French Parenting

French Parenting February 5, 2012

I was up bright and early this morning, thanks to a certain adorable 1 month old baby.  Josie awoke for a feeding at 5:45 am, and decided that it was time to be awake for the day.  Since she had just slept for 7 straight hours, I obliged, went to a very early Mass and I’m now catching up on my google reader.  In doing so, I came across this WSJ article, “Why French Parents are Superior,” which I found fascinating.  It captures my parenting philosophy quite well.  The next time someone is the supermarket asks me how I do it, I’m going to say, “my kids sleep, I mean it when I say no, and I’m not a helicopter parent.”  And in all seriousness, if any of those three things were not true, I’d be insane right now.

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  • Mary Alice

    The sleep thing is a really big deal for me.u00a0 We went through a stretch of having to be up several nights in a row with small problems, and it was amazing how I couldn’t function well as a mother when my toddler was interrupting my sleep.u00a0 nnThis also served to remind me that when I have an infant, as you do now, I need to make sure I have some help in place with the older children, because I can’t do what I do on very little sleep, and for those first few months you are going to be up at night, like it or not.

  • olivia demkowicz

    Sleep!!!!!!!!! It’s all about sleep! And those other things. 😉

  • JMB

    I lived in France with two different families during my college years – and in each case, although I really didn’t care about child raising at the time (I was 19 and 21), I remember thinking that their children seemed very mature for their ages, compared to my younger brothers. Both families were middle class and what struck me the most was the amount of time that they spent together as a family.u00a0 When we went into townu00a0 to go to the cafe at night, for example, the adults would sit with their friends at one table, the young adults at another, and the children would be at their own table in the cafe.u00a0u00a0 I grew up in the typical 70s/80s American middle class environment where teenagers either hung out in someone’s basement or met at a park at night in town and wait for the cops to come and chase us away.u00a0 The last thing anyone did was hang out with their parents and their parents friends in a public place like a cafe.nAs for the eating and sleeping thing, I agree with the author.u00a0 I was able to get my exclusively breastfed children on a schedule and sleep through the night after a few months.u00a0 It used to bother me when I would read that “it couldn’t be done”, especially with nursing, yada yada yada.u00a0 I would have gone insane if I my children never slept at night.

  • Kat

    JMB, I love the idea of our kids spending time with us when they are teens – I hope that we will have good family friends that we can do this with at that point in our lives! I know that as a teen, I loved hanging out with my friends’ parents, and my parents for that matter, but it seemed like most of my peers weren’t so interested.nFor those of you with older children, how have you fostered a family environment where your teens WANT to spend time as a family? Is this a matter of temperament, family dynamics, etc?

  • B-mama

    I’ll add that this French parenting philosophy seems a lot more an American reality when having more children. u00a0I can’t NOT have my babies sleep through the night, it is something I foster early on just to survive (like you mentioned, Red). u00a0 I can’t helicopter parent their every move because there are too many of them. u00a0I HAVE to say “No” often because all of their requests are just not possible to fulfill. u00a0So I will say that the American solution is just to have more kids!! 😉 I knew it was good for us, just couldn’t always articulate why!

  • JMB

    I didn’t realize it at the time when I married my husband “the frat boy”, that our social life would include lots of families and neighbors and hosting many parties and going out to dinner with other couples and families.u00a0 Pretty much every Sunday night we go out to dinner,u00a0 many times we go with other families.u00a0 So the teenagers hang out with us, along with the little kids, although most of our friends don’t have kids younger than 8 or so nowadays.u00a0 I guess it’s true that you make most of your friends through your oldest children!u00a0 I guess in a nutshell teens will stick around if you feed them!

  • Juris Mater

    True that.

  • LaSandia

    In other words, French parents do what American parents used to do before “self-esteem” and being your child’s friend became the unquestioned goals of raising kids. u00a0However, I do have a hard time believing that French toddlers never have temper tantrums and always behave like perfect angels in public–I think the author may have been exaggerating for the sake of argument. u00a0But she does make u00a0some very good observations about the need for delayed gratification even in young children.nnToo bad the French haven’t been “enlightened” by Dr. Sears and the rest of the Attachment Parenting crowd…

  • Juris Mater

    That’s a very accurate comparison between instant gratification and attachment parenting. I’m always so puzzled when people like the Kippleys spin their attachment parenting as “parenting God’s way” and “Catholic parenting”.u00a0