Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, by Pamela Druckerman
Reviewed by Sherry Bohn, Entrust
This is a very practical, realistic look at some baffling questions: Why do most French babies sleep through the night at three months and American babies do not? Why do French children rarely throw temper tantrums? Why do French children eat an amazing variety of healthy vegetables while American children fill up on snack foods? How can French parents look so rested and balanced even though they are raising small children?
While living in France, Pamela Druckerman went on a search for answers to these and other questions. She had to dig deep, however, because French parents couldn’t easily tell her what they were doing that was different from what she (an American parent) was doing. Desperation pushed her to find the practical answers.
Sleep specialists confirm what the French parent knows instinctively. Babies go through sleep cycles and their midnight whimpering may only mean they are in a shallow sleep. American mothers in their zealousness often pick their babies up, thus completely waking them. The French have learned to employ the pause — waiting a few minutes to discern if the baby really needs something or is only putting himself back into a deeper sleep stage.
I agree with most of what Pamela discovers and recommends, except the use of eye contact in discipline situations. French parents ask the child to look them in the eyes when being reprimanded. In my opinion, however, that direct eye contact should be used for conveying love and acceptance. We tend to remember negatives more easily than positives. I want my children and grandchildren to remember my loving and accepting eyes. I have other ways to make sure they take note of needed reprimands.
This is a great secular book for new parents — best read before the baby is born. My niece had to consult a sleep specialist for her baby son — and after reading this book, felt she could have saved a lot of money if she’d read it earlier.
In the end, it appears the key to French parenting is helping children recognize they are not the center of the universe. After all, isn’t that what the Bible tells each of us?
This review, plus much more about marriage, parenting and families, are on the way in the summer edition of “Engage,” online June 21 at www.entrust4.org/engage.