Monday, May 28, 2012

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, Pamela Druckerman

Author:  Pamela Druckerman
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Random House Audio
Edition: audiobook
Reader: Abby Craden
Source: Library
Setting: France
Date Completed: 5/2012
Rating: 5/5
Recommend: yes

I finished this audio book about a month ago, and it was awesome. It's one of those books, I picked up on a whim, and never expected to love it as much as I did.  Sometimes when this happens, I put off doing a review for a long while, feeling like I can't possibly give the book a good enough review.

The author was a former Wall Street Journal reporter who after leaving her job, moved to Paris to be with her new love, Simon, a British Journalist.  The couple marries and she soon finds out she is pregnant. Being that her first baby will be born and raised in France,  she sees herself at a definite disadvantage even before the baby is born. She doesn't ever speak the language well, her family is in the US, and although she has never raised a child, it is already obvious to her early on that French parents do things differently beginning when the infant is only a few months old. 

For example, French babies are eased into the family's routine, and the parents do not rush to always pick up the baby when the baby first starts to whimper.  Parents believe that by do this early on, teaches little ones to wait, teaching them early on self-discipline, which leads to calmer children later on. The French claim that this helps the babies to "do their nights" (sleep through the night) quicker as well. Very important as most French women who worked before their pregnancy do return to work within a few months after the baby is born.

Another observation by Druckerman was that French toddlers and their parents for that matter, seem calmer and more relaxed. Her observations revealed generally pleasant eating out experiences for parents and child. She notes how, early on young children are eased into the (3) meals a day plus a snack routine. A routine that fits the life of the family.  They eat what the parents eat early on, and even seem to enjoy fish, meats and vegetables and other grown up foods that some American children might turn their noses up at.  American children are offered many many "choices" according to the French way of thinking.  French children are not allowed to snack at random times of the day.  Another difference that I was surprised by was the fact that while many American parents are constantly praising their little ones, every time they do something that pleases the parents, French parents are not as generous with their praise, their goal being is to raise calm children, educate them and to teach them how to behave properly. 

There were many other observations that made me stop and think as well. I liked this book, because it was not one-sided. It did not depict either American parenting or French parenting to be the best way to raise a child. Parents are encouraged to take hold of their own lives, and by doing so they will raise independent, well-adjusted children. I liked that the author's findings were based on a lot of observation. From child-care settings, schools and even parks and even play times.  The story is written in a humorous and engaging manner, that captured my interest early on. You don't have to be a young parent to enjoy this book.  The audio reader, Abby Craden did a great job. Loved this one.


  1. This book has been getting a lot of attention and I am curious about it. We lived in France years ago and, at that time, parents were calmer, but the children were pretty rough at the school my son went to. I don't remember seeing many children in the restaurants we went to, so if they were there, they were obviously behaving fine. I think the biggest problem with American parenting is that parents have become competitive with each other.

    1. Kathy, that is a good observation about child rearing here today -- time to get back to basics.

  2. I wouldn'r have guessed from the title but it actually does sound interesting!

  3. I really liked this one, too. Have you read Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother by Amy Chua? Also entertaining.

  4. It does sound very interesting...I wonder what French parents would say about the parents at the ball fields in America? Not only are the parents competing with one another, but many of them seem to want to be kids again...weird.

  5. I read a very extensive summary of this in the New York Times or The Wall St. Journal, and was very impressed with how easily children can be taught to act differently if they are just brought up differently - even just the snacks thing. I love that all these books are coming out now on parenting techniques in different cultures - so interesting!

  6. I read a newspaper article on this book. Yes, it does sound interesting, not only that, it's very relevant indeed! I mean, after Tiger Mom, I'd like to see what other views there are, albeit I'm way past this stage now. The author seems to have offered a happy medium. And, listening to it must be most appealing. I'll definitely look for it in the library. Thanks for posting this review, Diane.

  7. The concept of this book thoroughly intrigues me.

  8. I read this one and want to get it for my niece who is expecting in June. But one of my blog friends who lives in France says French kids aren't quite so perfect as they are painted in this book.

  9. I am very curious about this one, as I attended a lecture about parenting over the weekend, and it mentioned some of the same things that this book seems to reference. I would love to read this book back to back with a book about attachment parenting. Very nice review today!

  10. I love books that compare parenting styles from around the world. It is good to know that this is balanced. I may pick it up one day.

  11. I think there is some good advice here … it sounds more "parent friendly." As always, I wish I was hearing this stuff BEFORE I had my kid! ; )

  12. I really want to read this one. I'm not a parent yet, but I think it's fascinating to see how parenting styles vary with different cultures.

  13. First I've heard of this book but a co-worker and I were just talking about babies raised in Europe and how early they are introduced to "eating out" and that the same can even be said for pets! LOL. He just came back from Berlin and said that all of the babies and pets...both seen in restaurants all over were so well behaved and calm.

  14. Even though I am childless, I am eager to read this book (and am in the loooong line at the library waiting for it!) I read an interview with the author that really impressed me. I'm so glad to see you loved it so much!

  15. Huh. I think I missed the boat on raising a calm child and he's only 19 months!

  16. hmmm, this sounds very interesting. While both my girls have started out calm, I don't think anyone would say Claire is calm now!

  17. I have wanted to read this book since it came out, but as a non-parent (intentionally!) I think it'd be a little weird.


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