A little over a year ago I read and reviewed Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, a book I enjoyed immensely, even though I wouldn't necessarily employ all of Chua's parenting methods myself.
Now, Pamela Druckerman has written a book about raising a child in France and the different parenting techniques and tendencies she has noticed as an American in Paris. Again, just as with Chua's book, I don't think I would want to practice everything that Druckerman writes about. However, neither does Druckerman. As an American in Paris she is able to see the difference between parenting in the American style with that of her French counterparts.
While American children (her own included) seem to whine a great deal, French children seem not to whine much at all. In fact, French parents can take young children to restaurants and not feel as though they are being tortured. Everyone appears to be having a good time. Druckerman begins to notice a few subtle differences between the way she is raising her children and how most French parents are raising theirs. First of all, parents don't appear to be sleep deprived in France. While American parents lament children who don't sleep through the night for years, French parents seem to have a different take on getting a child to stay asleep. They practice waiting to pick up their children who seem to be agitated during sleep. This philosophy of waiting produces children who are able to sleep through the night at an early age.
Overall the French children Druckerman knows seem to allow their parents to have an adult life- something most American parents find lacking. French parents have managed to create children with a great deal of autonomy and lives that are separate from their parents.
Bringing Up Bebe chronicles Druckerman's own parenting travails from her time as a new parent in France and her baby girl, Bean, to the arrival of twin boys and an acceptance for the expat life she has carved out with her husband, Simon. At first there is more about the baby years, which I didn't find as interesting since I am past that point with my own children. But, as I read I began to see how Druckerman's book is constructed to not only encompass the time of infancy, but also older children and the French philosophy to parenting.
I was sorry to finish this one last night, and am hopeful that after reading and enjoying Chua's book and now Druckerman's there will be another parenting book someday focusing on a different culture.