Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
by Pamela Druckerman
Penguin Books
ISBN: 978-1-59420-333-6
Buy From Indigo

Description:  The secret behind France's astonishingly well-behaved children.  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.

The Good Stuff
  • Advice is practical and makes total sense
  • Fabulous Index and Bibliography (We know these things are important to me & yes I am a geek thank you very much)
  • Fascinating and would lead to some fabulous discussions at Girls Night Out with the Mom's or book clubs
  • Extremely well researched
  • Self deprecating, honest and funny - she really doesn't hold back on her "supposed" failings as an "American" parent
  • Doesn't "really" judge (though at times it does come across this way) just gives you her thoughts and observations
  • I definitely agree with many of her points and would like to make some changes with my own parenting style
  • Fabulous story on page 33 - sorry no spoilers
  • Liked the inclusion of a couple of unique recipes
  • Thought provoking and makes you take a look at how you are raising your own children
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Though she really does try it still does come across as rather patronizing
  • Would have liked her to have included some information/pointers-- um if your kids are older -- and um  you would like to fix some of your parenting mistakes -- just sayin --  not that we are talking about me or anything
  • She seems to have some issues with French people so why would she  want to raise her children to perhaps turn out like them (really having a hard time trying to explain what I am trying to get across with this point) 
  • At times a tad repetitive and at times I was irritated by the constant generalizations -- not every American parent is over permissive and not every  French parent is calm and perfect
  • Also the advice is very similar to how I was raised as a child, in Canada, so I don't think this is necessarily a French parenting style 
  • I am also concerned that the schools,  not the parents are doing the majority of the raising of French children and how does that affect their growth as human beings (again having a hard time with explaining this point -- must get coffee)
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I hadn't thought I was supposed to admire French parenting. It isn't a thing, like French fashion or French cheese. No one visits Paris to soak up the local views on parental authority and guilt management.  Quite the contrary: the American mothers I know in Paris are horrified that French mothers barely breast-feed, and their four-year-olds walk around with pacifiers."

"But by the time a child is three, French birthday parties are drop-offs. We're supposed to trust that our kids will be okay without us. Parents are usually invited to come back at the end for a glass of champagne and some hobnobbing with the other moms and dads. Simon and I are thrilled whenever we get invitations: it's free babysitting, followed by a cocktail party." (FYI - I'm a Canadian and this is how we throw kids parties too)

"It becomes clear how French our kids' eating habits have become when we visit America.  My mom is excited to introduce Bean to that American classic, macaroni and cheese fro a box. But Bean won't eat more than a few bites. "that's not cheese," she says. I think I detect her first sneer."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Thinking American parents will often be offended on how poorly they are portrayed
  • Fabulous for a book club - especially one with Moms
  • Will be passing this on to a friend who could really benefit from some of the ideas (she is seriously stressed out and her toddler is ruling the roost - and no judging here,  as we are struggling with our toddler as well)
3.5 Dewey's

I purchased this from Indigo on recommendation of Jeremy Cammy (My go to guy for non-fiction)


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