As I mentioned in a previous post, I have recently been reading Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. This has been on my “to read” list for a while, and a few weeks ago I downloaded a kindle Sample of the book, which I enjoyed just as much as I expected. Although I love to read I always feel a little guilty buying new books. I already have close to 100 unread books on my kindle (most were downloaded for free or just $1-2). There is also the wonderful resource of the library where I can get books to read without spending any money on them. I looked first to see if they library had this book for the Kindle, which they didn’t. I then almost bought it, but decided instead to borrow the actual hard copy of the book one week after Lewis and I went to story time. (What a crazy idea. Reading a book in actual book form!)
I started writing this once already but stopped when it became clear that I was on the track towards writing a 20 page essay detailing all my thoughts on this book. No body wants to read that much blabbering. (Seriously. I wrote 4 longish paragraphs all about one chapter of the book. Imagine if I wrote that much about every chapter??) I’ll just say that wow – this book really struck a chord with me and got my thoughts going.
I enjoyed this book even more than I thought I would, and actually had a hard time putting it down. I’ve been reading The Complete Collection of Jane Austen books on the kindle which is great but it is a lot at once so I needed a little break from it. I was surprised at how much Bringing Up Bébé made me really think about things and really made me analyze some of my parenting with Lewis. Especially in the section about sleep, I found myself wishing I had read this book a long time ago. In a lot of areas I found myself agreeing with the French methods and thinking “Yes! That’s exactly what I do!” and in other areas I was intrigued but felt that the French way is not for me.
There really are some big differences between the American and French attitudes towards children (at least as described by Druckerman. I don’t have any personal experience with French parenting.) Americans certainly do seem to raise “child kings” and allow their children to run the show, while French parents expect a lot more respect/patience/manners from their children. This is something I quickly realized while working with kids – if you have high expectations of children they will most likely live up to them, as long as you are consistent and respectful of them in these expectations.
I have been following Janet Lansbury’s blog for a while now, where she talks about child care and parenting from an RIE perspective. Several times throughout this book I was struck by the similarities between the French parenting and the RIE ideals. They are very similar in their respect of even young infants as full humans who deserve to be treated and spoken to as such and who can understand what is said to them. They are also both similar in their style of setting firm boundaries for the child, especially in areas of safety, but then allowing them great freedom within these boundaries. This is something I am striving for with Lewis, too. I want him to be independent and to trust his interests and instincts, so if he shows an interest in something I allow him to follow that interest provided there is no strong reason against it. This brings to mind also the “Year of YES” attitude from Play At Home Mom.
Anyway, I could go on and on about this book and all the thoughts it has sparked for me regarding eating, sleeping, parenting, schooling, etc. This really was a great book and I would recommend it to anyone, whether you are a parent or not. There is a ton of parenting advice that can be gained from it, but it is also interesting and enjoyable just as a story of this mother’s experiences raising her children in another country.