What Makes French Moms Superior To Us?

By now you probably have heard about the latest parenting book to create a stir. It is called “Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting“. The book was written by American journalist Pamela Druckerman. She was driven to write the book after raising three children in Paris with her British husband.

I have not read the book (I intend to) but have read an excerpt and several reviews. It seems that there is a growing literary genre of “Why foreigners make better parents than Americans”. Anyone remember the brouhaha over the Tiger Mom? Amy Chua, now known as Tiger Mom, wrote a controversial book about the strict parenting styles of the Chinese and how this style has helped create “stereotypically successful” kids. What is it about the parenting styles of non American moms that we find fascinating?

The trend wouldn’t irk me if the underlying message was not always hinting at the inferiority of American mothers. Druckerman asserts that the French style of parenting is superior because they do not allow their children to run their lives. French mothers do not lose their sense of self when they give birth the way American mothers tend to. How accurate is her depiction? Are French moms really better than us?

Druckerman points out that the French children she encountered slept through the night, have sophisticated palettes, and can sit in restaurants contently while their parents enjoy their meals. I’ve got two out of three and I am an American. I can’t possibly be alone. Maybe Druckerman is comparing two vastly different kinds of families to each other? Her sample size is small. It is difficult to make sweeping generalizations about parenting techniques based on geographical location and she might have missed the mark.

I can’t wait to read this book. While I will never be the French kind of mom Druckerman depicts (not judging but I have zero interest in leaving my kids to cry at a young age, not playing with my kids at the playground, or spanking) I stand to lose nothing from learning about different standards of parenting from around the world. This world is becoming more flat and diversity is a great thing. Perhaps by understanding what some of our foreign friends are up to we can learn a trick or two. My daughter is an amazing eater but I wouldn’t mind it if my son would try a piece of shrimp here and there.

Will you give this book a try?

7 COMMENTS

  1. I think that before doing any sort of write up, or review, of a book a person should actually read it first. Much like the hoopla over Amy Chua’s ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ it seems like a lot of the comments and sound bites are from people who don’t really know what they are talking about. In other words they are talking like an authority about a book whose cover they haven’t even cracked open.

    Had you read the book before writing this piece I wouldn’t be as bothered by the tone of annoyance at the “inferiority of American mothers” presented in other books. However, you do not know for a fact that this is the stance Druckerman takes through her whole book.

    Excepts and reviews do not always paint an accurate picture of a book. The most recent example of this misleading portrayal being the hype surrounding Amy Chua’s ‘Battle Hymn.’ Having read Chua’s book I found a lot of the portrayals of her, and her book, to be a bit off the mark.

  2. Hi Grace, as I said previously I understand. The same thing happens to me. The blog post isnt about Chua or I would have gone into more detail. Anyone that is interested in learning more about Chua is welcome to read the book.

    Chua herself makes the distinction between “Western” and “Non Western” families so while I totally agree with where you are coming from in terms of perception the entire premise of her argument is the differences in parenting stemming from her foreign roots not her experiences as an Asian American.

  3. My main concern with this blog is that you are reinforcing the fact that people who have different cultural viewpoints, although born and raised here are foreigners. Just because Amy has adopted the Chinese tradition in raising her children in the United States, does not make her a foreigner. My point is that your blog misrepresents Amy and her “Americanization” status.

    I am born and raised here and am of Asian descent. It has bothered me for years that there is an automatic assumption that I am a foreigner because my looks are not representative of the average American. I do want to pass my Asian cultural tradition to my daughter so she doesn’t forget where her ancestors are from, but I am very much an American.

  4. Vanessa I don’t know. It is a tough issue for sure but one thing I do know is that every single generation swears that the current one is worse than the last. And the last generation raised the current one so who is really to blame?

    I try to look on the bright side and say to myself hey at least we don’t force people to fight in coliseums anymore. That’s *some* progress right? : )

  5. Grace, no generalizations were made. My facts were accurately checked. Chua states herself that she is raising her children in the Chinese tradition not the *Chinese-American* tradition hence my use of the word foreigner.

    Even her book tag line on her personal website states as such: “…revealing the rewards—and the costs—of raising her children the strict “Chinese” way.” Here is the link if you are interested: http://amychua.com/the-book/.

    Also? I am part Chinese and was also born in America. Trust me. I get it. Thanks for your comment Grace and I highly recommend the book. It is a really interesting read.

  6. I think if this generation of American parents spanked their kids (and I mean moderately-I’m not advocating child abuse), perhaps we wouldn’t have such bratty kids. As a teacher, I notice every year the lack of focus and respect toward adults are is increasing. Parents of this generation are so afraid to discipline their children effectively because of ill feelings toward their own parent’s’ style of parenting that children are getting away with more and more out of control behavior.

  7. I think you have your facts wrong when you infer that Amy Chua is a foreigner. Although I find her parenting methods downright crazy, she is a born and raised American. Check your facts before making generalizations.

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