If you find yourself bored and overwhelmed with parenting “how-to” books, Bringing Up Bébé is a refreshing and humorous change. Author, wife, and mother to three, Pamela Druckerman, is an American who falls in love with and marries a British journalist who lives in Paris. When she becomes pregnant, and after baby is born, she begins to notice a difference in the way French and American children behave. Being a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Druckerman dives into uncovering exactly what it is that the French do differently in parenting.
What is this magical thing the French are doing that is creating kids who are respectful, patient, gourmet eaters; kids that sleep through the night as early as 2 months old, entertain themselves, and are tantrum-free? And why don’t French mothers look as stressed and overwhelmed as she and many American mothers?
When Druckerman begins researching, French parents are adamant they do nothing different or special. As she becomes more accepted into French society, and by Parisians in particular, she successfully uncovers the details of this secret parenting style. It turns out that it’s not simply a change in parenting philosophy, it’s about intuitive parenting, setting strict limits with tremendous freedom within those limits, and re-evaluating ideas of what a child really is.
I picked up the book from the library on a Thursday and had finished it by Saturday. I found “Bringing Up Bébé” so easy to relate to that I had trouble pressing the “pause” button while reading the book so that I could go to the bathroom, pick up my kids from school, and cook them dinner!
What solidified my enthusiasm for the book is that I agree with much of the parenting style discussed and, in fact, had already been parenting my two kids in this way. Shortly after my second child was born in 2005, I instinctively began parenting intuitively and my view of these amazing young people significantly changed. I didn’t know this is what I had done nor did I call it this until reading this book.
I’m also a person who almost always chooses to view life with a humorous lens so Druckerman’s sense of humor was a hit with me. She’s quite open and honest about her own feelings and emotions during this entire journey of becoming mother to three children and adopting (and sometimes not adopting) the French parenting style.
I was inspired, reassured and entertained by Bringing Up Bébé. The day I finished reading it, I decided to have some fun with our meals and do it French style! For the rest of the weekend, I served our 3 daily meals in courses with one afternoon snack. My thirteen year old and eight year old loved it. By changing things up a bit, I even got my son to eat some new vegetables! Our first course for dinner Saturday night consisted of leeks and mushrooms. He simply loved it and asked for more. Even if you only get one nugget of useful information or inspiration from this book, I feel it’s worth your time to read it!
Most Inspiring Lines: When I ask French parents what they most want for their children, they say things like “to feel comfortable in their own skin” and “to find their path in the world.” They want kids to develop their own tastes and opinions. In fact, French parents worry if their kids are too docile. They want them to have character.
Least Inspiring Lines: Despite being the birthplace of Dr. Fernand Lamaze, epidurals are now extremely common in France. In Paris’s top maternity hospitals and clinics, about 87 percent of women have epidurals, on average (not counting C-sections).
Published: 2012 The Penguin Press (hardcover)
Interested in other parenting books? Check out our review on this sleep book!