In the course of the past few days, I’ve read more than a few articles like this and this documenting a fresh awareness and debate regarding French parenting versus American parenting. Given my current struggles with being a parent for the first time to a 15-month old finicky-eating, whiny, tantrum-throwing, yet sweet, cuddly, silly and comical boy, it has stuck with me. I don’t want to raise another American brat. I grew up in the South. We said sir, ma’am, please and thank you. We listened to our elders and said sorry when we smashed a friend’s Lego creation. And yet French children as a general rule just know how to behave and entertain themselves, how to act in public and magically still carry on, have fun and be kids.
So I’m nervous when I think about the example I provide and how I guide my child along in life. Getting through dinner in a restaurant without food flying, whining or an all-out fit is, well, rather would be a feat of epic proportions. What 15-month old boy sits still in a highchair for more than .8 seconds? Don’t tell me your little angel does so perfectly because I don’t want to hear that rubbish.
How do we fix that though? How do we “educate” our children instead of constantly disciplining, saying “NO!” or giving them a death glare? Do I feel like I’ve gained a mountain of patience since the little monster arrived? Yes. Do I have terrible days where no amount of patience in the world would seem to be enough? More often than I’d care to admit. I just don’t want my words and actions on those days to outweigh the good, confident, firm but loving messages I think I’m conveying on the other days, and above all things, I want to raise children who are respectful of others. Politeness would seem to coincide, but I hope to have children who think before they speak or act in a way that would hurt others. (Yes, I KNOW, I’m not so good at this sometimes. *diarrhea of the mouth*) Along those lines, I want to enjoy my children, not resent their attitudes and actions. So I’m a little curious about this book, Bringing Up Bébé, which has been a catalyst in the pomme frites vs French fries debate, but not enough so to spend the dough on it. Yet. Cross my fingers, maybe my library will pick it up? Food for thought.