Okay, yes, this is sort of a parenting book, and perhaps not the type of book that you’d generally just pick up off the shelf, but it’s a really interesting read, whether or not you’re a parent. (Of course, since I am a parent, that’s easy enough for me to say – I’m game for pretty much anything that might make my kid more awesome.)
Pamela Druckerman was an American journalist living in Paris when she and her British husband started their family. Druckerman was immediately struck by the differences she saw between American and French parenting, and the resulting kids from each of those styles. French kids seemed, in general, to be calmer, less prone to tantrums, and to eat the same meals as everyone else (the concept of the “kids meal” being practically non-existent there.) American kids, on the other hand, are often more outspoken and confident in school, and… um, that might have been the only plus about American kids.
The book really isn’t anti the way we raise our kids in America, however. It shows both the pros and the cons of the French styles, and lets the reader make their own decision about what we might deem “good” or “bad”. Some things I’d steal from the French in a heartbeat (wine list in my hospital room? Well, hello!) and others I’m less inclined to take part in, like what Druckerman refers to as “The Pause,” where French parents wait for up to 15 minutes before tending to their crying infants, to try to understand what they need.
All in all, this was an interesting read, and I learned not only some new techniques I might try when my little one gets older, but also cultural differences between French and American adults that stem from the way we as a society raise our children.