Title: Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
Author: Pamela Druckerman
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: February 2012
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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. With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman 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.
Bringing Up Bébé was recommended to me by a colleague and I’m so grateful for that recommendation! I thoroughly enjoyed this unique perspective on parenting that compares French parenting to American-style parenting. I found that many of the techniques explored in this book are techniques I’ve encountered in other books, such as Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. I appreciated this reinforcement as it highlights the idea of establishing and keeping baby on a schedule, assuming that a baby has some basic knowledge already and treating the baby respectfully as a small human and not a totally helpless being, and establishing a system of mutual respect that focuses on moderating give and take in a respectful manner. Although our little reader hasn’t arrived yet, all of these concepts struck a chord with me. While I can’t say for certain what life will be like with our new crew member, I can say that I hope to uphold a system of respect, understanding, and structure where we can find it, within our home.
What I liked about this guide was that it was both relatable and instructive. It’s divided into two parts. The first two thirds of the book are written in a very personable style as Druckerman details her experiences as a mother in France. She outlines not only her experiences with her children, but also her relationship with her husband, with other moms, and with the instructors in her children’s lives. The techniques she writes about are mostly observed over years of living within France. Her knowledge is empirical as she watches, adopts for herself, and draws conclusions based on her own experiences.
The final third of the book is more of a summary of sorts. It takes the knowledge observed and accumulated in Druckerman’s personal account and it summarizes it into little informative soundbites. Especially now that the reader is familiar with Druckerman’s concepts, these brief instructions can be treated more as a reference, for simplicity and ease of use. It was a great addition to helping to solidify the ideas presented earlier in the book, and it’ll be great to pick up later as a quick guide when things get hairy.
I don’t think I’ll be reading any other publishing parenting books for the moment. Our little reader is due to arrive so soon, so now is the time to focus on welcoming our new being. But I’m glad to have a couple of books under my belt as a foundation. I am always open to suggestions, so if you have any recommendations that saved your life as a parent, let me know!