Having seen this book – Bringing up BeBe by Pamela Druckerman- being featured in various magazines and blogs, I’ve always wanted to buy one. But the risk of buying a book I don’t enjoy and having it sit on my bookshelf to shame my poor taste in reading choice is too great. With this fear, I hopped over to NLB’s easy search website to search for it’s availability and with some luck, it is available at the library near my workplace!
Bringing up Bebe is about an American mother’s discovery in French parenting while residing in France. Her journey began when she realized French kids eat well-rounded meals, are better behaved and in control of themselves. While reading it, I regretted not owning the book, as I love tagging pages I find insightful! So instead, I jotted down some points in my phone for future reference!
Here are some insights and my review of Bringing up BeBe.
- Practicing La Pause: When a baby starts crying, French parents often pause for 5-10 mins before attending to them. This teaches baby patience and gives them a chance to self-soothe.
- Saying Attend: To allow rowdy children to practice self-control, French parents issue a sharp attend, which means “Wait” instead of saying “Quiet” or “Stop”. Instead of rejecting them, French parents allow them to remind calm and wait happily.
- Being Sage: Being sage implies more than be good. It is to behave appropriately, use good judgment and be aware and respectful of other people. It is to imply that the child has certain wisdom about the situation and is in command of himself/herself. It also means that the parent trusts the child.
- Unspoken Baby feeding schedule: Every French parent attempts to feed their child in the morning, noon, at four pm, and at eight pm. This attempts to follow adult’s eating schedule, with breakfast, lunch, tea break and dinner. This is unlike the norm in America / Singapore where feeding takes place every few hours or whenever a baby cries. French parents nudge their children towards the schedule progressively and flexibly, to regular hours that are more compatible with their daily life.
- Getting back their Ligne by Three Months: Most French mums target and are able to get back their ligne (figure) by three months postpartum. It is a norm and an expectation by everyone. French’s secret? By paying a lot of attention in what they eat.
- Gaining back their Pre-baby Identities: Most French mums are physically separate from their children, you will never spot a French mother climbing a jungle gym with their child. French parents will often store toys away from common spaces instead of allowing them to clutter around the living room. French assumes that being a parent is very important, it shouldn’t subsume one’s other roles.
- The Perfect Mother doesn’t Exist: French mothers don’t valorize guilt, they consider it unhealthy and unpleasant, and they try to banish it
- Allow Children to Discover Food: French parent persists in giving different food to children. This allows them to explore food in different colours, textures, smells and tastes.
- C’est moi qui decide: “It’s me who decides”, most French mother says it with conviction. They have authority without seeming like dictators. They don’t aspire to raise obedient robots. To the contrary, they listen and talk to their kids all the time.
- The Cadre Model: It is a firm frame, surrounding a lot of freedom. French parents are very strict about a few things and pretty relaxed about everything else. This makes them seem more reasonable and thus makes it more likely that children will obey.
These are just some examples that Druckerman discussed in her book, Bringing up Bebe. The French has many conflicting principles and few hard and fast rules! If you are confused with what exactly is French parenting, don’t worry, I’m equally confused because it is all encompassing and ever contradicting. This book is smart, funny and it opens my eyes to a French culture so deeply rooted but unknown to the outsiders. Druckerman shares them in a storytelling style that is both engaging and insightful! There are many more fascinating observations in her book, and parents of little children and parents-to-be should definitely read it! People who love all things French should read it too!
Next on my reading list would be Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t get fat!
Oh and by the way, No, I’m not pregnant. Hah.
// All the insights are extracted or paraphrased from the book Bringing up BeBe by Pamela Druckerman.