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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Emily - Audible on 04-15-12
I started listening to Bringing Up Bébé the very same day it came out. Having a “bébé” of my own who is rapidly morphing into a destructive whirl of Tasmanian Devil-style energy, I was immediately sucked in by the title of the opening chapter of Pamela Druckerman’s book: “French Children Don’t Throw Food.” Oh really… I’m listening.
I’m not sure that there’s any one big Holy Grail of child-rearing here but this book proved to be charming, funny, and VERY informative, and I’ve found it’s been helpful in guiding my thinking about what kinds of values I want to try to instill in my child. Some of these have been surprising. For instance, Druckerman writes that in American households we force “please” and “thank you” down our kids’ throats - convinced that if they can master these two critical mantras of etiquette then they will be society ready. In France they teach this too, but there are two other, even more critical, words: “hello” and “goodbye”. French children don’t slink into the room or run to the TV when their parents' friends are visiting. They look the adult in the eye and say “hello”. The reverse plays out when the visitor leaves. French parents feel that this confers respect – that doing this forces their children to acknowledge the humanity of another person. Listening to this while driving to work I found myself practically fist-pumping. “Yes! I want my daughter to acknowledge the humanity of other people too!” She goes on to point out that much of the hostility that American tourists experience from the French originates from the fact that we don’t say “bonjour” upon getting in a cab or entering a restaurant. Who knew?
Overall this was a truly enlightening listen, filled with lots of inspiring little tidbits like this. Druckerman is funny and relatable and Abby Craden as the narrator was perfection. I was actually surprised it wasn’t the author reading it because her delivery is so natural and she sounds so connected to the material.
57 of 59 people found this review helpful
By Jessie on 03-10-12
Great Read! Review From First Time Mom
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
This book made me laugh. My daughter is 11 months old and I read most of it while juggleing her from place to place. Well written and funny. I gave it to my sisters.
What did you like best about this story?
The writer is honest and also adds in a lot of facts about France- I learned a lot along my audio journey.
What insight do you think you’ll apply from Bringing Up Bebe?
To moms: trust yourself. You know more than both you and the oober mommy culture think you do.
Any additional comments?
This is the first book on parenting I've enjoyed reading... Come to think of it, it's the first book on parenting I've actually managed to finish. This book made me feel both hopeful and amused.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sara on 03-16-12
Maman knows best
I am a mother of a toddler, and as such have read a few books and articles about how I should be doing my job. I first read an article about Druckerman which led me to download the whole book. It's written by an American talking about French parenting, and as an English mother, I found it really interesting to be able to read it from a third perspective and have no personal issues with either style of parenting. I can imagine that some people may be defensive of either culture's ways, but I was pleased to simply listen to the evidence and take what I think is useful and relevant from it.
Regarding evidence, Druckerman has done a lot of research, I was concerned this would just be an anecdotal opinion piece, and was pleased to find that there was actually a lot of scientific and historical research quoted to back up the observations she was making.
Overall I thought this was a really interesting book, with some definite - if not sometimes obvious and common sense - methods which could be put into practise. But as I've found so far in parenthood - indeed in life, sometimes you do need the obvious to be stated in order to simply recognise and consciously decide to act on it. However I do agree with the previous reviewer, the narrator's French accent is terrible sometimes, and I accept the fact that not everyone can do accents, but perhaps they should have found a fluent French speaker to read the book, as there are quite a lot of French phrases used throughout and it did rather undermine what was being said.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Jordanna on 02-29-12
Would be great if it wasn't for the fake accent
Its an interesting book that has definitely given me a lot to think about. However I felt it was let down by the INCREDIBLY irritating, horrific french accent that the narrator puts on when she wants to quote a french person. I've had to take a break from listening to it simply because of that.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Amazon Customer on 10-13-17
Easy parenting tips to digest
Was quite entertaining and very byte sized for us to listen to in the car. Great book and not bad audio!
By m.m on 08-03-17
Fun and enlightening
I enjoyed the story, i am not sure how much i can actually follow french strategies even though they sound reasonable. The book doesn't give you exact guidelines and strategies on how to apply french parenting tools but as you move from chapter to chapter you get the general idea since the writer is not an expert but only transferring to you her personal experience, well the book is not boring as most parenting books to me, i consider this a bounce!