This article Why French Parents are Superior took over any other ideas I had for this blog today.
First the Chinese are superior and now the French? Was this just a spin-off for publicity I wondered but still clicked on this article, just like I read the one about why Chinese parents are superior a year ago.
So what are American parents doing that sucks? Think about the parenting challenges you face daily and you’ll likely find the answer just like author Pamela Druckerman did.
She saw her child running around a restaurant while she and her husband tried to eat their meal in relay race fashion while the French children sat calmly and realized that many Americans are falling behind in the parenting arena.
Teaching Self-Control: Most interesting to me is Druckerman’s observation that many American parents aren’t focused on teaching their children to be independent, controlled and patient.
A known deficiency in ourselves as adults, Americans like instant gratification. If you watch the accompanying video, you’ll see Druckerman talk about how the French approach food and toddlers. French caregivers introduce a food to a toddler over and over, 30 times or more, long after many American parents would’ve given up. They don’t expect their children to immediately like a food. But more than this, the French approach food and other situations with a feeling of appreciation.
By sharing an appreciation for food and other things in life, they are teaching their children self-control and regulation. Along these same lines is that French parents expect children to play on their own. How many American children can entertain themselves for long periods of time unless they are sitting dazed and motionless watching t.v.?
Educating vs. Discipline: Many other points are stressed in Druckerman’s book, Bringing Up Bebe, coming out soon, which I will likely read, but already, just from this one article/interview this morning, I am already trying to teach Adam to be more patient and I have renewed enthusiasm when approaching my lifetime goal of appreciating things more and teaching him to do so also.
The article emphasizes educating over discipline when approaching our children, which I think is a real key to success in the long run. I found myself using a lot of bribery based on fear this week, “Do this or you won’t get this”, a tactic that worked well but made my stomach hurt just saying it. I am releived to feel encouraged again by the education factor and hope to say goodbye to the intimidation for a while.
Support: Skimmed over in the article but not in my brain is the support that French parents are receiving from their government.
“Of course, the French have all kinds of public services that help to make having kids more appealing and less stressful. Parents don’t have to pay for preschool, worry about health insurance or save for college. Many get monthly cash allotments—wired directly into their bank accounts—just for having kids.”
Wow! I want support like that! It’s like the French appreciate their children and their caregivers as well. Revolutionary.