Saturday, February 11, 2012

"EXCUSEZ-MOI?"

It's certainly not easy reading a book by an author who generalizes that most moms in America stay-at-home in their sweatpants catering to their child's every whim and whine while serving up chicken tenders nightly.

However, I truly believe that, if desired, there are wonderful lessons to be learned everywhere and often in life, and Pamela Druckerman's Bringing up Bebe is chock-full.

Last year I sped through Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and cherry-picked a few nuggets of wisdom, and recoiled at marathon piano practices and discarded Mother's Day cards.

Reading Bringing up Bebe is a walk in a (beautiful French) park comparatively, and Druckerman's French/American comparison shed some welcome new light on parenting and living.

The highlights:

- Babies and children are more than capable of sleeping through the night and it is in the entire family's best interest that all children are "doing their nights".

- The emphasis on healthy food (five fruits and vegetables a day) begins at an early age and raising children with sophisticated palates is a national priority.

-  Snacking (called Gouter) is designated to once a day at 4 pm and is thoroughly enjoyed by all.

- The belief that a child's ability to enjoy playing on their own is a lifelong gift.

- A husband and wife's relationship is never sent to the back burner - it burns bright always and the whole family is happier for it.

-  Children have to say hello and goodbye to the adults they meet because it is assumed they are capable of such respect for elders and are thus on the receiving end of that respect.

- The Government creates an extremely accommodating environment for working mothers including high-quality, free day care and nursery school (gourmet meals included).

Whether or not there are holes in Druckerman's theory as the New York Times or TIME suggests, or that her work is a summary of drastic generalizations (of which it is), I felt empowered and energized as a mother after this read - a good thing for us all.

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