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Bringing Up Baby

No two countries do it alike. The French have their own rules. We’ll look at bringing up baby around the world.

Two children are pulled on a sledge in a park, in Ghent, Belgium, Sunday Feb. 5, 2012.  (AP)

Two children are pulled on a sledge in a park, in Ghent, Belgium, Sunday Feb. 5, 2012. (AP)

Bringing up baby is always a challenge.  Raising kids.  Child-rearing.  There are a million ways to do it.  Americans seem to wonder endlessly if they’re on the right path.  Permissive parent.  Tiger Mom.  Different cultures, different ways.  No two countries do it alike.

We’re going to look at bringing up baby around the world today.  We’ll start in France, where my guest says they have a way that’s much easier on parents.  And then we’ll just keep going.  China.  Colombia.  Kenya.  Jordan. Thailand.

This hour, On Point:  Bringing up baby, around the world.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Pamela Druckerman, journalist and author of Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. You can find an excerpt from the book here (PDF).

Jennifer Lansford, developmental psychologist and professor in the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University. She is the lead investigator on the Parenting Across Cultures project, which is a study of mothers, fathers, and children in 9 countries.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Daily Beast “Every year, the American media elite takes a big spin on the Wheel o’ Ethnic Insecurity and determines which foreign culture we’re all supposed to emulate and fear. Last year it was the Chinese. Maybe in 2013 everyone will finally come to appreciate Denmark.”

Philadelphia Inquirer “French parents don’t fuss apparently, running to comfort a child’s every fall. Babies are expected to “self-soothe,” cry until they fall asleep. Consequently, French mothers get more rest and look more fetching – and being French, they already have a head start. Gallic parents aren’t overly protective or indulgent. They’re strict without being harsh: “They aren’t trying to prod them into becoming prodigies.”

New York Magazine “French people are much more relaxed about being parents. You’re not, like, breeding a racehorse. In France, you don’t always talk about your kids. You don’t spend your weekends bringing them to sports things. ”

Playlist

“Alouette” by Lucienne Vernay and Les Quatre Barbus
“Working Is the Most Honorable” by China Broadcast Children’s Choir

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • L armond

    This French & Indian Native American has simple rules for raising children.  (l)  Never raise your voice.  It freezes children, like a slap in the face.  Exception:  When you need to yell:  FREEZE
    (2)  MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO (3) BIRDIE HEAR, BIRDIE SAY (4) ALWAYS WATCH GRANDMOTHER WITH CHILD, or Other World Weary Individual (5)  With Discretion:  Whatever the child can get up on themselves, they can fall off of safely.  If you yell, they will definitely fall.  Leave well enough alone.  Stay on point, quietly. (6)  Like all foods. (7) Read Aloud. (8) Sing Cole Porter songs, and other American Classics, French Classics, Russian…etc., etc.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Many good ideas, that mostly worked with my children!
         I can’t say that I was always sucessful with ALL of them!:) 
        I would like to add a couple that worked for me?  Don’t always take your child’s side of things, NOR always assume your child is at fault!  Investigate, and pay attention!  If your child is right, stand up for them!  If your child is at fault, consider the circumstances, and straighten them out!
         Pass on praise that you get about your child, TO your child!  Ask the person to say it to the child, or so the child can hear it.  This re-inforces good behavior.
         Love your children, and let them know that you love them, no matter what!  You can love them, and NOT like what they do.

  • Yar

    Apply capitalism to family and you end up with a failed society.  A family is socialism by definition. The contradiction in America created by  connotations around socialism is undermining family. For example: a housewife, is called unemployed.  Housewife a job title, like mailman, it is not really a gender identity.(homemaker or postal worker don’t carry the same occupational meaning) 
    Women found that they could not count on marriage to last a lifetime, and that time spent at home was not valued by employers, so they opted on career outside the home as a means of survival. 
    Daycare, two car, long commute, the two income trap, has stressed the suburban family to the point it is a wonder it works at all.  50 percent divorce rate, substance abuse, economic slavery, cleaves America into a nation of haves and wants. 
    There is more value to society in a strong poor family than a wealthy broken one.  Families were the first union, individuals are easily exploited, capitalism grows like mold on the destruction of family. Republicans claim to promote family, while they undermines every family friendly policy.  Just as a sanitary sewer isn’t sanitary, the ‘right’ only sees individual rights as a means to profit, not as a way to build strong families. They claim with disdain that the left is socialistic, and spread fears of socialism.  Capitalism is a form of cannibalism that consumes families. (Read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle)Was this supposed to be a fluff piece on how rich people raise their children?   I am trying to show the other side of the coin.  Family friendly policies include access to healthcare not tied to employment, economics that give parents time to raise children, and good public education.  We are in trouble, everything can be lost in a single generation. Strong families fit into my concept of a civil society. I wish we were a little more like France.  

    • Anonymous

      “Capitalism grows like mold on the destruction of family.” Good line.

    • notafeminista

      What effect did or does no fault divorce have on what you just described? 

      • Yar

        No fault divorce is only a symptom, many families at point of divorce have negative net equity.  I would like to see a realistic value put on parenting. 

        • notafeminista

          I agree.  If one makes the decision to bring children into this world, then parenting said child should be the first priority.  Why then the encouragement by society for someone else to raise the children?

          • Modavations

            communistas my dear

          • Yar

            Short term profits.

          • notafeminista

            We send our children away from the home for 8-12 hours a day starting sometime as early as age 3 for short term profit?

            I guess you’ll have to elaborate.

          • Yar

            Society only values the worker who enters into the formal workforce. We buy into societal expectations.  Keeping up with the Jones, consumerism, getting ahead, all lead us to make choices that hurt our families over the long term.  

            The current US family model is far different than the norm of multi-generational households that have existed on earth for thousands of years.  We have monetized the family. Take taxes, cost of work, (second car, insurance, daycare, poor nutrition from fast food) and the family would in most cases be better off if one parent stayed home, and not necessarily the woman.We should value that as a society. 
            Currently we don’t.

          • notafeminista

            But the women did stay at home.  Were we better off then?

          • Tina

            I believe that I had a better life with my stay at home mom (who had fewer machines to use than even she did by the time I left home) than my child did with my working. It is scary to see how little choice you have when it comes to choosing daycare and after school providers.  Even then, you often don’t learn important things til later

          • Terry Tree Tree

            I agree with you on this!  Unfortunately, a LOT of the children in this world, were NOT concious decisions to bring children into the world, and LOTS of people refuse, or don’t know how to take responsibility for them!

          • notafeminista

            So let’s abort them instead.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Your choice?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Astute Synopsis, Yar!
         Everyone that wants to FORCE families to stay together, should be FORCED to live with, and be subservient to an abusive drunk, drug-addict, with other bad characteristics, to see what they are talking about?
         How much money would it take for the proponents of financial incentives, to stay with such a spouse?  At the risk of your life, every second?  Knowing your children are in danger every second?  Watching the abusive spouse destroy themselves?

    • Steve

      When Israel was led into captivity in Babylon the poor and the land were allowed to rest/remain while those that had lived in cedar walled bedrooms (leaders, mighty men, ruling families) were blinded and led away with hooks through their noses.

  • Marion

    I am french and live in New England since 10 years where I raise 3 kids. I read the article about Mrs Druckerman in the Huffington post. It was excellent, funny and so true !!!!. I look forward to hear your program.

  • Modavations

    Here’s a novel approach.Marry and raise children in a two parent(male-female)household.Wait till you’re twenty one to have your kids(not 40)and graduate high school

    • MarkVII88

      In some ways I agree with you.  If you and your spouse (whatever gender they happen to be) love each other and show affection towards each other, this can only help create a more positive environment than if one parent is always away, working, distant, stressed, etc.  My wife and I had our 3 kids when we were between the ages of 25 and 30 and I definitely feel like it has placed us out of step with a majority of our peers and more in-step with those who are 10 or 12 years older.

      • Modavations

        I’m not for homosexuals raising kids.You need masculine and feminine to raise a balanced child.My opinion

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Too many single-parents have HAD to raise their children alone, and done a good job of it, for this to be valid.
             It is best, if children have two loving, positive-role parents, but one loving, positive-role parent is FAR better than one that is always in conflict or otherwise negative!

          • Modavations

            I wouldn’t trust you alone in a room with children.You’re one sick puppy.That’s my opinion

          • Sam

             You’re an IDIOT Mod.

            Terry is a great parent and I admire his patience, love and understanding, even of idiots, such as yourself.

          • Modavations

            There’s the real Sammy

          • Sam

             Right, because 1 out of 20 of my posts represent the REAL ME!

            Just like 1 out of your 20 posts, the only 1 being nice, represents the REAL YOU!

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Just because I hand your own words back to you?
               There is NOTHING in my comment history, that could indicate ANY danger to children, because I am a good parent.
               Your frustration at your inability to intimidate and over-power me, with your heavy-metals-influenced mental capacity, causes you to make unfounded inferrences?

          • Modavations

            Make an intellectual argument then throw in an innanity.To follow someone all day and just shout names is weakling.You get more hysterical after !0:00Pm after the cocktails kick in.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Accusing me of drunken behavior?  I challenge everyone to look back at YOUR comment history, and MY comment history, and see who is more inane, and hysterical?
               Maybe they could also see who more closely meets the standards for ‘stalking’?

          • Modavations

            Terry I make arguments.You get hysterical

          • Anonymous

            Funny, I see your arguments as diatribes.
            What is hysterical are your comments and how misinformed they are.

          • Anonymous

            What’s that smell?
            It’s the stench of mendacity.

          • Tina

            Please don’t turn this site into low-grade mudslinging.  I’m blessed with not having the patience to follow some of the back-and-forths between regulars in any way that let’s me guess who feels how about whom.  Mercifully, most people use this site for airing POVs and experience with the topics.  Please don’t degrade the site!  Thanks!

          • Modavations

            iN READ YOU ONCE,HAD NO NEED FOR A FURTHER DOSE.sUGGEST THE SAME

          • Terry Tree Tree

            How little you know me, and about me?

        • MarkVII88

          I know what you mean.  It wouldn’t be a good thing for all that gay to rub off on the kids.  I’d rather my kids learn that there is only one right way to create a family too.

          • Modavations

            You raise your kids they way you like and I’ll raise mine 

          • Sam

            Until your kid kills my kid because he is different.

            You don’t live in an island, you live in a society.

            Love, peace, tolerance, is the only way that we, as a family, community and nation, will succeed.

            But then again, you are entitled to your opinion and I respect your close-minded views, Mod & Mark.

          • Yar

            I have difficulty being tolerate of the intolerant.

          • Sam

             That’s your problem.

          • Modavations

            Yar,please translate for me.I don’t get half of his stuff

          • Modavations

            I disagree.You are totalitarian to the bone.My opinion

          • Yar

            No, you don’t know me at all, I am a voice crying in the wilderness.

          • Sam

             My jaw dropped at reading your gay-hating comments.

            This kind of inflexibility and intolerance and hatred is what causes kids to grow up bullying others who are not like them.

            Best of luck to you, in this changing world and I hope you will realize how wrong you are in your thinking, at some point in your life.

          • MarkVII88

            Wow…I suppose you didn’t read my first comment in reply to Modavations and I suppose that you must have issues detecting sarcasm.

          • Sam

             Yes, I have problems detective sarcasm in a forum. But I don’t have a problem apologizing when I have misread or misunderstood someone.
            So, I am sorry, for grouping you into the same category as Mod.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            I missed the sarcasm, too.  This is a subject too dear to me, and I get a little sensitive about people seeming to talk cavalierly about raising children.
               It was good sarcasm, when recognized as such!

          • Modavations

            You are why I put “J” next to the obvious.

          • Sam

             Oh, so you’re a Mister Obvious today?!
            Is that your super hero name?

          • Modavations

            Stop getting hysterical.I have no idea what your going on about

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Except that the lead and mercury keeps you from putting it there, and guppy doesn’t remind you?
               I’m beginning to wonder if guppy is as smart as you say, or you just overwork guppy?

          • Modavations

            I rest my case,your honor.

          • Modavations

            I understood you and 99% of the audience knew you were being sarcastic.Free speech can get offensive kids.Sorry

          • Modavations

            Who said we hate gays.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            ONLY one right way to create a family?  Rape?  Incest?  Lies? 
               Males, and sometimes females DON’T always take responsibility for the children they help to create!
               If you love your children, instead of LOVING YOUR EGO, you accept their differences, whichever they are.  Mental handicaps, physical handicaps, sexual orientation, that is YOUR child!   If you disagree, I pity your children having to grow up with you, if they do?

          • Sam

             Terry, you are a wonderful father. A rarity in any country.

            A father who will stick by his children no matter how hard it is. I admire your commitment, your love and patience, among many other qualities.

            It is people like you, that make this world a better place to live, not people like these intolerant .

          • Modavations

            Do you know Terry?In my opinion this guy is pyscghologically damaged.Just my opinion

          • Sam

            I appreciate you sharing your opinion with this forum. It is SO on topic!

            I have a different opinion, and we’re both entitled to our own different opinions.

            But consider this.
            Mine is tolerant and supportive, while yours is judgmental and hurtful. My opinion.

          • Modavations

            You’re idea of toleranceis different from mine.I take no offense in differences of opinion.I welcome them

          • Anonymous

            Really? That’s news to me.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            They teach this spelling and punctuation at B.C.?  It doesn’t look like much to brag about?

          • Modavations

            Make an argumentplease

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Moda makes my point, MOST of the time!  Then obsesses about making it further?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Thank you, Sam.  It was my choice, because their mother said the first one wasn’t mine.  When I asked her to marry me, and she accepted, he became mine, in my mind, and I have NEVER changed that!
               I could have made LOTS more money, or spent time like a lot of the guys that I have worked with.  My children were my first priority, and that’s how I lived my life.  I believe I had more fun, and have contentment about it.

          • Yar

            Bless you, you are a father.

            “My children were my first priority” 
            My children are my first priority, even though they are grown.
            I suspect that may be how it is with you as well.
            The most rewarding time in my life was that as a homemaker, and it included building the house.  Time is the most valuable resource.Money is overvalued. Nobody  looks back on life and says “I wish I spent more time at work.”

          • Terry Tree Tree

            A home-maker, that is truely a home-builder?  WOW!  Home-making is important enough, in its own right!

          • notafeminista

            Isn’t this where TRFX says “anec is not a sufficient prefix for data”?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Fine by me.
              I doubt that I know any of you personally, and therefore ALL I can go by, is what you write here?   That’s all you have about me, too.

          • Modavations

            These guys are sooooo predictable.

          • NrthOfTheBorder

            MarkVII88.  Do your homework! Gayness is not an infectious disease – and don’t ‘rub off’.  Talk to an open and honest gay person and they’ll be first to tell you they didn’t catch it in the locker room. 

          • MarkVII88

            Please do YOUR homework and read the rest of the thread so you can learn to spot sarcasm when you see it.

          • Modavations

            Marky,are we the only two that understand sarcasm.To me it was obvious.I didn’t like the snark,but I got it

        • Yar

          What is your point of view on raising homosexual children?  
          Family can be defined many ways, a sperm donor doesn’t make a father.  Fair or balanced: love, not hate builds healthy adults out of children. I watched a piece on the civil rights movement last night, the hate of ‘those balanced adults’ is overwhelming.  No, homosexuals should not be forced into straight relationships by a sick society.  Accept people for who they are, and hold them accountable for their actions.

        • NrthOfTheBorder

          Mod. Perhaps better an attentive, mindful gay parent than an absent father. God knows there are plenty of those around.

          • Modavations

            Last time I’ll say it.Marry(male-female),have kids at 21 and graduate highschool.The Left’s feminists said,you don’t need a husband!!!!I think that;’s been a disaster

    • Terry Tree Tree

      How does this apply to the people that are already parents?  A thirteen-year-old rape VICTIM?  A deserted teenage mom? 
         How about ways to deal with the REAL world situations?
         What are you proposing to do with ALL the people that haven’t done what you say?  The children?  You going to put them back in, for 3 to 7 years?
         Males of all ages, rape, or seduce females of ALL ages, especially younger and younger! 

  • Hidan

    How much does an 50% divorce rate have to do with the decline of the family?

  • Soli

    I read the writeup of the book in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend. Radical concept, and yet it’s not. My mom grew up in Sweden so my childhood was a bit more in line with the French model presented.

  • KWS

    Time for ANOTHER program on this hour of On-Point featuring self-hating Americans. I’m a new (American) mom and I encourage my 1 year old to “self-soothe” by not fussing over every fall, but, at the same time, I think it is cruel to leave your child to cry alone in his/her crib. I read the excerpt, and I don’t think it’s fair for the author to characterize all American parents based on her failings as a parent, or to compare all American parents to the small sampling for “perfect” French parents she has encountered.

  • Sam

    Please mention the “Love and Logic” parenting philosophy. I think it’s wonderful and I would love to hear from someone who has successfully implemented it.

    Thank you

    • Terry Tree Tree

      I haven’t read anything on this philosophy, by name, but it is pretty much the way I raised my children.
         I explained to my children WHY I did most of what I did.
         I explained the reasons for why I had my children do the things that I had them do.
         My children hardly EVER heard the phrase “Because I said so”.  When they did, they did what I told them, and then could ask later ‘WHY’, and get an answer!
         Sometimes, they got tired of the explainations, but they use them a lot, with their own children, instead of just issuing orders!

  • Anonymous

    I saw this woman on the TV. All I can say is she’s full of it.
    I think it’s absurd to generalize. Mind you the way they teach kindergarten children to respect food and how they learn table manners at an early age is commendable. The Japanese do this as well. Here we just feed them junk and don’t teach kids anything about food and manners.
     

    • Anonymous

      @jeffe68:disqus :  I heard this author on the BBC with an actual French mother, and the French mother was in disagreement with some of her generalizing and Francophilia.  It’s an excellent thing to learn from other cultures, but I feel that Ms. Druckerman is the worst kind of “look at me” narcicist who essentially wants to talk about how great it is to live in France.

      No culture has a lock on being good parents. 

  • Sam

    In Russia, children have much more responsibilities growing up than they do in the States.

    At an early age, older children are expected to help around the house, with most of not all chores, care for their younger siblings, so that parents can work and rest when they get home.

    As well as do well in school, finish all their homework and extra curricular activities.

    Teach someone how to fish, instead of giving them fish.

    • Modavations

      Russians live to 55.Mexican live to 80.

      • Sam

        That’s a lovely statistic!
        I am sure it is OH SO TRUE!!!

        God, I hope you outlive me!

        • NrtOfTheBorder

          Sam, cut it out. Dumb sarcasm poisons the well. 

          • Modavations

            I’ll trade you twenty Obamas for one Martin

      • nj

        And ignorance lives forever in Moda-land.

      • Modavations

        Sorry,sorry.Life expectancy of Russian males is 65.In Mexico males live to 78.The Russ.population life expectancy as a whole ,will reach 75 in year 2025.Socialism and Communism fail in all spheres

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Most good parents recognize the desire of a child to help, and give them chores.   Chores give a child the start of a sense of responsibility, and accomplishment, in a positive manner.  Taking the time to teach the child the proper way to do the chores, and doing quality control, creates a better work ethic.
         The whole family is, in part, responsible for the family’s sucess, or even survival.  Parents need to remember and teach this. 

  • Sam

    Also, it would be interesting to hear Tom and guests touch on the rise of ADD and oppositional behavior diagnoses, and how US vs other countries’ parents would deal with those issues.

    I think there is a lot more understanding and acceptance of these medical problems in the States, rather than in Europe and other countries.

    • Modavations

      Quit having kids at 40 and ADD disappears

      • Sam

        Well, don’t you have a solution to every problem!!!

        Oh, all-knowing person!!!
        Maybe you should be elected president and solve all of US problems!

        • Modavations

          The real Sammy has slipped from behind the curtain

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Sam, please reconsider hoping Moda outlives you, and/or becomes President?  Would you really do that to your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren?
             I’m presuming that you meant sarcasm, but it is an idea that is scary!

          • Modavations

            And the intellectual point is what?

          • Anonymous

            That you don’t have any.

      • Yar

        Not totally, I have it and my parents were in their 20′s, my children have it and I was in my 20′s.  I wonder if ADHD is a trait that attracts mates with similar genetics.  What if it is a self replicating condition though mate selection?  A recessive gene that expresses itself because the mate looks and behaves ‘right’. The larger the mate selection pool the more likely that the recessive gene finds a similar mate.  It is just a thought, I notice I am often attracted to people that express that trait.

        • Modavations

          Males can mate at old age,women can’t.The egg atrophies.A real old guy and a real young woman will have problems

          • Anonymous

            You know you need to do a little reading up on this. The male sperm does deteriorate with age. Having children after 40 is a risk for both male and female.  Personally I don’t think people should have children after 45, it’s asking for trouble.
            There are exceptions, but, we are not the aging process is in full swing by the time you’re in the fourth decade of life. It’s a lot easier to run and play with your kid when you’re 30 than 50. Also think about being a senior citizen when you kid graduates from college.

          • Modavations

            Have you’re kids at 21

          • Terry Tree Tree

            And, for those in the REAL world?

          • Yar

            So do the telomeres on the sperm. More birth defects and other issues.  Young and fit make better incubators, but may not make better decisions.  Alcohol and other drugs affect development of sperm and embryo.  Nutrition is important for development and appears to effect the eggs of the mother even into the second generation. Gene expression is more complicated than we understand.

          • Modavations

            You heard me the first time

          • Ellen Dibble

            A baby girl’s ova are already there by the time she is born, so what the grandmother was eating and drinking and breathing are ingrained  in the eggs her daughter carries.  That’s my understanding.  I think male sperm are produced ad hoc, not prebirth.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          I wonder if there have been studies on this?  A lot of the time, nice people are drawn to bad people for mates. 
             Perhaps it’s a matter of subconcious sympathy, or empathy, since you have the condition, and understand.  Others may avoid them, due to intolerance, and/or fear?

          • notafeminista

            Of course there are.  It’s called enabling and co-dependency…hello?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            ADD attraction to ADD?
               I was aware of enabling and co-dependency. 
               Do studies and psychologists agree that it is the same?

        • http://www.dpsinfo.com LaurieMann

          ADD goes back generations on both sides of my family – one grandfather got in trouble in school, my father is in his 80s and doesn’t sit still, I was the only girl on Ritalin in the early ’60s, ditto my daughter and a nephew.  I agree it’s more common now, but it’s hardly a new condition and I don’t think it’s particularly related to the age of parents.

      • Ironman

         Honestly, that is the funniest thing I’ve heard all week! I hope you have an appreciation of just how hilarious you are, over and over again. You hit all the points of that the lowest of the low in IQ and world view believe. You can continue to feed the masses misinformation in your over-the-top style. Comedy Central is waiting….

  • Guest

    Great topic. Looking forward to the show.

  • Julie

    My Dad is American and my Mom is Euro. Can’t wait to hear  this program as a 30-something considering kids in my near future!

  • Tncanoeguy

    God forbid we admit that the French do something better than us – something other than cheese.  

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Nah, the English know cheese, and California makes excellent wine.

      • Tncanoeguy

         Farmer on a program yesterday said that anything can be grown in CA – often better as you note. 

    • Modavations

      I love the French but their T.V. sucks.Most europeans I know come from intact families and have extended families.Americans have the broken home

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    If the French have recognized that other people’s children aren’t my fault, then vive la France.

  • Tncanoeguy

    It seems that if you don’t introduce the fatty salty foods in the first place the kids won’t crave those kinds of foods.  

  • Muriel

    As always in these kinds of books (See French Women Don’t Get Fat), there is some truth to what the author says but it is a big oversimplification.  My brother (French) has a one year-old baby who does not sleep well at night, wakes up 3-4 times and he does not use the Ferber method so basically he and his wife get up at night and try to work it out.  Kids are definitely more independent especially on playgrounds that is right (I am French, travel to France frequently and am raising my 3 kids in the US) and more diciplined and well-behaved at restaurants or public places 

  • Cookworks

    Im 63 an I think my parents generation brought us up more like the French

    • Ebutler

      I was just thinking similarly:  This book sounds like a description of how I was brought up–in America and in the fifties and sixties, no less!

      • Adks12020

        I was brought up this way in the 80s and 90s (I’m 30).  So were all of my cousins.  I think it’s an issue with the parents.  Kids are always the same.  It’s the way parents react that changes things. 

  • Ellen Dibble

    May we have a spelling for Francois Gaulteaut (the French Dr. Spock)?

  • http://kitmitchell.com/ Kit Mitchell

    So refreshing! Raising children with logic and wisdom. As an older parent of a very young child I use common sense to survive. Reportedly-my daughter is a lovely child. I think/hope it is working.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Oh, so  American children were brought up in the French way when I was little, so 1940s and 1950s.  Just exactly like that. We certainly changed.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       I blame the hippies.

      • Ellen Dibble

        I think I might be with you on that.  They tried to raise their children in all ways unlike that used by their parents, something like that.

        • Modavations

          I’m still a hippy and I agree

          • Terry Tree Tree

            STILL stoned? 
               That explains some of it?

    • Ellen Dibble

      I will make this a political statement too.  American moms now try to  train their children for a winner-take-all world, a super-capitalist world.  The 1940s and 1950s, we were in a socialist daze brought about by being herded into World War II.  We still knew about being little soldiers.  We sang along Allouette while the daddy shaved. 

  • Tina

    Hey!!!  Creativity works BEST with limits!!!  Some might even say, Creativity Demands Limits!  

    • notafeminista

      Don’t tell that to the folks at Disney/Pixar – “To infinity and beyond!!”

      Or to NASA.

      Or to Galileo.  He might have kept pointing that telescope out instead of up.

  • Yar

    Many parents fear that their kids won’t love them. It is difficult to parent out of fear.  Our job is to love our kids even when the ‘hate us’ Don’t try to be your child’s best friend.

    • Ellen Dibble

      The parents are the tyrants.  They actually do have all the resources, all the connections, all the information, at least for the first several years.  Oh, Syria.  Expect to be overthrown, dear parents.  Hope to reinstated as good friends.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      SOOOO True!

  • Adks12020

    ok…within the first 10 minutes of this discussion I’ve started to think my parents are actually French underneath the English and Irish.

    My parents have told my brother and I our whole lives that they never had an issue taking us out to restaurants.  We behaved and ate what they got us. We didn’t throw tantrums in public. I need to make the point that my parents treated us with respect.  They said no and meant it when it was necessary and we knew they meant it.  There was no punishment necessary because we knew objecting wouldn’t get us anywhere.
     
    We both played outside, often without our parents, from a very young age.  They were there if we needed them but we ususally didn’t.  We occupied ourselves and made up games out of nothing with neighborhood kids.  We built forts in the yard. We didn’t need our parents to occupy our time.

    I think if I had parents that carted me around to activities constantly, always on a schedule, I would have been a very sad kid.  We both played soccer because we wanted to and my brother took karate for a couple years…that was about it.  It’s important for both parents and children to have their own time…for both of their sanity.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see this as French child rearing, I see this as good and solid child rearing and it is done at my home and at other homes in America. Shame on your guest for stereotyping all Americans or all the French. I am an American mom who BOTH sets limits and listens to my child and I have friends who do the same!!

    • Sam

      She is generalizing and stereotyping.

      Not all French parents are like what she describes and not ALL American parents is what she describes.

      • Sam

        I wouldn’t take it personally.
        And I don’t.

        I know that what she is talking about doesn’t apply to me and my parenting, so …

        She’s just shedding light to a problem, that exists, in America, with some parents and their parenting.

  • Julia

    I am astonished! Pamela is describing American childhood in my generation. Unwittingly, I even raised my children “the French way.” Where did Miss Pamela grow up?

  • Ufpog91

    Of course the French have an upper hand in this area.  Just look around your community and you will see how much impovement our culture needs.

  • Sam

    I don’t understand why “Love and Logic” isn’t even being mentioned?!

    “Love and Logic” parenting was developed BY American psychologists.

    The basics are: Empathy and consequences.
    You give your kids lots of empathy, but then follow up with consequences.

    “Love and Logic” parenting teaches parents how to be consultants, not “drill sergeants” and “helicopter parents”.

    Setting limits and boundaries, but when kids push the limits and boundaries, there are consequences.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      That’s not the book they’re discussing.  They rarely comment much about another book, when they have the author of a book on.
         Thanks for bringing it up.  I may mention it to my children.

  • Sam

    I think American parents are AFRAID of setting limits, because of fear
    of Child Protective Services. Is there something similar to CPS in
    France?! Is the fear of being “investigated” as a parent hangs over
    French parents?!

  • Courtney

     When I worked as a preschool teacher in Manhattan, we had a few French kids.  They threw the WORST temper tantrums!  We always thought their parenting style was more relaxed because they left the discipline to their care takers. It’s so funny that the French nanny refused to work for American families.

  • Annie

    My husband and I are discussing this as we listen, and it really seems to come down to a difference in attitude that informs different parenting styles. There is the “childhood is sacred and special” attitude and the “childhood is the time to learn how to be an adult” attitude. The first confines children to childish things–kids will be kids, etc., while the second looks at childhood as a safe and supervised space where children can practice doing things they’ll need to be able to do on their own as an adult. My husband and I are aiming for the second of these in the way that we deal with our son–we want him to learn how to do all these things on his own, so this means supporting him as he tries and fails or tries and succeeds, but only helping when he really needs help.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Some of both?

  • Sam

    OMG!
    That stay in your room, do whatever you want, is what “Love and Logic” teaches.
     

  • Julie

    OMG. My Euro Mom did that when I was little. You don’t have to go to sleep, but you have to stay in your room. Why? Parents need parent alone time!!

  • MarkVII88

    One of the hardest parts about raising kids is when you see a friend or a family member struggling with a parenting strategy that doesn’t appear to be working…always giving in to their child, never saying a firm “no”…and their children seem to walk all over them, whining when they don’t get their way, and causing a lot of apparent stress for the parents.  When is it OK to make a parenting suggestion when it’s not your kid?

    • notafeminista

      Always.  It takes a village doesn’t it?

      • Sam

         Yes, but it has to be done in a non-pushy-I-know-it-all way! The “my way is the best and only right way”!!!

        It can be done in such a way, where it won’t be taken as you’re being told what to do.

        You can say something like “When my kids do this, I have tried doing this and this, and it worked”
        Or “Have you tried doing this? It has been known to work with other children in other situations”

        But no one, including clueless parents, wants an unwanted advice!!!

        You also have to understand and respect the other parent’s right to struggle on their own, and come to their own solutions.
        Give them empathy, say “I see how hard this is on you. I have struggled with the same.”

        And you also have to understand that “no parent+child” couple is alike. Not even in the same family!!
        And you have to respect that what works for you and your child, may not work for another parent and their child.

        But you can’t be pushy. Some parents may get defensive and reject the well meaning advice.

  • Concerned

    Please tell us what is the status of breast-feeding by French mothers.  My understanding is that waking up at night by the infant and baby is to take in nourishment. 

  • Lrob1

    It sounds like the French never when through the 1960s era of child raising as happened in the US.  In the 50s, and before, we raised our kids much the same as the French.  Eat whats on your plate, don’t make too much noise around adults, go out and play and I won’t freak that I don’t see you for an hour or two.

  • mary

    I’m sorry this is “new” and “French”? Mom of 3 here-listening to this and not finding much profound. This sounds like us and many american families I know. 

    • drmo

      I so agree.  Merely repackaging and getting PR out of it.

  • Parent of One

    In response to question on the show…I find these comparisons interesting…however, overall I find myself saying “enough”…I think having all this focus is damaging on some level. There is such a culture of fear about how “we” are parenting. There are so many books/shows/etc…I think it creates a toxic atmosphere and feeds into “mompetition” (“parentition”) that seems prevalent. There are many ways to parent…aside from abusive situations…that is okay. We don’t need to try to fit ourselves into whatever is currently deemed the way to go (e.g. be a tiger mom, be a french mom). 

    • Jatkinson

       I am a 61 year old Dad with two very accomplished daughters. I must say that it seems to me that parenting has gone from an exercise in leadership to one of “participation.” I don’t know if that is because we now tend to see our children as extensions of ourselves or not, but I must laugh when I see T-ball games at our local park with 20 players and 15 coaches on each team.
      We raised our children to be independent human beings and that they are.

  • Tricia

    Saying “No” is one of the best things you can do for your children. I am appalled by the giving-in that I see around with other parents.  My 7 and 11 year old travel the world with us and are well behaved in the right circumstances, but robust boys roughhousing when ‘off line’.  When we are abroad, whether in Africa, Sweden or France – they eat what they are given.  There isn’t anything else. No nuggets there!  Having a “sorry, that is the way it is attitude” has been the best parenting technique there is.  

  • natasha

    Our family  (two small kids)  has traveled to France for vacation for the last several years.  We are always amazed by how well behaved French children are in restaurants (to the extent children are welcome at all).  It seems that French children even at a very early are are able to sit through a meal of several courses and eat politely and quietly, including veggies and even things like mussels and escargo.  How do French parents achieve that? 

    • http://www.dpsinfo.com LaurieMann

      Just expose your kids to all kinds of food.  Until she was 5, our daughter ate anything – including sushi, Chinese food, and more vegetables than I did.  At 5, she started getting fussier about food (and my mother told me I did the same thing). Still, if we went to a restaurant with interesting food, she always wanted to try it.

  • http://www.dpsinfo.com LaurieMann

    I also used the “5 minute rule” when my kid was a baby.  Probably half the time, she went back to sleep, but if she was still crying after 5 minutes, it meant she needed an adult (hungry, wet, teething, colic).  Babies make noise, and that doesn’t always mean they need an adult to do something.  By the time she was 4 months old, she generally slept 10 hours a night unless she was teething or sick.  When she was older, we had the rule of, after a story, telling her she needed to stay in bed.  As difficult as our daughter could be at times, she was pretty easy about bedtime and sleep most of the time.

  • KWS

    Hey Pamela! Thanks for acknowledging my comment about letting babies cry it out at night. I do employ the “French” method of pausing before entering my baby’s room when he is noisy at night-time and nap-time to see if he is just talking or actually upset. However, I would not credit the French for showing me this parenting technique. I think it is just common sense.

  • Nickie

    Has the author seen how many French mothers smack their kids about the head?  I have. Corporal punishment is still acceptable, even in public.  Also, kids get more autonomy because French parents are not as worried about crime.

    • Tncanoeguy

       Is the concern here in the US about pedophiles etc… overblown?  Does it cause us to be overprotective? 

  • George

    This is making a lot of sense and I like and do many of the things your guest is talking about.  And yet, I (a stay at home dad of two boys with one more on the way) still struggle with discipline.  I find setting the lines is not hard, and I think my kids are quite well behaved  compared with what I see in public – but I still get angry and lose my temper at the antics of a 3 year old.  Should we get angry sometimes or is this to be avoided?  What does your guest think?

    • Sam

       I get angry and loose my temper too. And it’s so hard, because I feel SO guilty whenever I do.
      And I what I noticed is that kids will imitate their parents.
      So I don’t want my kid loosing his temper, so I know that I cannot keep doing this and I am working on finding other ways to express my frustrations.

      I have put a lock on his bedroom, and follow the “bedroom time” instead of a time-out. It gives him time to calm down (2 year old) and me, time to calm down.
      He can come out, when he is “nice and sweet”.

      And it’s also ok to give yourself a time out. :)
      I often do.

      But, you also have to remember that all children are different and for one 3 year old it might take 3 minutes to clam down, and for some it would take longer/shorter.
      Which is why I don’t think the 1 minute for every year of kid’s life timeouts work.

      Thank you

      • Terry Tree Tree

        I mixed disciplines with mine, and changed how many warnings they got.  (little ones quickly learn to count to three!)
           Unless it was a dangerous or serious violation, they never knew how many warnings they got, or what the penalty was going to be.  I usually made it pertinent to their violation.

        • Modavations

          Let us pray that the children don’t end up with the psychological dysfunction of daddy.Picture Munchs’ painting the Scream.Now imagine little Terrys running around screaming Bush did it,Greeedy greeedy rich,The Perverts Priests.Mon dieu

          • Borbinhoek

            word Moda. true dat. Moderific musings!

      • Terry Tree Tree

        When children make you angry, or you are angry from something else, put the child in time-out, or least punishment, until you calm down enough to be  fair?

  • julie

    I am an AMerican living in France. My French friends say ” you americans ” think motherhood is a full-time job. They think we waste to much time worrying about kids. When a French parent says no, it’ s no. My daughter’s AMerican friends say,” keep asking your Mom till she says yes”. I do not know one stay at home Mom in France. All the woman work and have PHD’s.

  • Diane

    Many of the parental behaviors your guest describes sound like the practices of my Southern American parents. 

    Playing outside without parental interference, separate time for children and grown-ups, learning basic manners like “Good morning” and “Hello” to everyone, eating the food that adults ate… All of these were the culture of my family and my extended family.  Children who did not greet guests or a host when they entered a room or who turned down food on a whim, were considered a sign of a bad parenting.

  • Concerned

    Dr. Ferber, who was credited with the “gradually cry it out until they sleep” method, has completely RECANTED and said he would never advocate that babies are left to cry at night. 

    • Ellen Dibble

      I wonder, in families where everyone of necessity sleeps in the same room (small apartments, other countries), whether the youngest regularly cries him or herself to sleep.  Also, if two babies are in the same room, separate cribs, does that mitigate the situation?

    • Sam

       Kids (not babies) will usually stop crying after a few nights of the “let them cry themselves to sleep” method.

      I tried it, and it works.
      After 2 – 3 nights, the crying subsided.

      What parents shouldn’t do is ignore the baby’s crying, because crying is the only way babies can communicate distress, and they could be in pain/trouble/suffocating and you need to attend to them. But once you rule out their crying for physiological issues, it’s ok to leave them to cry themselves to sleep, I think.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        A child that I know, who’s pediatrician reccommended this, had ‘night terrors’, for years, waking up screaming, while older sibling was sang, or read to sleep, slept through the night, except when younger one had ‘night-terror’!

      • Terry Tree Tree

        I enjoyed reading, or singing to my children, to ease them into sleep.  It helped me to calm down, as well as the children.  Their mother left before they were in school, so maybe they needed the extra assurance that one parent was there when they went to sleep, and was probably going to be there when they woke? 
           Would an adult get to sleep easier, and sleep better, if they were lulled to sleep, or HAD to go to sleep?

  • JackAcme

    Last caller wrong: social mobility is lower in the U.S. than France or any other Euro democracy.

    • Modavations

      bull

      • Borbinhoek

        you da man Moda. keep on modavatin’ da masses with your modavitriol.

  • wesley

    Does Pamela know whether the French parenting method helps with Night Terrors in children?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Personally, I think it is causal of Night Terrors.  This from experience with older sibling that was sang to sleep, versus the younger one that was ‘allowed to cry it out’.  Younger one had Night Terrors.

  • Muriel

    Setting limits is definitely a very important part of parenting and parents need to be able to say “no” to children.
    You can love your children and set limits. 
    To answer the current caller:  French children are taught critical thinking from day one!  And there are other options to passing the Baccalaureat.  Today, there is actually more social mobility in Europe than in the US!

  • expatriot17

    I lived in France for a few years when my 3 kids were all under 10 years of age. My observations – without judgement -  were that French parents are less indulgent and protective of their children. For example, I witnessed parents slapping their young child in public to get them to behave or stop crying, and the toilets in La Maternalle primary school weren’t separated by walls or toilets, maximizing ability of the Monitrice to observe at the expense of privacy, etc. Also, you drop your kid at the gates of the school, the gates close, and you get them back at the end of the school day – not the “open school” American concept with parental volunteer participation, etc. Other observations led me to believe it’s a slighter “harsher” parental approach (certainly that I advocate), but maybe not more so than many American families who take the “strict limits” approach. It would be interesting to see quantitative survey results to see whether these observed differences are in fact the norm or anecdotal.

  • BonneMaman

    I am an American and my husband is British, but I  think we have raised our kids very much in the French model that has been outlined here.  Some of my friends are amazed that my kids have never had a tantrum in the grocery store and that they actually go to bed at 8 and stay there or that they eat in nice restaurants.  I have always strongly believed that kids need to know the limits, but also need to have a lot of freedom within those limits.  I think this has made me like to spend time with my kids more than some of my friends do.  I’m not stressed out and annoyed all the time and i do not feel guilty about saying no.

    • Julie

      To be honest, I always took the approach that they are born perfect, and it’s our job to help them grow to their best potential in this very imperfect world.
      I’d say respect, balance, setting clear expectations, no spanking – time-outs and saying no as needed, and teaching them to accept the answer or rationally and respectfully talk to me about why I should change my mind…just good parenting, in trying to raise self-respecting individuals who can think and speak for themselves, are respectful to themselves and everyone around them, can support themselves, and are just a lot of fun to be around.
      There is nothing specifically French about it (my parents were Polish, actually). Just good, loving parenting. My kids have turned into terrific young adults whom I love spending time with and are very successful and loving individuals.

  • Victoria

    Since becoming a parent a few years ago, I’ve been most discouraged by the American toddler diet. When we go out as a family on the weekend to eat, I find it rare that we can get a simple, healthful meal for my toddler that appears on a children’s menu. The food offered (chicken fingers, hot dogs, pizza) are not what we eat regularly at home.  I suppose it is no surprise as I myself find it difficult to get a healthy balanced, flavorful meal that isn’t focused. The diet issue goes beyond children to what we as a society in the U.S. accept as food.

    • Audreywhite

      I totally agree–kids’ menus are horrifying. My husband and I just order regular meals and share with our 4-year-old.

      • Julie

        Exactly what we did…one healthy normal dinner, split between the two kids and left-overs as applied. The restaurants simply want to be sure there are options for the people who do feed their kids the ‘convenient and easy’ way, but parents ultimately decide what to order, from which part of the menu, and from which restaurant.
        In short, if you don’t want junk, make better choices. Let the money talk – it’s the most effective form of influence with any business.

    • Ufpog91

      You are absolutely correct; our overall food supply needs serious attention.  Kids menus are terrible and we always just order a side of Brocolli and some rice for our daughter, but that is not a complete meal either.  Somehow it seems a little easier in an Asian restaurant, but kids menus are terrible.

    • Steve

      I include my children, ages 3 to 14, when cooking at home.
      It is ususally a several hour process.

      We also make an adventure of trying to identify the ingredients I have included in the dinner.

      • Borbinhoek

        incredibly boring input.

  • Vince DiPasquale

    How do Americans see their children as “physically fragile” and    “shield (them) emotionally” while beginning the lives of boys with barbaric genital mutilation?  Vince in Buffalo

  • Tina

    When I’m around my area, I sometimes overhear parents speaking Valley Girl Speak to their children.  My parents sounded like they came from an older generation.  I often wonder:  how much respect can you expect as a parent when you SOUND no different from your children’s friends?!  I KNOW this goes to the point about whether kids have inherent wisdom that might even be wiser than the understanding of their parents; but, I DO think that point only applies within a very “moveable feast” range, and that kids can learn a lot from the knowledge and experience of their parents.  I certainly hope kids will respect their parents.  Can that happen when you speak with the Up-Speak of a Valley Girl (and some men speak that way too!!!)?   

  • Okclaire75

    Is there any data comparing child development? How do parents in other cultures deal with a child with special needs (such as a toddler with an autism diagnosis)? Is early intervention available?

  • L armond

    You don’t need to breast feed forever, when the child tries a little of everything you do.  A little coffee cup with lots of milk, if that is what you are having.  Or even just a spoonful from your cup, if you have infant on lap and visiting with neighbor.  Child sits quietly and listens, too.  For dinner, a little wine in the water.  Child is never left out of any social activity that occurs before bedtime.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    American parents mess up their children in American ways.  Parents in other countries mess up their children in other ways.  The point?

  • Les

    Keeping in mind the differences that are experienced by socio-economic groups around the world…..I would choose to be a child and/or parent in Canada above any of the countries discussed here today

  • Lisa in VT

    I grew up in Sweden and I am now raising 2 children in the US. I am constantly fighting with the American push to have their children ‘perform’ at an early age. Reading early, sports, etc. I find Swedish culture values childhood more and letting children be children.
    Lisa in VT

  • Ellen G

    Generational boundaries seem to blurred.  As a therapist, I have had clients come in and say: My child cries when I say No.  My response is: So? Parents seem to want to be friends rather than authority figues. 

  • Rbshaw58

    i blame early childhood experts who have drilled it into our culture that infants, toddlers and young babies need constant stimulation in order to “reach their potential” – both academic and personal.  And mothers are now “teachers” of their children.

    • http://www.destinationparenting.com/ drmo

      I disagree.  The “constant stimulation” idea is propagated by the media, which take decades of research on, say, attachment, and drill it down into 30 second sound bytes.  Parents take these nuggets (often misinterpreted ones) and run with them.  No child development person worth their salt would say that young babies need constant stimulation!

  • mary

    Ok-this is so annoying. Most French women don’t breastfeed. I breastfed #2 one month-she slept through the night by 6 weeks. Breastfed #3 -he didn’t sleep through the night until 10 months. Boys, girls, breastfed, not breastfed-each child is different. Some just get sleeping through the night earlier. It’s not a French thing. And you can’t let a baby cry it out-when you have older children that need sleep for school. 

  • Sandy

    I have not heard your guest mention that France has one of the best national health care programs in the industrialized world, as well as support for working families.  This can greatly influence
    healthy parenting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-MacEwan/1703424671 Mary MacEwan

    We lived in Paris in the 1970′s while raising 3 children.  The general view among our friends was that French children were very well behaved with their children, but when they were alone in town they were often very unruly.
       Also, we took our children out to dinner often and they ate well and behaved perfectly.  I do agree parents have to learn to  say no when necessary.  Also noticed the play school was less structured and I was impressed with it. 

    • L armond

      That is not being naughty, mam.  It is being mischevious and playful.  

  • Vera

    I ran an infant daycare for 15 years. Most parents have to work and  me and my assistants spent 40 hrs per week loving someone else’s child up to 3 yrs of age. We found that only focusing on positive reinforcement was the most important component to building self confidence and self esteem. This base led to wanting to do the right thing and presented less internal conflicts of feeling bad.

  • Lee in CT

    So interesting to hear about French parents on the playground. In the US, there are more moms hovering near the monkey bars, and their busy criticizing the moms who AREN’T helicoptering.

    • Lee in CT

      They’re, not their.  Oops.

      • Julie

        Lee, I don’t which way I should interpret your comment, because it is either laced with stereo-typical sexist assumption, or you were involved in the coversation (even if by eves-dropping). Which way should I take your remark, and why would you assume that is all moms talked about – as opposed to sharing issues and confiding in challenges, or just enjoying watching our children play? Talking through things and having a network of support makes us stronger individuals and parents.

  • Tncanoeguy

    Regarding safety, we let our 6th grade twins ride the city bus home from school here in Nashville.  Not sure we would have done this if there was just one child.  Lots of folks thought we were crazy.  If anything it was an education for them.  We heard all sorts of stories about the “hobos”. 

  • Concerned

    Is being “well-behaved” really the gold standard?

    I rather have an internally happy child who may not meet this Emily Post standard than a little adult wondering if s/he is meeting everyone’s expectation.

    I wonder how well-behaved Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Margaret Mead, et al. were. 

    Supposedly Margaret Mead’s mother looked the other way when her budding explorer dumped dirt in the middle of her bed to look at the bugs.  A French mother it would seem would be more concerned about dirty hands and improper behavior.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       So long as these geniuses in training aren’t inflicted on me, I have no problem with it.

    • Bob

      It’s not about having an automaton — it’s teaching kids necessary skills to show respect (and, just as important, be repected) in a civilized world. Society has norms we all have to follow. How many parents could get away with an older child running naked around the neighborhood on a hot day? The kid may not think it’s wrong, and maybe there isn’t anything wrong in an abstract way, but current social norms say that it’s wrong. If we uphold these fundamental standards (however arbitrary) of civility, why not teach your kids from a young age? Then when they become teenagers, they will rebel no matter what. Some may stay rebellious, most “grow up” and rejoin our arbitrary cultural standards. But they can’t interact in a polite and proper way if they’ve never learned how.

      As for Mead, make her examine the bugs on a more appropraite surface. No need to stunt creativity just to obey some basic well-intentioned rules (bugs in beds are generally not a good thing — fleas, lice, bedbugs, etc. are not something you want in your bedding– in case it didn’t occur to a young kid, I expect an adult to know that).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-J-Pozzebon/100000025295226 Michael J Pozzebon

    My observation about American parenting is that there almost no difference in the way parents raise children and their pet dogs. Think about child beauty contests – human dog shows?

  • prpinyoc

    Is it possible for the guest to talk about education level of mothers and reflect how to raise a child in other countries?

    • L armond

      Mothers are less isolated in other countries.  Generation mix, at the park, on street corners.  Everywhere is a learning opportunity for parents.  When Americans go abroad, they either learn or everyone stays clear of them, as in “Ca Ca  Stupido Americano, Oui”

  • Audreywhite

    I bet French parents aren’t negotiating job compensation packages for their grown children as they are in the U.S! We’re raising a generation of completely helpless, self-important, chicken-finger eaters.

  • Anonymous

    I love watching my daughter play by herself.  She weaves these incredible stories with her imaginary friends.  She can do this for what seems like hours.  She does have more toys than any five year old needs but that’s more of her mother wanting to give than her demanding.  You have to give your child space to learn, to reason, to become their own person.  You also have to learn to get out of your childs way sometimes. 

  • jon

    How to raise a baby is a straight reflection of personal moral value and social norm like mothers breast feeding. French is the leading liberal culture in the world and it says it all.

  • Laura

    I laughed out loud when Tom asked the author why she wrote this book- all I could think about was the cashing in agenda on the obsession with parenting that she supposedly was arguing or implying needed to chlll out- ie, if parents truly embraced the so-called “French Parenting” they would not waste their time reading this book.

  • KayJay

    Thank you, Tom!  What a great program about raising children! My comment is of a different nature: I was very amused by how carefully everybody formulated their responses.  It was clear that all participants did not want to offend us as Americans.  Very interesting!  It’s very rare to hear a show in which there is so much fear of stepping on somebody’s toes :-)

  • Concerned

    If you like what the Occupiers are doing, it is worth wondering how many of these people as kids were “well-behaved” and following all the older generation’s rules.

    While Mitt Romney was pulling pranks at elite schools his contemporaries were protesting the War.  Hmmmmm…..

    As the bumper sticker says “Well-behave women rarely make history.”

     

    • Bob

      Many of the well-behaved kids I knew either became big troublemakers later and/or became some of the most intelligent and creative adults I know.

      Complete freedom doesn’t spur creativity. If there are no rules, there’s no value in doing something “new.”

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Mine were well-behaved when necessary, and allowed to go push down trees in the forest, when not necessary.

  • Julie

    Two points I wish to comment on:
    1. Gently coaching our children in loving ways is really critical, whether in regards to how to get to slepp or nearly anything else as they grow. Leaving a child (baby) to cry for hours is not good for them and does not teach them to self-sooth. An effective option for me with my children, (that let them settle down while knowing they were not completely alone) was that I would lay them down and sit nearby as they settled, first reading a story or sing a soothing song..on particularly difficult nights, I would stay a while longer just sitting quietly, then letting them know occasionally, in a soothing voice, that “it’s ok. Time to sleep now” until they settled down. Once they settled, I would leave the room.
    The need to stay beyond the story got shorter and shorter until it was unnecessary. This was a great bonding time, and I still cherish those memories – as do my kids. Being there for them in those moments built a foundation of closeness with them.
    2. I also have always spoken to my children as people, respectfully, and expected the same from them. I truly believe this has been a foundation of their sense of self, an element missing from many of our youth. I believe many flounder due to lack of self-respect – the messages they get from the media are horrible. Parenting in such an environment requires we help our children to think for themselves, independent of all of the junk pushing them in the wrong directions.
    They know I am always here forr them and care about who they are, what they think and how they feel. As a parent, I cannot give them a more important gift/lesson than to know they are valued for who they are inside, and that they matter.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      VERY GOOD!

    • Bev

      What a magnificent and thoughtful collection of thoughts.  

  • Tina

    I once asked my mom if what I remembered about my childhood was really true:  did I REALLY spend all day playing in the woods down the street, from about age 2 until kindergarten when the time went down to half a day because of school.  My mom said, YES, I didn’t see you from after breakfast until I whistled for you to come home for dinner, altho, if it were already getting dark, you’d have come home on your own.  Then she told me that the other kids went home for lunch, but I didnt.  So, we neighborhood kids spent all those hours WITHOUT PARENTAL OR ADULT SUPERVISION!  (That’s how safe the parents must have felt our early 1950′s suburban environment was for us.  But, hey! now that I think of it… the father of my next-door-neighbor best friends was from … France!)  

    Also, we did not have television until I was six years old, and then, because it was in black and white, and because there were a lot of adult comedians (I KNOW now that they were probably the great comedians, but they were NOT that accessible to us kids “from the woods”), or, eventually, maddeningly slow-speaking women reading to kids as if they were in a classroom (but a BORING classroom due to the slowness of the pace of the show and, again, the black and white nature of TV at that time — my very own grandmother was GREAT at reading out loud — these TV ladies couldn’t hold a candle to her!), or scary clowns that acted silly — because of all those factors, we didn’t really latch onto the TV that much (until much later when Million Dollar Movie let us see the great movies of the 1930′s and 40′s — even tho they were in black and white!).  Being outside was much more fun, and less “depressing”.  All those adults acting so weird on TV DID distress me enough to make me want to avoid it.  I think of what TV must do to kids’ moods today!  Yikes!  So, today, I look around and see how many whole families gather to watch kids play soccer, etc.!  I’m glad my parents weren’t there to see us climbing our trees — it probably would have made me very self conscious.  And, anyway, we went from one activity to another at will.  All disputes were worked out by One-Twice-Three-Shoot, and no one EVER disputed the outcome of that game of choice/chance!  Apparently, whole families gathering at team sports was happening when we raised our child who is now 30, but I never noticed since our neighbors and friends were similarly uninterested in team sports, but we would take our kids on nature walks at nature preserves, etc., either as a couple, just mom and kid, or dad and kid, or several moms or several couples and kids.  

    I’ve posted some of these memories before, so I apologize to anyone who is tired of reading my stories!  I post them because my generation did spend quite a few of our growing up years without TV, and that makes us different from subsequent generations.  I’d love to hear from folks who grew up before TV entered our homes at all!  Thanks!

    • Steve

      Beautiful memories, no apology  required.
      Also quite a few embedded/valid points.

      During early childhood I grew up in an urban area where generations of families lived in the same neighborhood which was centered around church/factories/cornerbars although certainly not often in that order.

      My friends and I could be out of our parents sight from daylight until late in the evening but we were never out from under the eyes of a caring adult or older child whom the family had known for years.  As a result children were comfortable with their peers and adults.

      In addition to your memories I would suggest that these cohesive, multi-generational neighborhoods have also been diluted by dependence on the car.

       

    • Terry Tree Tree

      I taught mine to climb trees, by example, and assisting when they were young.  Later, challenged them to tree-climbing races.

  • Stevefromnewton

    This was one of the most elitist programs I’ve heard in a long time. 

    What percentage of Americans are concerned with being tiger moms or helicopter parents? How much of this conversation is, in reality, self-congratulatory boasting?The real issues of successful parenting in this country are likely related to socioeconomic factors: How many children and their parents are affected by poor educational opportunities, poor nutrition, poor or absent role models, substance abuse, mental health issues, poor health maintenance, inexperienced, poor and uneducated teen parents, etc? How difficult it must be to try to be a good parent in a neighborhood of crime, or without knowing about proper nutrition, or without having social support, or homeless and without income. In the more affluent suburbs, many of these factors are not present or are at least ameliorable; not so in poor inner city and rural areas. That is not to say that the poor don’t want to be good parents, but it must be far more difficult to do so with the socioeconomic limitations they face.

    Unless and until we address these and other issues, successful parenting may be very difficult or even unobtainable for a large segment of our population.

    • Just Thinking

      I am going to agree with you on one level but not on another and here’s why.  One day, while walking down a busy city street, three young boys came along and broke the fronts of those newspaper machines (where you put your money in and take a daily paper).  I immediately stepped up and told them to stop (now these children were roughly 7, 5, 3 years of age).  The middle child pretended to pull out a gun and did this rat-a-tat- noise as he pointed his finger at me.  A man who had a hot dog stand came running out screaming about parents these days.  I replied, well, parents have to work, and there is so much they have to do, divorce, etc.  The man looked me square in the face and said, “Lady, is that your child?  Are you a single parent?  Do you work?  Then how come your kid isn’t kicking in the fronts of newspaper machines?”  Parenting comes before everything.  I had no money.  But I know more rich people who have no money, and many poor people who have all the money in the world.  Ethics.  It’s that simple, and that doesn’t come with money!

      • Terry Tree Tree

        EXCELLENT! 

  • Modavations

    When I was a kid we chewed on lead paint window sills.We ‘d take the mercury from a broken thermometers and roll it in our hands,our mothers suckled us while smoking butts,all my contemporaries smoked till their thirties.We road bikes without helmuts,we skied without helmuts and on and on and on.None of my contemporaries are any the worse for it.I’ve lost a few to miss adventure,but hell,I hang with partyers..Do you understand this Terry.?

    Europeans,to quote the lady, expect their kids to frolic around Paris,unaccompanied at age 12.Do you understand our points Terry?You and your pathetic bubble wrap kids,mon dieu

    • Terry Tree Tree

      You can see examples of how this did not adversly effect Moda’s mental abilities, throughout this comment page?
         Spelling?  Grammar?  Punctuation? 
         At different times, Moda has claimed a Boston College education, and being now in the second grade? 

      • Modavations

        I’ll try it again.Kids need to be kids.The French woman says get out there my little 12 year old.Have an adventure,you’ll be fine.Get on the subway alone you’ll be fine.Go crawl around the catacombs you’ll be fine.Climb some trees you’ll be fine.Ride your bike sans la casque,you’ll be fine.Smoke some butts(we all did)you’ll be fine.

        Terry I asked Tom A.who used the literary device zillions a few days ago to explain the concept.I know you won’t understand so I’ll explain it to you for the gazillionth time.Just ask.

        • Julie

          Kids learn a lot through play, and adventure, and applying their imaginations. Helmets help reduce head injuries, and we do live in a world where our kids can’t just disappear for the whole day without our knowing where they are, as it just isn’t safe. Period.
          Play, have freedom, but within reason. Frankly, the bigger issue today is getting kids away from video games and television, and spending time outside or actually having fun with family members, talking, cooking, etc.
          You’d be better off focusing on the more obvious issue than what you note above. SImply put,…
          TURN OFF THE TV! 

          • Modavations

            No no you don’t get it.Terry thinks I’m damaged goods because I was a real world kid

          • Anonymous

            No he thinks you’re messed up because you act like a jerk.

          • Modavations

            mORE BELCHING FROM THE PEANUT GALLERY.mAKE A POINT

          • LinZi

            Actually, I think he thinks you’re damaged goods because you describe things like chewing on lead paint, playing with mercury, exposure to cigarettes, etc, which can affect your development. The argument was that your poor spelling and grammar illustrate that you may not have turned out as well as you argued.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Moda couldn’t figure this out?  Guppy must be sick, or in school?

          • Modavations

            Ahh the cocktail hour.Your stalking grows feebler each day.Come up with some new material please

          • Modavations

            and you speak how many languages?

          • Modavations

            Go to “Week in the news” Feb.3.Go to a post by Gregg at 7:18 and read his reply to Terry

          • Just Thinking

            I’m not getting into the battle per se (perhaps by my responding you could say otherwise! :) ) but I don’t think that is what Modivations is saying.  I read it as “living.”  And I agree.  I watch parents now wrap their children in bubble wrap to send them out with a paddle ball – literally, and it’s bull…If children are so delicate that they constantly need a mother standing over them than I think we should think twice about giving birth!  I think kids are durable, and I think the pecking order should be put back into play.

          • Modavations

            Thanks dude,but they get it.They’re picking fights

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Moda gives another impression of me, but my children were allowed to be children! 
               Moda ASS-U-MEs too much? 
              Actually, my children and grandchildren would laugh uproariously, if they read Moda’s statements about my parenthood, on here! 
              I have commented on certain points, and answered comments.  I have NOT told the full story, as it wasn’t asked for.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            LinZi gets it!  Moda’s history makes it difficult for him to comprehend?

        • Modavations

          Let me try it again…
          1.Los ninos no estan tan fragiles
          2.Peut-etre comme ca…Les enfants ne sont pas trop fragiles
          3.i ragazzi non sono troppi delicati

          Terry feel free to answer in your native tongue(I’m semi fluent)”Leftistsi Hystericus”

          • Anonymous

            I think you need a backhoe for that whole you are digging, that shovel is not working very well.

          • Modavations

            wHAT’S THE POINT WRONG SIDE,OR ARE YOU MERELY BELCHIING

          • Modavations

            Hole son,digging a hole,he belched

        • Terry Tree Tree

          I didn’t hear Tom Ashbrook mention that on the air?
              With your record of claiming to be consulted by so many celebrities, and world ‘earth-shakers’, that you have admitted were your delusions, that’s the proof I would accept.

          • Modavations

            I talked to Tom and he said skip it.He said you wouldn’t understand.He said you have issues

          • Terry Tree Tree

            He didn’t say it on the air.

  • Olivemilll

    The French language has a built in form of address: the vous; French parents often request that their children address them with the polite form of you. This also might influence a form of respect for a start.

  • Olivemilll

    Again, the French language requires the proper use of forms of address: bonjour Madame, or bonjour Monsieur.  Not just bonjour; respect starts with language and knowledge of your place on the totem pole.

  • InstinctMama

    I didn’t read all the comments, but wanted to bring up instincts when it comes to parenting. Of course some people have bad instincts, but I have parented my son primarily by doing what feels right to me, rather than depending on a particular parenting style or book. Seems to me every kid is different with different needs as far as discipline, sleep, etc. This doesn’t mean being permissive, but it means paying attention: is he crying because he had a bad dream and needs my help to get back to sleep, or because he is upset about having to go to bed? Just making a rule to never go in to comfort or always to go in to comfort doesn’t make sense. Turns out, my instincts are fairly french. Also want to note an error in one of the written quotes, according to the guest, french women don’t let their babies “cry it out.” They use the “pause” method of waiting a moment to see if baby sorts it out before rushing in, and if baby continues to cry, they go in and help.

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  • Julie

    To be honest, I always took the approach that children are born perfect, and it’s our job to help them grow to their best potential in this very imperfect world.I’d say respect, balance, setting clear expectations, no spanking – time-outs and saying “no” as needed, and teaching them to accept the answer – or rationally and respectfully talk to me about why I should change my mind…Just good parenting, in trying to raise self-respecting individuals who can think and speak for themselves, are respectful to themselves and everyone around them, can support themselves, and are just a lot of fun to be around. There is nothing specifically French about it (my parents were Polish, actually). Just good, loving parenting. My kids have turned into terrific young adults whom I love spending time with and are very successful and loving individuals.

  • Fran Roushar

    This is how I was raised in AMERICA.  My mother put one meal on the table and that’s what we ate.  Parents these days do way too much hovering and babysitting of their kids. Let them grow their wings, cut the apron strings.

  • Roy Mac

    It is so wonderful that anybody who can perform a bodily function becomes an expert.  Plus, she can post her expert opinion on an internet discussion board or even call in to an actual radio talk show.  umm.  Gag me with a spoon.

  • Albertine Disparue

    Mrs. Druckerman is wrong about many things, including that the French don’t physically punish their children. When I was pregnant–and living in France in 2004–I read that 80+% French people spank their kids. That’s why somebody tried to pass a law against spanking, “la fessée”: http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2009/11/15/une-proposition-de-loi-pour-interdire-la-fessee_1267464_3224.html
    Also, while she claims that American mothers/parents are being made to feel very guilty about their child rearing methods, she not only contributes to it, but profits financially from telling Americans what they are doing wrong. I have lived in 6 countries and I can tell you that none of them is perfect.

    • Just Thinking

      I disagree with you.  I don’t think that is what the author is saying at all.  Once again, I think you portray that American guilt syndrome. (Sorry, no offense intended.)  

  • LinZi

    I think the best part of this on point is the idea that all cultures can have different ideas about how to raise a child, and children will be fine. I think comparing and contrasting between cultures helps to understand what kind of parenting aspects are important to us. I lived in India for awhile, and my fiance is from India, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about the positive and negative parts of both American and Indian parenting.

    In India, like the author mentioned occurs in France, children are taught from a young age to properly greet people and use polite terms (like the vous in French, aap is used for you in Hindi for respect, tum for familiar, and tu for children or in intimate situations). Conversely, I have noticed from the families I have interacted with, and by observation (so def. not meant to be generalized to all) that children in India are allowed to just “be kids” in public. Instead of trying to get children to sit still or be quiet at a party, restaurant or at the mall, it is just assumed that children will run around, play, and be loud sometimes. From what I have seen, people feel that as children grow older they will naturally learn how to behave by observing others– and this seems to work just fine. At the same time, I am often surprised at how well young children (toddlers for example) do on long trips in India, often sitting quietly in his or her mother’s lap. I cannot even recall seeing most parents having a supply of toys or distractions for the child, yet the children usually are quiet, relaxed, and content to sit during the trip. 

    Similarly to France, children are not really given the options of special food in India (though it is often made less spicy, without onions, etc for babies and toddlers). Children are expected to eat what they are given. In India making and feeding your child is considered a sign of affection and love, and children are often fed by their parents far longer than in the U.S. sometimes the parent follows the playing child around the house and slips food into their mouth!

    Another big different I noticed (mostly spent with middle-class families in India) was that Indians don’t seem to think their babies and young children need nearly as much STUFF as Americans. Sometimes in the U.S I feel that parents feel pressure to buy the right gadgets for their child– and if they don’t, it’s somehow equated with a lack of love. In India I am surprised to see perfectly happy children without cribs (they sleep with parents), without a highchair (they are fed sitting on the parent’s lap), without baby bath tub (bathed in mom’s arms), without stroller (they are carried, and when older often walk beside mom or dad hold holds their wrist to keep track of them), and so on. 

    Also, many Indian parents give their babies an oil massage everyday– which is considered necessary for the baby to grow up strong. While I know it is not necessary, I do think this can be a nice, comforting way to interact with your baby.

    There are also somethings about Indian parenting that I would not do. For example, corporal punishment is still present (generally a light swat or tap on the child– i would prefer timeouts and explanations). Also many Indian parents dress their baby (from birth) in just thin cotton underpants, which means that the baby often has leaks and accidents (the underpants are changed at this time of course, but having a baby in your bed that could pee at anytime!! Not for me– but I would do absorbent cloth diapers.) Another thing is that Indian parents are often not as involved as American parents in conversation and play with their children (that I have observed). I think it is good to let children have independence but I also look forward to being able to enjoy playing with my children one day too!

  • Zero

    This Be The Verse

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

    –Philip Larkin

  • Ponotte

    I’m a parent in France. There IS kids’ food here! When we get together with other adults we feed all the kids first (noodles, slices of ham, nuggets, petits suisses (sugary yogurt), ficello (string cheese)). Admittedly our kids are all young, under 4, but, still…I do think the kids are a little more adventurous here, but I don’t agree that there’s no kids’ food. Go to any Carrefour (huge supermarket) and there’s tons of it.

    • Just Thinking

      I think you don’t understand what is meant by “kids food.”  Disclaimer – I raised one child in Europe and one ine America…Kids’ food here means Gerber baby food, special kiddy yogurts, processed cheese (you wouldn’t even consider it cheese!).  If it doesn’t have a “kid” label on it, it’s not for kids.  They eat Kraft Mac & Cheese, and parents eat meals!
      My first ate what we did.  If I had fruit, my child had fruit.  If I had cheese, my child has cheese…nothing Gerber!

  • Sy2502

    Several people in the show made a point that I believe is crucial: that kids need to be taught how to deal with negative emotions, like disappointment, frustration, and boredom. I believe parents who don’t allow their kids the opportunity to be exposed to these feelings and to develop appropriate coping skills are doing their children a terrible disservice. We see waves of teenagers suffering with depression, anxiety, and other mental problems, and I wonder how much of that is due to them not knowing how to deal with the tough things in life. 

  • Ethne Gray

    I felt that it may benefit to have had more discussion about the role of father’s — French and American, or from other cultures, — differences and similarities across cultures?

  • Bhcrowley
  • kelty

    test

  • Slipstream

    I am no parenting expert – or even a parent – but I have spent time in France and I enjoyed the program a lot.  There are cultural differences in how children are raised, and that is a good thing.  Vive la difference.  But America is a big place, and less homogenous than European countries are.  These discussions of American parenting all seem to have the unmentioned qualification of “educated, bourgeois” before the word parent.  

    I have noticed that (educated bourgeois) American parents, mothers especially, can sometimes be quite vain, childish, competititve, and conceited in regards to their kids.  THEIR kids have to be constantly stimulated, loved, promoted, have to outperform other people’s kids, should be well-behaved when called upon to do so but should not be denied things they want, etc.  In Europe parenting seems to be less an extension of the individual ego than an age-old practice.  I wonder if there really is a verifiable trend in the USA towards this kind of parenting (clearly there wasn’t always, and is this supposed trend just based on some cultural commentary?), and how much it really benefits the children.

  • Bin

    That is such a wrong way to raise kids. The right way is the AMERICAN way:

    a) Kids must be trained to eat packaged product foods branded with the logos of Fortune 500 corporations. They must grow to be obedient consumers of proven brands.

    b) Kids must be trained to be self-centered. A kid who is not self-centered is not a good consumer, and may grow up thinking too much about freedom, rights and other such garbage.

    c) Kids must be trained to not read and think too much. Our country needs more consumers, church-goers and soldiers. More TV, more corporate-branded entertainment, and less story time is the way.

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