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Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting


By Pamela Druckerman

Penguin Press

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Whenever I’m in Europe I can’t help but notice that the dogs are better behaved than most American children.  And whenever I’m stateside (especially in a confined space like a mall or an airplane) I can’t help but notice the little ankle-biters thrashing and flailing about, desperate for toys, food, love or attention.  Because who doesn’t want those things?

Ms. Druckerman, an American journalist who lives in Paris with her British husband and three children, looks at where children’s behavior comes from, and the practices employed by French and American mothers.  It’s a book that will make you wonder why we feel the need to always entertain and please the little ones.  The French system, she explains, is more about being a bit stern and not buckling under the pressure.  Let that baby fall back asleep by himself.  Let him wait until dinner to eat.  Use the word “no,” and actually mean it.

Pretty simple stuff, really, but when you look at the way we live and treat children in the United States, you know that this is the kind of thing that needs to be said out loud.  It’s a fascinating study, and one that all American parents should read as they consider how to bring up their children.