A Baby in Paris

I found myself reading Bringing Up Bébé into the wee hours last night, ravenously curious about what French parenting revelation the author, Pamela Druckerman, would share with me next. It’s similar to Our Babies, Ourselves by Meredith F. Small (which is excellent) in that it unwraps the cultural contexts of American parenting styles that we often take as gospel and opens us up to other possibilities.

The possibilities of French parenting are that your four-month-old will soothe herself to sleep—and sleep through the night, your toddler will contentedly play by herself while adults converse, and that she will also exercise self-control and only eat her pain au chocolat after a proper dinner. The teenagers likely return the car when asked, arrive home before dark, and compliment their parents on their excellent fashion sense and taste in music.

This is based on the premise that even the smallest babies can use reason and exercise patience, skills that can be encouraged with gentle nudges like pausing before responding to cries to give the child time to resolve the issue themselves.

Of course, this all sounds great until you’re faced with a shrieking child and you will do whatever it takes to quiet the child, for the sake of your eardrums, the neighbors, and all that is good in the world.

I know I already wrote about it here, but I continue to pine for a multi-cultural and communal approach to parenting that makes use of cumulative human experiences and perspectives from every culture. It’s crazy that we are left to parent often alone with a partner who is equally inexperienced in childrearing. What other important job are we left to figure out with the other noob in the room?

What practices have you envied from another culture or era?

Andrea Lee is a mom who’s winging it, just like everyone else. 

Tags: French, parenting, advice, patience, commune, communal, together, Family, youth, Mom, Moms, Mommies, Mommy, baby, raising children, child

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