This is my very first post on parenting books and I am going to talk about my top favourites. There are 3 books here, written by Pamela Druckerman, an American reporter who has married an English man and moved to Paris. She raised her children in Paris and learned from the French their way of parenting.
I picked up “French Children Don’t Throw Food” a couple of years ago and was impressed by the author’s wise and rational parenting ideas. When I was on bed rest last year, I borrowed “Bringing Up Bebe” from the library and had a recap of the tips, many of which I still concur with after a few years since my first reading. In both books, the author wrote about her journey on discovering how the French manage to bring up their children in a calm environment, and at the same time instil discipline and independence in them.
Before Christmas, I bought the third book “French Parents Don’t Give In” which is essentially a summary of the earlier mentioned books, without the author’s back-story and works more like a manual.
I have been recommending the books to many of my friends and relatives. Now that I have my blog, these are naturally the first recommendations that I would make.
Tips from the books
A few pointers from Pamela that I would like to share here:-
Practice delayed gratification
This concept is repeated throughout the book from babyhood to toddlerhood. For instance, don’t instantly jump up when a newborn cries at night. Babies are noisy sleepers and they have their sleep cycle. Picking up your baby may wake him/her up instead. Wait for a few minutes and see if he/she falls into the next sleep cycle. If it doesn’t work, check whether the baby’s swaddle has come loose or he has a soiled diaper. Never feed a baby immediately if you want to train your baby to gradually sleep through the night. Rushing to the baby may not help him develop the skill of falling asleep by himself.
Similarly, French parents train their toddlers to wait. Instant gratification does no good to the child at all as he would not know how to distract himself and exert control over his behaviour. Coping with boredom and frustration is a life skill that everyone needs to pick up. Do not let your child interrupt you while you have a call or when there is a visitor at home. These behaviours take the time to teach and French parents (in general) have the patience to that.
Children are naturally picky eaters, but the French parents get them to eat the same food with the rest of the family members. The French does not regard nuggets and french fries as a proper meal.
They are given vegetables from young but are not expected to finish all that is given to them. They can have a bite and eat up the rest of the food they like. This is repeatedly done every day until they get used to the food served to them.
Building their independence
Let them take some risk, calculated ones of course. French parents do not make a fuss when their children trip in the playground.
Sibling rivalry is common everywhere, but French parents avoid becoming the referee for all fights. They will ask the children for a solution.
They don’t push their children to read and write before 6, but they expect them to speak well.
The French do not over-praise their children so that the children will not lose their motivation to do certain things when their parents are not around. Over-praising a child may also lead to the desire for praise and aversion of risk, causing the child to be afraid of trying something new for fear of failing.
Mummies need to have a life too
French mothers know that their babies do not replace their husbands.
They keep in shape and look good.
They go to work or have their personal time for self-care or self-development.
I personally prefer “Bringing up Be-Be” as this book is about the author’s personal journey and it gives sufficient time to explain how each concept works. But I also like “French Parents Don’t Give In” which brings out the concise ideas that I can constantly refer to quickly, especially since I will be going through babyhood all over again. I need reminders to give sufficient attention to my husband while managing a family with 4 kids and set aside some time for myself too.