The Secrets of French Parents (page 2)
- Ditching the Jitters: Advice for New Parents
- Baby Developmental Milestones: 6 Tips for New Parents
- Reading Homework Tips for Parents
- How Parents Can Help Their First Graders Learn to Read?
- The Ups and Downs of Friendships: When Parents Don’t Like Their Child's Friends
- Tips for Parents: Helping Your Child Develop Communication Competence
- Finding Other Resource - A Newsletter for Parents of First Grade Children
- Social Skills Strategies for Parents and Teachers
- Attention Parents: Your Emotions Are Contagious
Feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by parenting demands? Perhaps you need a little more joie de vivre in your parenting approach. The French are known for their joyful approach to food, but what about parenting? French parents believe that a balanced life is a happy one and don't assume that becoming a parent means sacrificing all. French mamans take a pragmatic, practical approach to parenting. They don't spend their days shuttling children to and from activities or obsessing over which parenting philosophy to follow.
Critics might find French mothers and fathers aloof, distant and cool, but a 2002 study by the International Social Survey Program found that these parents reported higher levels of parenting satisfaction than their American counterparts. Do French parenting strategies really lead to easier and more fulfilling parenthood? Read on and decide for yourself.
Pregnancy and Baby Care. French women seem to worry less than we do. During pregnancy, they don't heed long lists of prohibited foods and may even enjoy the occasional glass of wine. Most—up to 87 percent of women—get epidurals. After birth, French women spend a week in the hospital, resting and relaxing. French women breastfeed but view breastfeeding in public as bad manners. Most switch babies to formula by three months. French parents take one year paid leave after the birth of a child. Usually, parents share this time off. By the age of two months, babies are trained to sleep through the night. Muriel Blanc, French mother and author, says, "It is quite simple. We do not jump and answer right away when the baby makes a noise. We let them have a few moments to settle back in, which means they go to sleep on their own." American takeaway: Worry less and enjoy your pregnancy and baby more. Trust your own instincts and resist the urge to read every parenting book on the market.
Child Care. Most French mothers work and don't feel guilty about continuing their professional lives. One of the reasons for this might be the availability of high-quality, free child care. Government-funded and operated daycare centers, known as chreches, are popular, even among women who don't work. Other parents opt to hire nannies. Grandparents often care for children too. American takeaway: Stop feeling guilty about enjoying your work. It's okay to have a life outside of your children.
Mealtime. The French are known for their love of good food, but a little-known secret to their enjoyment is their restraint. French children eat three regular meals per day and only one snack—no munching all day long. When children arrive at the table, they're actually hungry, which may explain why French children are seldom picky. Here's another secret from practical French parents: French babies' first foods aren't single grain rice cereals or oats, writes Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing Up Bebe. Young babies are served whatever the family is eating—pureed. Babies eat pureed roasted vegetables, braised leeks or even artichokes. French mothers give special attention to teaching children to enjoy and savor each flavor and texture. No mindlessly eating meals while watching television. Meals are still served as courses, and lunch or dinner may take two hours or more. Families eat together and meals are relaxed and enjoyable. French women place high priority on regaining their figures after childbirth. They also subscribe to a philosophy of restraint. Many avoid bread or sweets but indulge on the weekends. American takeaway: Make mealtimes a priority and celebrate good food.
Guidance. French mothers and fathers rarely spank or yell at kids, yet they usually have perfect control. How is this possible? The French view children as little people, capable of understanding and following directions from infancy. Watch a French maman and you'll notice that she talks to her child as one would to an adult. Perhaps expectations create reality. If you believe your 3-year-old is capable of sitting quietly at a restaurant, then she is. That's the method many French parents use to guide children. Blanc says, "A French mother teaches a child how to listen, how to be responsible and does not give in. We explain to our children what our expectations are and we follow through. A French parent is not scared of their children and acts in control." American takeaway: Trust yourself and trust that your child can behave. Consistently but kindly follow through.
Academics and activities. Older French children spend more time in school than American children and are expected to take their studies seriously. Yet, young children are allowed to develop at their own pace. No frantic schedules of foreign language, tennis instruction or structured playdates. French parents expect their children to learn to entertain themselves. American takeaway: Let kids be kids. Boredom isn't fatal.
Traditions and holidays. French families celebrate many of the traditions we celebrate, including birthdays and Christmas. One custom in France and most of Europe is that of the summer holiday. Living in France isn't cheap and most French people work long days. Come August, though, stores and businesses close down and the French go on holiday, vacationing at the beach or mountains for several weeks. American takeaway: Work to live; don't live to work.
Not every French parenting tradition would fly in our culture, but every culture has positive parenting aspects we can learn from. Take a parenting lesson from the French: Let kids be kids and allow yourself some fun too.
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