Words of MavericK

Blabbering of a Fool

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman: A Book Review

This was a book review I had to do for one of the many workshops I had to attend for work, and I thought, though amateurish, it would be a waste to let it fade into history.
And ironically, it’s a parenting book. ^^;

Parenting may be a dry topic to be reading about, but Druckerman’s light-hearted writing and occasional self-mockery will have you flipping the pages, whether you are an expecting mother, or simply just want to learn more about the French way of bring up “bébé” (I’m a single guy, by the way).

The book starts off seemingly off-tangent as Druckerman describes how she had lost her job as a journalist, and how she met her husband Simon. Before you even realize it, she is already depicting her life in Paris and facing her first pregnancy. Bringing Up Bébé (French for “baby”) is an interesting journal of about an American mother who experiences culture shock living in “high-nosed” Paris not just as a foreigner, but a mother who is trying to raise her child in foreign land, which means providing her a childhood that is drastically distinct from her own.

Druckerman provides first-hand accounts about how the children in America are behaving and the mentality of American mothers in trying “to be the best” in raising their children, through her observations of strangers she has met in parks, and friends who share (or vent) their experiences in motherhood. Comparing the children in America with those raised in France, she raises these questions for herself:

  • How do French children sleep through their nights at two or three months old, while those of her American friends take a year or more?
  • How do French children eat well-rounded meals  and sit quietly at the table during mealtimes, while American children scream and shout at the table, demanding for more chicken nuggets and other fried food?
  • How can French parents spend time chatting and sipping together while their children play peacefully on their own, whereas American parents always spend the bulk of their time resolving disputes between their children when they visit one another?

Thus, Druckerman sets off to uncover the secrets of French parenting, hoping to apply these techniques into her own parenting journey. However, this journey is not as simple as she had thought, as she discovers that French parenting does not only involve providing a distinct treatment towards their children as compared to Americans, but it stems deeper from the mentality and expectations of French parents have of their children.

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