Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The French Method Seems More Like My Method

 . . . At least, according to this book on child raising over there. I was reading this article on Yahoo today, Are French Women the New Tiger Mothers?:

"Parents used to look to doctors for advice on raising kids. Now they look to other countries. The latest contender for the world's best mom is from France. Author Pamela Druckerman's new book, Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, asserts that the Jerry Lewis-loving culture is better at raising children than Americans."

Needless to say this book must be filled with generalizations, but I admit I find the premise intriguing. According to the article, the "French" way seems to be perfectly in line with my idea of how I would raise my own children, were I to have any (and I'm not planning on it anytime soon).

I've always believed in the philosophy of my mother and grandmother, which is pretty much the old-fashioned adage that children should be "seen and not heard." In other words, children should know their place and never, ever talk back to adults. But, to be honest, I would simply settle for teaching them good manners. Wishful thinking, I know, since I don't yet have children and have no idea what it's really like to wrangle them in. Yet I've watched my sis-in-law with hers, and I'm impressed by how well my nieces and nephews are not just in public, but at home when we come to visit as well. And she's definitely not into this new-agey "let's be friends" style of parenting I see in the parks and on the sidewalks of posh neighborhoods here in NYC.

"But there are some things we can teach the world, too. 'American parents are known for putting their children first,' says Newman. 'As a result, children overall feel and know they're special.'"

Uh, yeah. I don't much care for this line of thought. I think kids are coddled too much these days. And if you make them feel *too* special, chances are they'll just grow up to be entitled dick wads expecting the world to fall to their knees at the slightest command. No thanks. We already have enough dick wads in this country to begin with. Let's not feed that, m'kay?

Anyway, yes, my views are easy to hold for someone without children. I've already established that. But what do the rest of you think? I'm eager to know.

I'm also kind of intrigued to read this book now. I don't for once buy into the conceit that the French are better parents than Americans. Or that you can even judge such a thing to begin with. But I would like to read more about what these differences are. I do believe in teaching children a more realistic view of the world, which is that life is pain and suffering and full of assholes.

Hey, it's how I was brought up. And I turned out okay. Uh . . . right?

Yeah, it might best if no one answers that! :)


Botanist said...

I think the ideal is a very difficult balance between seen-and-not-heard/don't-talk-back and make-them-feel-special. You want to teach them respect and manners, and yet you want them to be strong individuals able to think for themselves.

The key, I think, is to adjust your style as the child grows up. Start off firm, then allow them to grow as individuals as they mature enough to handle it. The "let's be friends" part can come as they reach their teens - if they'll still have you as a friend by then :)

But don't listen to me. I'm hardly a model parent :)

David Batista said...

I'm sure you're a great parent, Ian. Your kids are lucky . . . their dad builds them a pirate ship in the backyard! :)

Yvonne said...

I hesitated to comment on this post. Only because the subject is still very touchy for me. But I've re-grouped and now can comment without feeling blah. I don't agree with the whole, "Let's be friends" mentality. It just can't be possible when children are growing up and developing. There has to be boundaries and authority figures. Otherwise those kids are going to walk all over you. Grant it, I have no children, but I do have nieces and nephews. I spoil them rotten because that's what aunts do. But I at the same time, I won't let them run over me. There are lines drawn and boundaries set. -Well, that and my wrath, should they cross those lines. I believe that children should be taught manners, and live by examples. -Good examples and have role models. They need to respect their elders. That's so uncommon nowadays isn't it? And yep, you turned out just fine. ;)

David Batista said...

Yeah, I know it's a bit of a touchy, hot-button topic--especially among actual parents--so I myself was even hesitant to blog about this. But really, I'm only responding to an article written around a book which I haven't read yet. It brought up some interesting issues which correlate with my own observations walking about the city and noticing how certain parents from a range of economic backgrounds treat their children. Where I have a problem is when parents let their kids run all over them in public, to the point that the children are now bothering strangers as well and the parent says or does absolutely NOTHING about it. That just gets me so mad!

Ashe Hunt said...

Yeah, we already know where I stand on this. I'm in alignment with you. It's a delicate balance. Of course, since I'm about to be a parent pretty soon you'll have more research fodder to add to your speculations on this parenting subject.

David Batista said...

That's right, man! Can't wait to welcome Talea into the world! :)

cindy said...

i'm definitely the mean mom among
my more western friends. haha! so i guess
i'm tiger mom. remember, i'm the one that
says WHO TOLD YOU LIFE WAS FAIR? and i'm always
telling them to be quiet and NOT interrupt
when i'm talking to another adult because, dude,
that's just rude.

i think i sway maybe too harshly to seen not
heard? eep! but i try. we all try our best.
i just want them to be well mannered independent

good news: i get compliments ALL the time from
folk (waitresses, clerks at the mall) telling
me how well behaved and polite the bubs are.

bad news: they are holy terrors at home. =p


David Batista said...

Cindy -- Sounds like you're doing an awesome job. Wait, what am I saying? I know you are! :) Your bubs always look so well behaved. Yeah, I get the feeling I would be more like you when it comes to parenting. Keep on rockin!

Jennifer Hillier said...

I grew up with extremely traditional Filipino parents. There was no coddling, no "I'm your friend", no talking back in my house. I think I turned out ok... because along with all those rules, there was a lot of love and support and encouragement. And I always felt safe.

David Batista said...

I find that most people who grew up in such a household, Jen, turned out pretty decent. Whereas I've met some folks who were mollycoddled all the time by their parents and who subsequently grew up to be fucktards. Or at the very least, extremely whiny whenever life didn't go their way.

I'd rather have grounded, self-sufficient children with just that tiniest fear of THE WRATH OF GOD! whenever they think of their parents. :) Yes, parents should be feared as gods . . . and respected as such. So long as they deserve that respect. I know too well that not all do, unfortunately.

Kim Kasch said...

Hummmmmmm. I always believed in reasoning with my kids. Talking to them, explaining why I wanted them to do...or not do...something. They're reasonable human beings after all. But they will be the first ones to tell you that they are spoiled. They just aren't spoiled rotten...

And I never spanked my kids. I took things away (privileges, stereos, computers, gaming gear, etc.) Of course they aren't perfect but I think they turned out pretty well, at least I think that most of the time ;)

David Batista said...

No, I wouldn't advocate spanking either. That's not my idea of effective child raising, although lord knows I've certainly learned that lesson in a very personal way myself. But the key most thing for parents to remember, I think, is to never allow your kids to have the upper hand. If they don't respect you, they'll never respect anyone. Least of all themselves. I already know you did an awesome job with your own kids, Kim. You and Lars both.

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