or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Why French Parents Are Superior...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Why French Parents Are Superior...

post #1 of 74
Thread Starter 

While Americans fret over modern parenthood, the French are raising happy, well-behaved children without all the anxiety.  Pamela Druckerman on the Gallic secrets for avoiding tantrums, teaching patience and saying 'non' with authority. 

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204740904577196931457473816.html

 

 

Well, what do you think? 

post #2 of 74

C'est vrai!

 

 

post #3 of 74

I'm a lot closer to France than America, but this is a very rosy, highly stereotyped view of French parents. 

 

Yes, european kids generally have to wait more (no instant gratification) so eating out may be easier. Plus, eating out for the kids may be a luxury in and of itself. When at home, we eat out 5 times a year, it just isn't done. So eating out will be entertaining for kids that rarely do this. 

 

Not interrupting, waiting your turn, sharing, very social attributes are stressed here, at home and school, way more so than educational subjects. Also looking at the long term picture, instead of the 5 second sound bite. But when I get together with other americans, we revert back to old bad habits - we get loud and interrupt each other, we hold multiple conversations at once, we want a quick bite rather than a leisurely meal.... So if parents are not very patient, how can they teach their kids to be patient? 

 

I think she is saying the French are raising more free-range-kids. And that perhaps they have more limits and consequences, that no means no, not try me.

I don't like that she advocates CIO. 

post #4 of 74

I think some aspects of the article ring true and seem like a good idea: the idea of thinking of "discipline" as an education process, the idea of teaching delayed gratification, etc.  However, I also dislike advocating CIO.  From what I've heard (from a friend who's sister lives in France, so obviously not a good, broad representation of French society as a whole necessarily) is that CIO is the norm, and breastfeeding for 6 mos is considered "extended breastfeeding".  The specific story I was told recently was that her sister's friend had brought their baby daughter home from the hospital and she was put in the basement to sleep so that her parents couldn't hear her crying.  That made me want to cry.

post #5 of 74
Thread Starter 

To be fair, she doesn't describe CIO, at least not my understanding of it.

Quote:
Their parents don't pick them up the second they start crying, allowing the babies to learn how to fall back asleep.

 

That's not the same as allowing a pre verbal baby to cry for a long time. How long is a long time? I don't know, but when I read the above I pictured a mom letting baby cry for a minute, maybe two, to see if sleep would naturally return.  Problem is, that NEVER worked with either of my babies.  Maybe I didn't wait long enough, but after 30 seconds of crying I couldn't see how the baby would be going back to sleep. 

 

Though I take your friend's sister's word for it, that French parents tend to CIO.

 

 

Anyway!

 

 

post #6 of 74

I think she'll be on every morning show and talk show and sell a gazillion copies of her book because she came up with a clever hook that creates controversy and at the same time preys on parents insecurities. 

post #7 of 74

When we were in France, we did not see one child behaving badly in restaurants, parks or museums.  Not one.

 

Oh, wait, I should clarify that.  We never saw a single child behaving badly that was European.  The parents were speaking to (not yelling at) their children in French (we also heard German, Dutch and Danish).

 

The only badly behaved kids we saw were being yelled at in English (American, not British) and were not being kept under control.  We saw American children at the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay and other museums ignoring rules (because their parents weren't paying attention to them, other than to yell) and fussing at restaurants ("I don't like this junk, I wanna go to MacDonald's!!).     

 

This is a broad view of things, but I think European children ARE more polite.  When we saw how the French were around their children, we knew that that was how we were going to raise any children we had (we were on our honeymoon and then on an anniversary trip).  Except for the cio (which, remember, AMERICAN society advocates, as well, so don't go dumping on other cultures because of that thought), we have done that and are pleased with how it has worked.     

 

As AllisonR says, "Not interrupting, waiting your turn, sharing, very social attributes are stressed here, at home and school, way more so than educational subjects. Also looking at the long term picture, instead of the 5 second sound bite."

 

European parents are more about actual parenting, I think, than about trying to be their child's friend and not setting limits.

 

 

post #8 of 74

Oh great, one more thing to me I'm a shyt parent.

post #9 of 74

I didn't read it all, I started zoning out when she talked about making a 2-3 monther "wait" and how the French didn't snack. Er. Ok. The French can be superior parents, and I can be me :)

post #10 of 74

I've just read a few more articles concerning this.  Since most of us are attached parents... it's obvious that french mothers are detached.  And that's fine.  If it makes them superior, sure.  Have at at it.  As a kid you could take me anywhere.  Out in public I was perfect.  If I wasn't... doom awaited me at home.  Appearances were very important.  I'd love to look into a perfect french mothers home and I'd be waiting to see a hungry child not being a tad bit testy.  eyesroll.gif

post #11 of 74
Well, at least French parents don't circumcise! That alone gets a good mark from me.
post #12 of 74

Asking for respect from children and making them wait sometimes is detached parenting? That attitude gives attachment parenting a bad name.

 

I love this article for the great ideas it gave for teaching delayed gratification. This is such an important, undervalued skill. Our suppertime is chaotic because I am worried the kids are going to get too hungry before I can get supper on the table. I let them eat their candy right away. We open packages to eat in the store while shopping. I let the kids interrupt me all the time.

 

I'm not going to make my baby wait for comfort but my older kids could definetly use some delayed gratification skill-building.

 

The author specifically states that the French aren't perfect (of course!) so why not have an open mind, leave behind the defensiveness and realize there are benefits to some of their methods?

 

 

post #13 of 74

It sounds like she was comparing French parents who expect their kids to behave to American parents who don't.  That really isn't a fair comparision.  I think her findings would be much different if she made sure she was comparing parents with similar expectations.  I rarely see kids having tantrums, running away from parents, or being allowed to interrupt their parents where I live either because parents gently or not so gently teach them that these things aren't appropriate.  It sounds like the author was just a parent who didn't know how to gently reinforce her expectations until someone taught her the trick about tone and expecting your child to listen to you.  That really isn't a skill limited to European countries.

post #14 of 74

I wasn't that impressed with that article, for several reasons.

 

1) She stereotypes too much. I'm sure that, culturally, there are differences between the way most Americans parent and the ways most French people parent. But, this kind of article is short, and inherently limited. She made it sound like every single French parent does things the exact same (superior) way, and every single American parent does things the exact same (inferior) way. It's nonsensical.

 

2) The stuff about going to the fridge just annoyed me. There's nothing inherently wrong with children getting themselves food from the fridge! My kids have to ask before they eat anything from the fridge (we have a few things in the house that are "eat them if you want them"...mostly fruit), but that's mostly because of...inventory control, I guess. I don't want them having cheese, when I have just enough for the quesadillas I was going to make, yk? But, I don't think it's a problem, just on principle, if a chlid goes to the fridge and grabs a yogurt or a carrot or whatever.

 

3) I felt the same way about the mealtimes thing. I'm actually too accommodating, imo - comes from having been a "picky eater" myself and having to eat way too many meals that I didn't want to eat. My mom wasn't super pushy about it, but she still made a lot of meals I didn't like (my parents ate a lot of "meat and potatoes" meals, and I hated mashed potatoes, and also can't stand most meat fat - like it makes me feel nauseated), so I didn't get to anything I really enjoyed at dinner much. For some people, that doesn't seem to be a big deal - dh will eat things he doesn't much like, and it doesn't bother him. For me, it was really rough. So, I have trouble navigating this one with my kids. But, even taking that into consideration, I really can't see how "they only eat three meals a day, with one afternoon snack" translates into "they're better parents". It just doesn't compute for me.

 

4) The author drives me nuts! I know a couple parents like her (one AP, one not) in that they have this belief that they "can't" do this or that with their kids. It seems to have been a major epiphany for her that she actually has some control over the situation, and has some authority. That just boggles me. Yeah - there are times when I'm too tired to parent properly. DS2 has been frustrating, exhausting, and immensely humbling. But, the only times I couldn't parent were when I couldn't parent (ie. first few days post-op after the c-sections, etc.). I'm glad she figured out that children running all over their parents isn't the natural order of things, but...wow...

 

5) My biggest issue is the "superior" thing. From what she describes, the general parenting approach in France has some real benefits. But, that doesn't mean it's "superior". It means it's different. Take what works for you and leave it at that.

 

Oh - and there was no talk whatsoever about what kind of adults this produces. I think attempting any kind of parenting comparison, based on the behaviour of the children, is nuts. I've met well behaved kids who were being emotionally and/or physically abused into good behaviour. I've met liltle "hellions" who grew up to be really quite lovely young men and women (thinking about a lot of ds1's friends and classmates, many of whom I've known since kindergarten, or even before, and who are now in college, university, the work force, etc.). I don't think "that child sits quietly in a restaurant" and "that child listens immediately when mom says something" tell us all that much.

post #15 of 74

Oh - I also have to say that I have my doubts about the "building" of the ability to delay gratification. DS1 was gifted at it. I've honestly never met a child who was as innately able to wait as he was (not just mama pride, either - I had several people comment on it when he was little). DD1 is kind of average. DS2 has no ability to delay gratification. None. If he asks for a glass of water, and I'm juggling three things at the stove, or have my hands in the sink, and say "yes - just a second", he'll have a meltdown. "Wait" and "no" seem to process in his brain in exactly the same way. And, dh is the same way. Sure - he was "taught" to delay gratification. So, he knows how to wait, but he still sucks at it, still becomes unbearable in some ways, and just has no patience. His dad is the same way.

 

I've heard about the big marshmallow experiment in delayed gratification before. I even think it's got a lot of validity...but I've never seen anything in it that proves that the kids who wanted immediate gratification could have been taught not to, or that such teaching would have had a significant impact on their futures. It just seemed to be taken for granted that it's a skill that can be taught. If I have a long wait at a restaurant, I just wait - it's not a big deal to me, and never was. If dh has a long wait at a restaurant, he'll "just wait"...and fidget, and complain about the service every two minutes, and announce that we're never coming here again, and...so on. Sure - he can wait, but the personality traits that made him the immediate gratification type as a child are still there, and they do still affect the way he interacts with the world. And, he's not really any more patient than he used to be - he's just learned how to hide it.

 

Yes - kids need to learn to wait, and need to understand that things take time. But, I don't think they can genuinely learn the "skill" of delayed gratification from that.

post #16 of 74

Well I am a perfect parent and have gleaned the best from all cultures to have perfect children.

 

Hold your applause and, thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROTFLMAO.giflol.gifSheepish.gifduck.gif

post #17 of 74

I'll be here all week!

post #18 of 74

clap.gif

 

HA!  Nice YF!  Being the better parent is important. 

post #19 of 74

Did you read all the articles or just this one?  I don't think french mothers are terrible.  They were described in some of the articles as more detached...  And no that doesn't make them "Detached" parents.  It just means they don't coddle.  If it works for them great.  I'm wondering though, how do they get their toddlers not to tantrum?  Maybe I should get the book. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dandelionkid View Post

Asking for respect from children and making them wait sometimes is detached parenting? That attitude gives attachment parenting a bad name.

 

I love this article for the great ideas it gave for teaching delayed gratification. This is such an important, undervalued skill. Our suppertime is chaotic because I am worried the kids are going to get too hungry before I can get supper on the table. I let them eat their candy right away. We open packages to eat in the store while shopping. I let the kids interrupt me all the time.

 

I'm not going to make my baby wait for comfort but my older kids could definetly use some delayed gratification skill-building.

 

The author specifically states that the French aren't perfect (of course!) so why not have an open mind, leave behind the defensiveness and realize there are benefits to some of their methods?

 

 



 

post #20 of 74

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/familyadvice/9011303/French-mothers-dont-have-it-all-their-own-way.html

 

 

 

Meh, what ever works.  What's next?  First the Chinese now French?  I bet the Finnish are next!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Parenting
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Why French Parents Are Superior...