When journalist Pamela Druckerman moved to Paris, married a Brit and started a family, she couldn't help but notice how well-behaved French children were. What were French parents doing so differently, she wondered, since their kids never seemed to throw food or tantrums. They ate well-rounded meals with not a chicken nugget in sight. By two or three months old, their babies slept through the night; in Parisian parks, mothers relaxed while their children played, unlike American parents who follow their little ones around the playground, ensuring they don't hurt themselves. Mothers went back to work as soon as possible after the birth, and had no guilt about putting the baby in the "crèche," government-sponsored daycare.
Former Wall Street reporter Druckerman doesn't just speculate about this phenomenon, she writes coherently and entertainingly, using her own experiences raising her little toddler in the French system, and moreover, backs up her findings with eight pages of footnotes, and nearly a hundred sources in her bibiliography.
As a typical American mother, she had to often restrain herself from freaking out about the relaxed approach the French seem to have to parenting, but the more she studied it and talked to parents about it, she realized it was a whole philosophy at work--a very different view of what a child actually is.
This is an utterly fascinating book, a real gamechanger for American parenting. Just as the book French Women Don't Get Fat caused an uproar in this country, surely Bringing Up Bebe will have some of the same effect.
And if you come to agree that French parenting does, indeed, have a lot to offer--(the biggest thing is that it seems to work)--you will realize that you, too, can implement a lot of these strategies with success. As the author says: "Much about French parenting doesn't depend on where you live or require access to certain types of cheese. It's accessible in Cleveland or Cannes. It mostly requires a parent to shift how she conceives of her relationships to her children and what she expects from them."
Recommended by Betsy Schroeder