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Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting [Kindle Edition]

Pamela Druckerman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (781 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The secret behind France's astonishingly well-behaved children.

When American journalist Pamela Druckerman has a baby in Paris, she doesn't aspire to become a "French parent." French parenting isn't a known thing, like French fashion or French cheese. Even French parents themselves insist they aren't doing anything special.

Yet, the French children Druckerman knows sleep through the night at two or three months old while those of her American friends take a year or more. French kids eat well-rounded meals that are more likely to include braised leeks than chicken nuggets. And while her American friends spend their visits resolving spats between their kids, her French friends sip coffee while the kids play.

Motherhood itself is a whole different experience in France. There's no role model, as there is in America, for the harried new mom with no life of her own. French mothers assume that even good parents aren't at the constant service of their children and that there's no need to feel guilty about this. They have an easy, calm authority with their kids that Druckerman can only envy.

Of course, French parenting wouldn't be worth talking about if it produced robotic, joyless children. In fact, French kids are just as boisterous, curious, and creative as Americans. They're just far better behaved and more in command of themselves. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are- by design-toddling around and discovering the world at their own pace.

With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman-a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal-sets out to learn the secrets to raising a society of good little sleepers, gourmet eaters, and reasonably relaxed parents. She discovers that French parents are extremely strict about some things and strikingly permissive about others. And she realizes that to be a different kind of parent, you don't just need a different parenting philosophy. You need a very different view of what a child actually is.

While finding her own firm non, Druckerman discovers that children-including her own-are capable of feats she'd never imagined.




Editorial Reviews

Review

“Marvelous . . . Like Julia Child, who translated the secrets of French cuisine, Druckerman has investigated and distilled the essentials of French child-rearing. . . . Druckerman provides fascinating details about French sleep training, feeding schedules and family rituals. But her book's real pleasures spring from her funny, self-deprecating stories. Like the principles she examines, Druckerman isn't doctrinaire.”
(NPR)

Bringing Up Bébé is a must-read for parents who would like their children to eat more than white pasta and chicken fingers.”

(Fox News)

“On questions of how to live, the French never disappoint. . . . Maybe it all starts with childhood. That is the conclusion that readers may draw from Bringing Up Bébé.”

(The Wall Street Journal)

“French women don't have little bags of emergency Cheerios spilling all over their Louis Vuitton handbags. They also, Druckerman notes, wear skinny jeans instead of sweatpants.The world arguably needs more kids who don't throw food.”

(Chicago Tribune)

“I’ve been a parent now for more than eight years, and—confession—I’ve never actually made it all the way through a parenting book. But I found Bringing Up Bébé to be irresistible."

(Slate)

About the Author

Pamela Druckerman is a contributing opinion writer for the International New York Times and a former staff reporter for  The Wall Street Journal, where she covered foreign affairs. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post and Marie Claire. She lives in Paris.


Product Details

  • File Size: 532 KB
  • Print Length: 298 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594203334
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press; 1 edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005I4JG80
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,468 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
796 of 819 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As is the case with many books comparing American parenting styles with that of other countries, some potential readers have felt opinionated - even defensive - before even buying the book.While I certainly haven't concluded that French parenting is "right" and American parenting is "wrong", this intriguing book deserves a fair chance - one obtained by reading it - but some initial "reviews" were written by people who simply refused to read a book comparing American and French parenting techniques.

So what will will you find in Bringing Up Bebe? What makes this one worth a look?

To start with, the author, Pamela Druckerman, does not come off as someone who is crazy about France, let alone French parenting - at first. As she writes early on, "I'm not even sure I like living here" although she does change her tune later. She came to her opinions about French parenting slowly and she backs up her main points with plenty of research studies as well as techniques she learned from French parents and parenting authorities. As a result she concludes that "the French have managed to be involved without becoming obsessive. " They aren't waiting on their kids hand and foot and they don't assume that they have to push their children to succeed. Even so, she notes that she hadn't thought she was supposed to admire French parenting. So consider her a reluctant convert to French methods of parenting.

Druckerman observes that there doesn't appear to be a relentless drive to get babies and children to various lessons or such activities as early swimming lessons. A neighbor was content to let her children simply find ways to play, often with old toys or perhaps by exploring her outdoor environment.
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391 of 425 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't toss the bébé out with the bath water! February 23, 2012
Format:Hardcover
I have to admit that I did not immediately want to read this book, since the article version I read online seemed very different from my own views about parenting. But my father bought it and lent it to me, and it turned out to be a very entertaining and easy read. Druckerman does a fabulous job building a narrative out of her experience and weaving together personal anecdotes with strong research. As a work of non-fiction, it is highly enjoyable to read and thought provoking.

However, there is no question this book will also be read as a "parenting book" rather than just a "book about parenting." And, it does, at points, venture into "parenting book" territory, even though Druckerman never uses the imperative tense or claims ultimate authority. But, she does consistently present "French parenting" in a very positive light, and in every contrast to American examples, French examples come out ahead. I have very little experience with this culture myself, so I certainly can't judge how consistent this parenting style actually is, so I have to take her word for that. It wouldn't surprise me that a centralized European nation would have a more consistent parenting style than the mish mash of approaches here in the states. Given that "French parenting" is always presented within a very reasonable seeming paradigm of success, there is definitely a feeling of "this is a very good way to do things" throughout.

And, certainly, the ideas that overlap with successful parenting in the U.S. (often called "authoritative" parenting in the states) seem good.
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266 of 288 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book February 8, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I am an active father of young kids. So, when I read the excerpt in the Wall Street Journal, I found Druckerman's thoughts about parenting squared with mine: does parenting really need to be an obsessive, combative and all-consuming endeavor? Is there another way in which parents can be fully committed to our children, teach them independence and even enjoy ourselves a bit.

I picked up the book and devoured it. The writing is highly approachable and even a bit funny. This is not a "how-to" book. It is a series of informed observations about how Parisians approach parenting. Druckerman shares anecdotes and then supports them with some research. There are no magic tricks; just a shift in behavior and approach that the author shares with us. Some of it makes great sense, for example, The Pause and Education instead of Discipline.

Even in the highly connected and flat world, observational skills and analysis of what may right in front of us can force us to reconsider what we do. Druckerman delivers a thoughtful, thought provoking and entertaining book.
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223 of 253 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How can you review a book you haven't read? February 8, 2012
By asketo
Format:Hardcover
A lot of these one-star reviews are from people who haven't even read the book. Like other reviewers, I gobbled up this book in under 48 hours because it's simply that good. It's not a how-to manual. The author is not a doctor or self-proclaimed child-rearing expert. She's not telling anyone how to live their lives. The book is the story of her experience as an American mom in France, and what she learned as a result of her investigation into how the French raise their children. It's funny, charming, well-written--and in the first person. Let the WSJ and Today Show run with hyperbolic headlines if they must. But don't judge the book by that standard.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars everything about children made easy
No nonsense child raising described/ told/ explained in the best, upbeat, well-written way. Also has some very well placed giggles!
Published 3 days ago by a conn
1.0 out of 5 stars I should have really considered the title before purchasing, ...
I should have really considered the title before purchasing, this story was so self absorbed I couldnt finish reading it.
Published 7 days ago by amazonian
5.0 out of 5 stars Sleeping through the night at 7 weeks...
There are many good things I could say about this book, but the biggest is that it got my first kid sleeping 8+ hrs through the night at 3 months and my second kid at 7 weeks. Read more
Published 7 days ago by LisaO
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting philosophies and great recommendations. We've found this to be a helpful guide, and a fun read.
Published 8 days ago by JBK
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Read this last year … Tres bien!
Published 8 days ago by Jane Ferda-Jaxon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wish more American mothers & fathers would read this book!
Published 8 days ago by Suz
5.0 out of 5 stars A very refreshing book, especially now when we live ...
A very refreshing book, especially now when we live in the era of helicopter parents. It definitely supports my ideas of how to bring my own baby.
Published 8 days ago by Zuzana
5.0 out of 5 stars Common sense approach
I liked this so much, that after I checked it out from the library, I bought a copy for myself. It's a very common sense type approach to child rearing. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Michelle Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent
Published 8 days ago by Tamara F.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic book, I really enjoyed her perspective on parenting, and the personal stories she shared.
Published 10 days ago by Alice Mattson
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