Bringing Up Bébé by Brittany Nelson
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Have you ever seen kids running wild in a restaurant and wondered if it’s possible for them to sit quietly without playing with an iPhone? Apparently it is! I recently read New York Times Bestseller, Bringing UpBébé, a book written by an American author who discusses what she learned about French parenting while raising her children in Paris. She offers insight on the differences in parenting styles, including why she sees French children behave so much better in restaurants than their American counterparts.
France has a much different parenting culture than in the United States. Instead of focusing so much on the children and their activities, they believe that children fit into the family’s pre-existing structure. They don’t stress over baby milestones, refuse to spend hours each day driving their kids to a hundred different activities, and keep consistent date nights.
Although I don’t agree with some of the parenting techniques discussed, like not feeding your baby during the night even if they’re hungry or the anti-breastfeeding culture in France, this book was both insightful and entertaining to read. There were several parenting ideas, in particular, that I found interesting. Here are a few takeaways from the book:
The Pause – French mom’s don’t automatically stop what they’re doing to tend to their child. Instead, they do the Pause. For infants, this means waiting a few seconds or minutes before picking them up when they cry. For children, this means telling them they have to wait because mom is busy finishing a task or speaking to an adult. This can cause a little bit of frustration for the child, but the French think this is important for development. Frustration allows children to learn to entertain themselves and find their own solutions, better preparing them for adulthood.
Meals – French parents serve food in several courses and children are trained even as babies to sit quietly and wait patiently for each course. They serve the vegetable course first when the children are hungry because this makes it much easier to ensure they eat enough greens. They also only allow one snack a day in the afternoon, so children are always ready to eat at meal times.
Greetings – While most of the author’s American friends focus on teaching their children please and thank you, her French friends go a step further and also focus on greetings. When their children arrive at someone’s home, they are required to say Bonjour to the adults before they can go and play. When children exchange hellos and goodbyes, they are showing respect to the adult and tend to be better behaved during their stay.
I’ve tried to implement some of these techniques for my infant. For example, the Pause has been very helpful for me. I used to pick up my baby right away if he cried, but pausing a moment has helped me learn what his different cries mean.
Thanks to this book, I have tucked away little parenting nuggets to help me be a better mom as my baby grows up. Even when I disagreed with the author, it helped me cultivate my own parenting style.
If you are a parent or enjoy reading about different cultures, I’d highly recommend reading Bringing UpBébé!
Brittany Nelson is the co-founder of GWG. After many years of volunteering in international ministry, she became excited about helping other young women discover their passion. Brittany is a Jr. HR Generalist at a consulting firm in the DC area. She spends her free time exploring DC and going to Washington Wizards games with her husband, Paul.