French Lessons

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Forget the Tiger Mom phenomenon. All over the internet now is Pamela Druckerman’s new book, Bringing Up Bebe, which asserts that French parents do a better job of raising children than their American counterparts.

Druckerman is an American who lives in Paris with her British husband and three children — in the book, she regales readers with examples of her own American “hyper-parenting” and asks why we Americans seem to be enslaved to our kids.

“Why was it, for example, that in the hundreds of hours I’d clocked at French playgrounds, I’d never seen a child (except my own) throw a temper tantrum? Why didn’t my French friends ever need to rush off the phone because their kids were demanding something? Why hadn’t their living rooms been taken over by teepees and toy kitchens, the way ours had?” she asks in story adapted from the book for WSJ Online.

Yesterday’s NYTimes review was lukewarm — “Much of the so-called French child rearing wisdom compiled here is obvious,” wrote reviewer Susannah Meadows. Really? I’ve seen too much of what Druckerman describes in my own home and around Baltimore (yes, I mean you, dad at Miss Shirley’s whose toddler kept coming up to our table) to not give it some consideration. Could we learn something from the French?



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