I was desperate for something to read and in a weird mood, so I downloaded Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. As you well know, I am not a parent and have a deeply instilled aversion to most children. I didn’t even like children when I was a child, so I’m not really sure why I wanted to read a parenting book. As I read the book, it sent me into an analysis of my own deeply flawed upbringing. I’m no gushing francophile either, but Pamela Druckerman’s conversational and confessional writing style drew me into her world of raising little Americans in Paris.In reading the parenting guide, I was struck just how few adults (including moi) have learned some of the basic lessons institutionalized in the French child-rearing philosophy. Like what you ask? How about….1) attendre – to wait. According to Druckerman, instead of saying “stop” French parents say “attend” or “wait.” This practice instills a sense of patience in the child and reminds the child that the world does not stop at his or her command. Now how many rude and self-important adults do you know who could benefit from an understanding of this very basic principle? 2) cadre – Druckerman refers to the cadre or framework for French parenting. Essentially, the framework consists of strict boundaries with much freedom within those boundaries. For instance, in France a child can enjoy cake, chocolate, or other indulgences everyday, but only at the designated snack time and in a reasonable portion. Perhaps with a little structure to my eating times I wouldn’t be devouring Chocolove pretzel bars at 10 am. 3) sage – The French prefer their children wise and calm. A kid must exercise self-control as well as be able to amuse oneself. Based on my limited observations, self-control may be the single greatest factor in crafting a successful life. Furthermore, a grown-ass person really has no excuse for complaining of boredom. The French understand you must make your own fucking fun.
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