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Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting Hardcover – February 7, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,128 customer reviews

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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 former staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered foreign affairs. She has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Marie Claire, and appeared on The Today Show and NPR's Morning Edition. Her previous book, Lust in Translation, was translated into eight languages. She has a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia. She lives in Paris.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; 1 edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781594203336
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594203336
  • ASIN: 1594203334
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 7, 2012
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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is not a how-to book, and yet, after reading it, I feel suddenly equipped to face all the many daily challenges my 20-month-old daughter throws at me. The thing this book made me realize was that I am already equipped with the necessary tools. I was just too afraid/confused/exhausted/frustrated/hopeless to use them.

What caught my attention about this book was Druckerman's assertion that Americans tend to blame a child's good or bad behavior on temperament, whereas the French assume patience can be taught to anyone. I often say, "My child has been this way since she was two weeks old." She's always been a very alert, active, charming, rebellious, impatient child. I believed it was my fate to never be able to take her in a store without enduring a temper tantrum. I was mostly hopeless that I would ever be able to control the force of nature that is my child.

Then I found Druckerman's book. I stayed up until 3 a.m. reading it because the middle of the night is the only time my child lets me get anything done. Aside from the parenting stuff, it was a fun read, an expatriate memoir (which I always enjoy) with a sense of humor and a gossipy inside look at the lives of other parents of toddlers from the U.S. and France.

But what makes me rate this book five stars is the parenting information. The French (or the segment of the French population Druckerman is describing) all share one philosophy on parenting, which boils down to teaching patience, not hovering, not feeling guilt over every little thing, and having confidence. Something about the idea of ONE philosophy made me feel so relieved. I've read about every kind of parenting philosophy there is, to the point that I almost never had confidence I was doing the right thing.
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