Cashing in on Unproductive Culture Wars: French Parenting Superior?

If you believe these kids never had a tantrum & always eat what's put in front of them, then maybe I'll tell you another....

As a general rule of thumb, I try to avoid parenting stories that everyone else is already blogging and writing about. Mainly because – well – what else can I add in that isn’t already being said. But earlier this week I got so fed up with listening to Pamela Druckerman wax on about the French superior parenting styles, that I broke my own self-imposed Winter Reading Week theme, and my own rule on “If everyone else is doing it, avoid it,” and instead addressed the blatant stereotypes about American parenting Druckerman is using for her own personal profit in a post for HuffPost.

I think, in part, I wanted to blog on this topic because I have a decent view into other cultures from having grown up living overseas. I actually went to a French preschool in Tunisia and spoke it fluently as a young child. I spent my high school years in Brussels, Belgium. I love so much about French culture. But when I read Druckerman’s interviews about her book – I don’t quite know what she is talking about that makes those parenting styles uniquely French. Instead, isn’t she just talking about good parenting?? I think she conveniently globs on to some stereotypes about American parenting to help get everyone talking about her – and while that might be working – I hope it doesn’t translate into book sales.

And look, again,  I get globbing onto stereotypes about American culture. When I was getting ready to graduate high school and return to the US for college, all I knew about American kids my own age was this: what I saw on 90210. Sure, I thought  hanging out at the Peach Pit seemed like tons of fun but I thought Brenda seemed so bitchy and Dylan was way too cool for school – me and my friends seriously wondered how  in the world we would ever make friends in college – because we assumed everyone here was like that.

But here’s the thing. I was 17.  I was allowed to think everything about Americans on TV was true. Druckerman is a grown woman, and a journalist at

I was afraid everyone was going to be like them....unfortunately we all were probably dressed like this

 that.

My conclusion: good parenting is borderless. What I wish she’d spent some time on is how the vast support given to French parents by the state impacts their parenting style. Imagine having four months of PAID maternity leave, or being able to leave your job for a year and know that it’s kept safe? Or 5 nights in the hospital instead of two (or really one if you are unlucky enough to deliver the baby at 11pm). And don’t even get me started on FREE childcare. I’m pretty sure these things would have a profound impact on everything about me, including my stress level and my patience and how I parent. Wouldn’t that have been great to learn more about?

Here’s a link to my piece. If these Druckerman interviews have annoyed you as much as moi, I hope you’ll read it, I’d love for you to share it on Facebook or Twitter (or both) or comment…or disagree with me – whatever moves you. If it moves you.

Will get back to Winter Reading Week tomorrow. I promise! C’est vrai.

2 Responses to Cashing in on Unproductive Culture Wars: French Parenting Superior?
  1. BB
    February 9, 2012 | 8:00 pm

    Zut Alors!!!

  2. […] Reading Week continues into this week because superior French parenting sort of derailed my theme last week…and so in this time to celebrate what we love, it seems […]

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