Via Ruth Franklin in Brooklyn, the “epicenter of permissive parenting” and home of “Shit Park Slope Parents Say,” comes an insightful review of Pamela Druckerman’s new book, Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. Druckerman, an American who lives in Paris offers advice that ranges from blindingly obvious to head-scratchingly unusual:
1. Don’t treat babies like babies. Allow them to “self-soothe” rather than jumping in to rock them to sleep at the first sign of crying. And explain everything you are doing to your baby (not for language learning, apparently, but because the French believe babies have been “eavesdropping in the womb” and so can understand what’s being said).
2. Set strict limits, but give kids leeway within those limits. For example, let kids wear what they want at home, but take off the princess dress before heading to the playground.
3. Be the decider. Step up and be authority figure. Don’t put up with behavior you know is wrong. Remind kids who’s in charge by using a firm tone of voice.
4. Make kids fit the rhythm of the family — not the other way around. French children are born with obligations: to allow parents to sleep through the night; to eat on a regular schedule; and to become independent enough to respectly acknowledge others and entertain themselves.
5. Don’t let sentimentality get in the way of parenting.
6. Don’t give kids so many choices. The “tyranny of choice” paradoxically is disconcerting, the French say, and can cause us to lose a basic confidence in ourselves.
7. Practice the behaviors you want kids to adopt. For example, kids will never eat on a regular schedule if they see your idea of breakfast is grabbing a yogurt while checking your email on the way out the door.
8. If you are pregnant: be calm and sensible. Nail polish and caffeinated drinks will not endanger your fetus. Don’t lecture other soon-to-be moms on their lifestyle and diet choices, either. Take the epidural.
Bonus: Correct other children, particularly those with annoyingly permissive parents. Babies “are rational creatures who will behave in certain preordained ways,” Franklin says.
“The true message of this book … is that the real advantage the French have over us isn’t what they say or do so much as the culture that surrounds them,” Franklin says. -via Ruth Franklin: No Book Will Fix What’s Wrong With American Parenting | The New Republic.