's quite the opposite. Your marriage should be a priority. As one French woman says "You can't choose your children, but you chose your husband."

I always felt the need to defend my personal ideas on parenting, after all I'm not a mother, so what could I know? But in a twist of validation I read that my ideas aren't so far fetched, that they are common practice in France. Don't cater to your child's every whim at dinner, expect them to eat what you eat? That's not barbaric (as some online mommy forums would say), it's much more healthy than allowing children to limit their palates (this is a fear of mine as my partner has become an adult with severely limited food tolerance based on a childhood of being fed separate "kids" food). Don't rush to them immediately during the night at the slightest whimper? Why, some American parenting experts call this abandonment and negligence. Carve out a space that is just for you and your partner, such as your bed? Certain "attachment parenting" guru's call this cruel, advocating for a baby that clings to you at all times.

This book was a wonderful, refreshing reassurance that it is totally possible to have a life where you are you , not only a mother. Where you are a spouse, a friend, and most importantly an individual. And by continuing to be exactly who you are, only adding another element to the mix that is uniquely you, your children won't be horrible screw-ups. In fact, they might even prefer it.
Profile Image for Patricia.
334 reviews43 followers
February 6, 2021
Ein Kollege hat mir schon vor einiger Zeit dieses Buch wärmstens empfohlen, es sei DER Erziehungsratgeber für werdende Eltern und er schwört auf die Erziehungstipps aus Paris.

Dem kann ich in einigen Punkten nicht zustimmen, denn eigentlich ist das kein Erziehungsratgeber, die Autorin berichtet in einer Mischung aus persönlichen Anekdoten und wissenschaftlichen Forschungsergebnissen davon, wie unterschiedlich Kindererziehung in Frankreich und Amerika gehandhabt wird. Wer sich aber tatsächliche Erziehungstipps erwartet, wird sie in diesem Roman nicht finden, es gibt zwar schon einige Punkte, in denen recht konkret beschrieben wird, wie französische Familien mit Erziehungsfragen umgehen, der Großteil bleibt aber vage.
Die meisten Ansätze sind auch nicht unbedingt neu (müssen sie auch nicht sein) oder besonders französisch. Eine große Ausnahme bildet da das Essverhalten, Kindern (ab einem gewissen Alter) wird scheinbar zu jeder Mahlzeit ein mehrgängiges Menü angeboten, es gibt kein besonderes Essen für Kinder, sie bekommen, was die Eltern essen, und müssen von allem probieren, bevor sie es ablehnen dürfen.
Andere Punkte wie "Nein heißt nein", "Ich habe das Sagen" und "Wenn ein Baby schreit, soll man es nicht sofort hochheben, sondern es zuerst beobachten, um herauszufinden, warum es schreit" sind Grundregeln zahlreicher Erziehungsansätze.

Obwohl das bis hierher vielleicht recht kritisch und negativ klang, bin ich ganz froh, das Buch gelesen zu haben und konnte durchaus einzelne Dinge mitnehmen. Ich glaube, dass es lohnenswert ist, sich über die angesprochenen Punkte Gedanken zu machen, sich zu überlegen, wie man wohl selbst in den einzelnen Situationen handeln würde. Kein Erziehungsratgeber sollte auf Punkt und Komma befolgt werden und so ist das auch hier. Die Autorin beschreibt Situationen, in denen sie Probleme hatte, und erzählt dann, wie französische und amerikanische Eltern damit umgeben würden. Obwohl mich im Grunde der französische Ansatz mehr anspricht, gibt es oft sicher einen Mittelweg zwischen den beiden Extremen.
Profile Image for Katie.
159 reviews4 followers
October 12, 2012
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 many a baby, and many a night, my babies never figured it out like her precious "Bean" did in 9 minutes. how annoying.

every chapter was just generalization after generalization - All french mothers do this and it works, and all american mothers do this and look how we hover.

The only take away that I have from this book is that only because we are parents doesn't mean that our lives have to be centered around our kids every second of every day. I already knew that. She says that French mothers are consistently "happier" than American parents. I could be cheery with my kids all the time too if they spent all day 5 days a week in day care. I could be perfectly patient and gorgeous for the remaining two hours of the day that they were awake.

that would be horrible, of course. I love staying at home with the kiddos and my kids don't have to be in daycare to be socialized. that is a horrible myth.

Profile Image for Emma Cameron.
42 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2013
Although this was an enjoyable read and was easy to follow I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with smug French women who rear these "perfect children" who sleep through the night, eat all vegetables and never whinge. Really? As I read on I realised that maybe their kids do do all these things but at what price? French women don't like to breastfeed, go back to work very quickly and expect the creche and nursery to bring up their children.

I found myself feeling very sorry for French chilren who seem to be starved of affection because the "cadre" says so. French women came across as being selfish, self-absorbed and narcissistic. The way they look and getting their bodies back (if they even lost them in the first place) seemed more important that caring for the babies that they gave life to. It was almost like they had given up nine months nuturing their babies in the womb and that was all they were prepared to give. Once they were out it was all about the mum's getting their "me time" back, going on holidays with their husbands without their children and instilling a modern day "Children should be seen and not heard" ethos.

Having said that I am not sure that the Anglo version of parenting can be described as perfect. We certainly seem to bring up spoilt, over stimulated and bad mannered children. I think if we could combine the best bits of both cultures we might have cracked it.
Profile Image for Rose.
6 reviews2 followers
May 21, 2013
(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 'Almost French' (another book I read), I'm Far-From-French. Which could be problematic as my child (now born) IS French and will soon be part of the French child-care and education system. It was this aspect of the book - well, the book's subject, French culture, in fairness to the author - which got me worried. I applaud the French for supporting women in being ABLE to return to work thanks to their great childcare options, but the expectation that they SHOULD, and so soon (2 months is common) just doesn't sit well with me. A lot of what the author observed was a system of child-raising designed to suit the parents and create obedient, quiet children.

Were these observations really typical of France though, or just rich Parisians? The author's neighbourhood, profession and contacts gave her a circle of friends and esp acquaintances from the upper class (if we're allowed to say that about supposedly egalitarian France?). These women were largely career-oriented professionals who were in that class of 'super mum' - the result of feminism selling out to a macho society?- where they are now expected to be successful professionals, bien-sur! as well as fulfilling the male expectations of their roles as responsible mothers and sexy wives. (In a sidenote about relationships in France and elsewhere, I'd be interested to read the author's other book about how Fidelity/Cheating is viewed in different countries).

There were a lot of positive points too (those that either I or the author found positive). There were all those good bits about French parenting like recognising but allowing children to make 'betises' (little naughty acts that don't warrant an over-reaction), encouraging children to develop a broad appreciation for different foods and the parents not giving up ALL of their selves/time to their children (though I do note, somewhat uneasily, that in French films where adults are the main characters, we may not realise at all that they are parents, or if we learn this, the children are rarely even SEEN, let alone have any part in the story).
The French are rightly amazed at what spoilt brats some countries manage to raise (though the use of the French labelling of all English speakers as Anglo-Saxon as assuming we are the same is rather frustrating).

I found the author and I were equally surprised at some French attitudes / practices but that she has come to embrace many of them. I wonder how I will view this book, and French parenting, in a few years' time -esp as my husband is French (and thus, his family here) which could bring some expectations for ways of doing things different from what I'm used to (as a Kiwi).

The book's author is a journalist / professional writer and as such has researched a lot of interesting tidbits of information for us as well as sharing her own experiences. I did enjoy READING this book due to its light and personable style; it was the image of a somewhat cold and selfish view of parenting that I wasn't too happy to learn about!
Profile Image for Ben.
202 reviews38 followers
July 13, 2013
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 children in Paris - and trying to understand the sometimes startling cultural differences she saw.

This book had everything that I want in an exploration of this kind of topic, and none of what I hate. To wit, although extremely impressed with Parisian child-rearing, she does not present it as some kind of exoticized wisdom of the ancients; she begins with concrete observations (Parisian infants sleep through the night by two to three months, Parisian toddlers are not picky eaters), does a good job of not appearing to be drawing from one or two rose-colored cases, and then explores how this happens through history, social framework, and a series of reported interviews. The result is that, as a reader, you feel you are stepping through the investigation and are empowered to judge for yourself. Finally, she doesn't present all this information clinically. Rather, she portrays it personally, in the light of her own child-raising efforts (all in Paris), and the challenges she faces. The result is a sort of focused, informative travelogue of Paris - a parentlog, if you will.

Technically speaking, I read this a little late - if you actually want your newborn to sleep through the night, you're supposed to use the French mojo before three months. Regardless, what I appreciated so much about this book is that it held up an alternate paradigm to consider. And the book doesn't sell it as an all-or-nothing deal. In fact, "all" is probably an impossibility without the ensconcement of French culture and its excellent childcare benefits. Reading the book felt like intensely good reflecting material for being mindful and aware of what is good and what can be, for choosing my own parenting path.

I understand that some people have taken exception to the book - but I found that, taking it as a reference point and not a "thou must" codex, Bringing Up Bebe really counts as required reading for any new or would-be parent.
Profile Image for Петър Стойков.
Author 2 books268 followers
April 5, 2019
Детска площадка. Малки деца тичат и крещят сякаш някой ги кoли. Трътлеста майка с развлечени дрехи седи на пейката и вика Не! Недей! Чуваш ли! На тебе говоря! но никой не я слуша и тя се отказва с примирена въздишка. След малко едното от децата идва при нея и тя веднага вади пакет бисквити и сокче в кутийка и почва да му пъха в устата, редувайки двете. До нея седи друга майка, но естествено, двете не могат да си кажат и две думи, защото една през друга крещят на отрочетата си и една по една стават да ги вдигат от земята и да прекратяват спорове за играчки.

Звучи познато? За много от нас звучи печално познато, независимо дали само сме наблюдавали отстрани или самите ние търчим с бисквити в едната ръка и чанта играчки в другата. Звучи познато и на американската авторка на книгата, защото всички около нея отглеждат децата си точно по тоя начин. Докато не отива във Франция.

Сега, не знам доколко французите са толкова добри в отглеждането на децата си като възпитани, нормални човечета, колкото ги описва Памела Дръкърман, но доколкото това е само една от няколкото книги за "френския начин на отглеждане на деца" на които попаднах, явно има нещо там.

Определено на българските майки са им спестени някои от тревогите на американките, като например записването на 4 годишните им деца в елитна предучилищна подготовка за по 30 000 долара на година с три езика, йога и тенис, защото всички така правят (поне в големите, либерални градове на горната средна класа, отдето идва авторката). Но голяма част от тях могат, според скромното ми неженено мнение, да се възползват от голяма част от съветите в книгата за това как да имаш деца без това да наложи да загърбиш целия си живот, личност и семейство.

Да, френските деца спят без да се будят през нощта от тримесечна възраст, ядат всичко без капризи, казват бонжур при среща, не са дебели (както много българчета вече са, и то от детската градина вече), а майките им успяват да имат социален и семеен живот, който не е подчинен на грижата за децата.

"Паузата", "Големите очи", "Разнообразното захранване" и други съвсем логични и прости принципи, които са доста близо до това, което са използвали някои от майките ни, очевидно правят голямата разлика, но и цялостната нагласа към живота, която, поне според видяното от авторката, имат френските бащи и майки, спомагат не само за щастлив семеен живот, но и за възпитани, будни, любознателни и спокойни деца - нещо, което не виждам особено много, като се огледам.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews29 followers
June 4, 2012

I have adult children. Its easy to look back 'now' and say...."I wish I would have had been less focused on my kids---- taken education 'less' serious, taken their hobbies-(dance, theater, swim classes, Hebrew School, ice skating, voice lessons, piano lessons, private schools, etc. all a little less serious) ---and gone on more family-fun-vacations. I wish I had not been in such a rush to DO IT RIGHT! (because I didn't do it right anyway).
Yeah...we all recovered. I'm married to a wonderful man. (33 years). Our daughters are healthy and happy today. (26 yrs. & 30 yrs. old) ---but we could have saved ourselves from the fast pace of the kids-stressful busy life. (and maybe relaxed a little more ---been bored a little more ---be silly a little more --SLOW DOWN).
I did NOT believe (or understand) as a young mother what the value was of *doing nothing*! I was out to teach my daughters 'everything'. (they were good at everything). ----but at what price????

THIS book: "Bringing UP Bebe" is not only charming --funny-- but genuinely insightful --authentic --and important. (no joking matter).

Ask mothers with 'adult' kids if this book is not SPOT ON....

Its the young mom's who are TOO excited --- TOO concerned about school, sports, performance, and other 'results'.

The BEST parents love THEIR 'own' life. They are happy with things THEY are doing!
BEST message of the book: DO NOT make your child's life WAY more important (out of balance) than your own).
The best way to raise a very depressed child is to give them everything they want.

These are the TOP three books I HIGHLY suggest ALL new parents read: (and re-read)

1) NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

2) The Pathway, the road to Health and Happiness by Laurel Mellin (Laurel was invited on the Oprah show)


3) Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman (good book!)
Profile Image for Stevie.
102 reviews
July 12, 2013
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 French parents- perhaps that's because people where I live have more children than average and cannot afford the time or money required to helicopter parent each child the way she described. While my children are far from perfect, we have rarely had any problems taking them to restaurants or any other public place. They eat leeks (although I'm not cool enough the braise them) instead chicken nuggets. The difference has less to do with national cultures and more to do with personal cultures.

In the end, I got bored and quit reading half way through. It's not an awful book . . . just somewhat pointless. I would much rather have read a memoir about being a parent in Paris rather than a parenting "instructive" book on the same.

Positive Takeaways- It's possible French parents feel less guilt because they have a more standard parenting method compared to American's buffet of child experts- who usually contradict one another.
Pausing when you child cries can be very beneficial if that time is used to observe the reasons and current needs of the child. There, saved you the time reading this book :-)
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