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Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
Published by Penguin Press
Pages: 304
Ages: Adult Non-Fiction/Parenting
Buy It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository
Publishers Summary:

The secret behind France’s astonishingly well-behaved children.
When American journalist Pamela Druckerman has a baby in Paris, she doesn’t aspire to become a “French parent.” French parenting isn’t a known thing, like French fashion or French cheese. Even French parents themselves insist they aren’t doing anything special.
Yet, the French children Druckerman knows sleep through the night at two or three months old while those of her American friends take a year or more. French kids eat well-rounded meals that are more likely to include braised leeks than chicken nuggets. 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. There’s no role model, as there is in America, for the harried new mom with no life of her own. French mothers assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children and that there’s no need to feel guilty about this. 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. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are- by design-toddling around and discovering the world at their own pace.
With a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, Druckerman-a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal-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.
While finding her own firm non, Druckerman discovers that children-including her own-are capable of feats she’d never imagined.

Sitting quietly through a meal at a five star restaurant is seemingly an activity intended for the most well-mannered of adults, not children. For French families though this isn’t only a regular occurrence, but something expected from birth. With conflicting ideas on every topic revolving around parenting in the country of her birth, the US, Pamela Druckerman goes searching for the explanation that rests behind the myths of French parenting. Their seeming ease with their children couldn’t possibly be as simple as it looks or can it?

Without any doubt in my mind Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman is the “holy grail” of parenting. Much like Druckerman mentions in her book, I’m the typical American parent. I’ve devoured every book I’ve been able to get my hands on, spent hours trying to determine what is the very “best” for my children at every stage and have also spent countless hours awake at night trying to attend to the needs of my children. Needs that I may have imposed on them because of my near constant worrying. Druckerman not only addresses sleep issues, but everything from snack time to playtime to eating out. Her writing is superb, balanced and completely engulfing. This is a parenting book I wish I had before my first son was born and will be handing out to all I know with children.

Much like Druckerman herself, my first child was raised with my ever constant supervision and subsequent lack of sleep “schedule”. He has thus been deemed the non-sleeper in the family and at almost five years old he still struggles to sleep through the night. My daughter on the other hand is the exact opposite. Having heard a bit of advice around the eighteen month mark of my son, I look back wishing I’d heard it sooner. Simply stated it was that you should treat your first child as though you already have a second child in the home. Very similar to the knowledge Druckerman garners in her early investigative efforts, by the time our second child arrived we had also unknowingly “learned” the technique she refers to as “The Pause”. This technique isn’t really a technique at all, more an ability to attune ourselves to the true needs of our children and not what we merely think they need. What I noticed from my first to my second child was that I relaxed a great deal and my attentive nature became more what it should have always been. Not that I wasn’t paying attention to my son, but perhaps I was too attentive.

What I appreciated the most about Druckerman’s observations throughout the book was that she was not usually overly judgmental of a particular method of parenting, but that she presented all sides and expressed her interests in exploring more. On a whole the majority of the chapters were set up with an opening that involved either her own experiences or those of her friends, some French & some American, which was then followed by an explanation of how the French & American would typically handle the situation along with her research and closed with her thoughts. It was balanced, educational, most often involved some hilarious situation and always very well written. In most cases I found myself jotting down notes to discuss with my husband later and potentially attempt to incorporate into our own family.

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman is by far one of the most well written and informative parenting books out today. With a deluge of parenting how-to’s from the internet to meeting groups to books and more it’s hard to know when your head might stop spinning. It’s nearly impossible for me to imagine a parenting book being a page turner, but this is certainly one I’d firmly announce as one. Druckerman’s take on French versus American style parenting is dead on and not in a way that makes the reader feel like she’s harboring a negativity she’s yearning to get out. Bringing Up Bébé helps shed light on why exactly it is that the French seem to not only have the most well-behaved children, but also why their birth & mortality rates are some of the best in the world. Thankfully Pamela Druckerman took the time to look behind the mysterious walls of French homes to discover the structure and creativity that blossoms in these wonderful families and the children they love.

The1stdaughter Recommends:My go-to parenting book! Without a doubt the most balanced and well-written book on the subject and one I’ll be recommending to all parents, soon-to-be or currently.

Find Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads

Thank you so much to the publisher, Penguin Press, for providing a copy of this book for review via TLC Book Tours! Connect with author Pamela Druckerman on Twitter and on Facebook!
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14 Responses to Book Review: Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman

  1. Amused says:

    Well this is good to know because I’ll be honest when I saw her on the Today Show promoting her book and wearing the ubiquitous beret I kind of rolled my eyes but this actually sounds like one I should keep in mind for a someday book!

    • How funny! I hadn’t even seen the spot, though I normally watch the show. I must have just missed it. (I did just go watch it right now though and I can see the point about the beret. To each their own, right? lol)

      Still, this is such an excellent parenting book! I can’t stress enough how impressed I was by it. If only by accident my daughter has been raised in a more “French” style and my son more “American” and you can clearly see a difference. I’d highly recommend reading it, especially if you are thinking about having kiddos in the future. 🙂

  2. I first heard about this one in the Wall Street Journal.
    I quickly raced to my library website and placed it on hold.
    I’ve heard mixed reviews of it but I can not wait!
    It sounds totallllly up my alley.
    I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad to hear you liked it.

    • You absolutely must read it! It’s really well written and like I said, I didn’t feel like she was shoving a negative opinion down my throat. Very balanced. Having said that, I think my parenting techniques are pretty similar to what she discusses, so maybe I just liked it more for that reason? Who knows? But it’s definitely worth a shot! 🙂

  3. I can’t wait to hear more about “the pause”.

    So what did you do different with your daughter?

    • You should definitely pick this one up! I actually thought about you while I was reading it and wondered how things were going?

      With Littlebug it was more that we were incredibly more relaxed with her. It helped that I already had a very demanding almost two year old and it just took longer to get to her if I heard her. Often, by the time I was able to disconnect myself from Turkey she had “gotten over” whatever was niggling at her and had fallen back asleep. I say it took me “awhile”, but in reality it ended up being like an extra three or four minutes. Which is basically what the author of this book mentions as “the pause” time frame. You give them a chance to make that connection that it’s okay to fall back asleep (at night or during naptime) and they quickly learn how to do it all on their own. It changed everything about the way she reacts to life in general. It’s fantastic. I only wish I’d been more relaxed with Turkey.

  4. PragmaticMom says:

    I always thought that French children could sit through long meals at restaurants because their parents gave them watered down wine. Sounds like a fun read.

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  6. The holy grail?! Wow, what an amazing recommendation! Just for that I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  7. Anya says:

    After such an excellent review, of course I just HAD to go and check it out. Very very interesting. I think I missed my chance to raise my kids “French” (they’re 6 and 3 already), but it’s good to be reminded about “common sense” parenting.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book!

  8. […] “Druckerman’s take on French versus American style parenting is dead on and not in a way that makes the reader feel like she’s harboring a negativity she’s yearning to get out. […] Druckerman took the time to look behind the mysterious walls of French homes to discover the structure and creativity that blossoms in these wonderful families and the children they love.” There’s a Book […]

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