I picked out Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman thinking it was a humourous look at parenting. It turns out it’s a parenting book with some humour mixed in. While it was not necessarily what I expected, it was just what I needed.
Druckerman examines the differences in between French and American child-rearing. Having heeded the French habit of doing, what the author terms “la pause,” (observing the baby for a period of 5 minutes before responding to them, a technique which is so innate to the French that they do not have a term for it) would have (at least in my feeding-the-baby-in-the-middle-of-the-night logic) likely resulted in much more regularity in “faire les nuits” (“doing their nights” or sleeping through the night). Alas, this technique has to firmly put in place in the first three months in order to be effective (apparently, most babies in France sleep through the night by 2-3 months. Oh, and they also only feed 4 times a day. If there was a section about babies never having blow-outs in public, I would have just picked up and moved to France).
Fortunately, there are a good number of tips and tricks that can be employed over the years, such as advice on how to deal with improper behaviour (viewed as éducation as opposed to disclipline), feed children vegetables, and most importantly, how to find the right balance between being “femme” and “maman”.
I will not say that French way of child-rearing is the be-all-end-all. In fact, many downfalls are noted, such as the pressure a mother feels to have returned to her pre-pregnancy weight within 3 months of birth (coincidentally, at the same time she would likely return to work), or the fact that breastfeeding beyond the first few weeks is rare.
But what resonated with me the most was the fact that there are so few parenting resources used by French mothers. As a chronic over-researcher, finding out that mothers don’t follow their child’s development in weekly email digests from conception to graduation and yet still raise competent members of society let me breathe a little easier. Sure, the society seems to follow very similar rules that we, as North Americans, don’t seem privy to, but these rules seem so innate and commonsense that perhaps we’re just drowning them out with research.
Book: Bringing Up Bébé
Author: Pamela Druckerman
Features: A quick(er) reference at the end which summarizes the book without anecdotal or scientific support called “Bébé Day By Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting,” perfect for the poor parent who has to deal with phrases like “That’s not how the French would do it” from the parent that read the book.
Who should read: Everyone wanting to be a parent