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Showing 1-10 of 1,037 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,283 reviews
TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 7, 2012
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.

Meals are also handled differently with set times for eating and with children being expected to exert enough self-control to wait hours in between meals. Vegetables, varied types of cheese, and other foods American kids might snub are not only served but actually eaten.

Then there are the studies. They are certainly food for thought and perhaps some spirited debate. One study notes that mothers in Columbus, Ohio find child care twice as unpleasant as mothers in Rennes, France. There is the University of Texas study that concludes that French mothers aren't concerned with accelerating their children's cognitive development or academic achievement. Instead, they are comfortable with letting their kids simply be children while they still can. The author cites another study which indicates that 90 percent of fifteen-year-olds eat their main meal with their parents - compared to 67 percent of those in the United States.

The author took detailed notes as she observed French parents. She learns that they expect their babies to start sleeping through the night within no more than a few months - or even in the first month. They ask Druckerman if her baby is "doing her nights" (sleeping through the night).

Admittedly, a certain number don't...but a fair number do because their parents use "the Pause" , not responding immediately to a baby's cries. When Druckerman tries using "the Pause" her own baby starts sleeping through the night, although...to be fair...she does wait until her baby is more than a few months old, unlike the French parents she describes.

Even infant mortality rates are lower in France, 57 percent lower than in America. There is an emphasis on a calm pregnancy and not eating too much. This doesn't mean starving but an overly obese mother isn't necessarily serving a baby's health. I won't stress this point too much because there could be many other factors that determine the possible difference in infant mortality rates between one country and another.

To sum it up, the author has discovered the "wisdom" of French parenting and has written a book that seems to be aimed at imparting that wisdom to American readers. Druckerman also seems to be encouraging parents to try and change the way American parents perceive children,to not base their lives so much around the kids. To be clear, the parenting advice here is centered on children, not teenagers, as French teenagers are given more freedom but in Druckerman's view also seem to have less cause to rebel.

I did have some issues with this book. The first chapter has far too much info about Druckermans' career before moving to France as well as her time meeting and dating her husband-to-be. This takes up an entire chapter. I wanted to get to the parenting observations more quickly. The book consists mostly of personal observations and Druckerman's parenting experiences which are also peppered with interviews with such people as the French "Doctor Spock" as well as other experts. I'm sure it will be controversial and from what I've seen and read it already is. Even so, this book deserves to be judged based on its contents.
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VINE VOICEon August 17, 2015
Not the first book I have read about French parenting, 'Bringing Up Bebe' is a more documented and thorough review of the French style.

Reflecting on my own, my parents and other relatives, friends, and observations of strangers...you get to see it all.

Have some French friends going all the way back to elementary school and remembered what I had observed.

My own established style that syncs with the French:
Exposure to different and healthy foods.
No soft drinks.
Eating together at established meal times.
Not over scheduling activities: sports, enrichment, lessons etc.

Things that I cannot espouse to via the French style:
Sending my children off from a very young age to a nursery and preschool to have someone else establish the deemed appropriate behavior.
Camp away for a week or ten days for the very young with no real assurances of competence, safety, etc.
That a child develop such autonomy early.
That the government and French society seem to think as one.

It is my experience and desire to instill children with competence, decision making skills, respect for oneself, others and their own mind and body.

It is my continued aspiration to maintain my relationship with my spouse for its uniqueness and love.

However, this book did reinforce, present some interesting parenting advice...and again...made me reflect. Lots of good conversation with other parents ensuing.
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on March 3, 2016
Although, the book is written from the point-of-view of a middle-classed couple living a precious life in Paris, it's actually a very good book. I will say that the author's story-telling can be tiresome and a little dull at times, but what I gained from the book was a sense of practicality, logic and insight into some excellent techniques in raising a baby. I would definitely recommend the book as a guide for raising a baby but I would not recommend it as an entertaining biography/memoir read.
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on March 4, 2012
The marketing for this book was so flawed; until I read the sample I assumed it was a parenting manual. It isn't. It's more a cross between a very good parenting memoir and an anthropological study of the upper-middle-class Parisian parent. I'm sure Ms Druckerman had an inkling of the minor firestorm any "critique" of American parenting would ignite, but let's be fair. To fully implement the techniques described, one would have to move to Paris. This is, of course, impractical and even the author found it difficult to throw off her own cultural practices to fully embrace the ones used by her French peers, which she readily admits. The American examples often seem to be parodies of, well, American neuroticism (hearing any mother say "I'm only as happy as my least-happy child" might prompt the reply, "please feel free to not share any other masochist practices you might engage in"), but I have heard some doozies dropped from the lips of some sleep-deprived mothers. It helps that Druckerman's writing itself is breezy and engaging. And, frankly, sometimes it's nice to be reminded of the basics - be calm, be patient, and, above all, be the parent. We may not have the French creches or maternelles (the image of twenty-plus identical crayon drawings did strike me as tres creepy), but there is no reason our children can't "awaken" and learn respect and self-reliance. And maybe, using some of Druckerman's advice, I can get my kids to polish off their haricot verts, too. Ahhhh, a parent can dream.
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on April 21, 2017
Very interesting book. Some people may just like the end where she offers the 100 take-aways from one culture to the next, but I thought the book was interesting in how she experienced that and even how, being immersed in French culture, her kids still picked up American habits. All in all, it was a good read.
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on December 18, 2015
This book has been revolutionary for me. I always thought that having children would mean sacrificing my entire being in every way from sleep and figure to sanity and dignity; that is the typical American mindset. I didn’t know there was any other approach. But lo and behold, according to Ms. Druckerman’s firsthand observations, French parents completely and consistently hold onto their own lives while raising children who are also extremely well-behaved when compared with American children.

How, you ask? Read the book! But the core of the matter, as I understand it, is that the French view self-care as fundamental. They take care of themselves above all (as in, “please secure your own oxygen mask before helping someone else”), and they purposefully but gently teach their children from the very start how to take care of themselves—how to endure waiting and solitude; how to restrain, comfort, and entertain themselves; and how to make pleasure and leisure as important in their lives as work.

THAT is the kind of life I want and the kind of parent I want to be. Now, I'm actually looking forward to having children rather than dreading it as a death sentence for my personal wellbeing.
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on February 11, 2015
This is a very interesting book that demonstrates cultural differences between Americans and the French as to our parenting styles. The French seem to be a bit saner than us, to be frank. Americans are over-indulgent. French children are not the center of their parents' attention, generally speaking. As a result, children appear to be better behaved. I think the book is very thought-provoking and worth a read.
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on February 17, 2014
My wife and I were disappointed with all these prebaby books. There was a lot of opinion in most and the rest were based on survey data. Pamela observes what she is not happy with in her upbringing of her child and compares it to the way the French do it but connects it with strong data and research that researchers from France and the US have done. We feared it would be just a big, "French do it better" book but it turned out to have strong suggestions that helped us as new parents. From the principles in the book our daughter was "doing her nights" (sleeping through the night) from 5 weeks old and still sleeps 11-12 hours as a 15 month old.

We highly suggest reading this.
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on October 12, 2016
Very comical and a pleasant light read for an expecting American woman with European proclivities. It has some great little ideas for parenting, like The Pause, where you don't immediately go to the baby at the earliest cry, but allow them a few moments before attending to the baby. The nursery at the hospital where I delivered also has a very similar policy- The Three Minute Rule. If a baby starts crying they start to time it and allow the baby a chance to self sooth and settle down. If after three minutes they haven't settled, then tend to them. I have been using The (3 minute) Pause with my newborn and it's been very effective. Sometimes she just cries for a minute and stops- if I had run over right away I wouldn't have given her a chance to learn to self-sooth. I don't believe that a minute of crying is harmful or scarring.
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on April 23, 2015
This book was recommended from another new mother. I read it and also recommended it to a few moms-to-be. The concept of the book is a refreshing step back from what's become a somewhat standard culture of modern American parenting (arguably, of course). I love how the author tackles different topics and does her own social comparison with (perhaps the most extreme forms of) New York and Parisian parenting.

There's a lot of great ideas for American parents (or parents-to-be) who want their children to be more disciplined, well-behaved, less picky eaters, better infant sleepers, daycare friendly, etc. The back of the book offers tips on what the reading covers, which was good for me who was taking lots of notes.

As with all reads, there is no pure "Bible" on parenting, but this just offers a refreshingly different approach for those looking to explore a non-traditional parenting style found in the U.S. Oh, also, the author touches a lot on parenting as a more enjoyable role in France, which I also loved. As a soon-to-be parent I like the idea that guilt shouldn't impede with my right to some peace and alone time (and husband/wife time) now and then.
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