When American journalist Pamela Druckerman has a baby in Paris, she doesn't aspire to become a "French parent." Yet, the French children Druckerman knows sleep through the night at two or three months old. 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. French mothers assume that even good parents aren't at the constant service of their children and 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.
With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman 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.
Pamela Druckerman is a former staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered foreign affairs. She has also written forThe New York Times, The Washington Post, and Marie Claire. Her previous book,Lust in Translation, was translated into eight languages.
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