a book review: bringing up bebe | simply love
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a book review: bringing up bebe

excerpt from the back of the book: 

“marvelous… like julia child, who translated the secrets of french cuisine, druckerman has investigated and distilled the essentials of french child-rearing.” —npr

when american journalist pamela druckerman had a baby in paris, she didn’t aspire to become a “french parent.” then she noticed that french children sleep through the night at two or three months old. they eat braised leeks. their parents sip coffee while the kids play by themselves. and french kids are still boisterous, curious, and creative. why? with a notebook stashed in her diaper bag, druckerman realized that the french don’t just have different parenting philosophy—they have a different view of what a child actually is. in this deeply wise, charmingly told memoir, druckerman recounts how she discovered that children—including her own—are capable of feats of understanding and autonomy she’d never imagined.
-reading on our back porch with a pumpkin cupcake from starbuck's-

i recently read the book, bringing up bebe, by pamela druckerman and i am dying to discuss with you. we had a really great discussion during my october book club and i wanted to share some thoughts/things i walked away with... she is an american mother of three, who moves to paris with her british husband and shares what she learns as she observes french parenting- and how this helped her to better raise her own kids. as i read, i agreed with almost everything i was reading... i know i don't have any children of my own yet, but have been around kids my whole life and was in awe reading this book - it was pretty much my philosophy on paper. it all made sense to me. both when watching kids and as a middle school teacher, i yearn for more calmness/patience with kids and less competitiveness/rushing around. in fact, i have found that approaching situations at school in a calm/assertive way is much more influential than being loud. another key part of the book was about how french parents don't dwell on guilt and don't call themselves 'bad parents' for not doing small things... they feel like they are doing a good job. i feel like guilt can kill relationships- it's a dangerous feeling.  druckerman mainly seems to be interested in learning how to discipline her children just enough so that she can get her own life back. “in france i regularly see what amounts to a minor miracle,” she writes, “adults in the company of small children at home, having entire cups of coffee and full-length adult conversations.” it’s hard to blame her: as she spends her nights miserably awake with her crying daughter, she is amazed to discover that her friends’ babies all sleep through the night; as her kid throws food in a tantrum, she watches in awe as other children sit contentedly through three-course meals and as her son treats the playground gate as a dare, she is baffled by the sight of other toddlers happily playing in the sandbox. 
*however, there were two things i did not agree with in the book: their lack of effort/belief in breastfeeding and the fact that women have around just three short months to get rid of their baby fat before being criticized and pressured by others. 
 

there are so many things i would love to discuss, but here are a few that stood out the most to me: 
you can teach your child the act of learning to wait. yes! oh.my.gosh- yes. i have been thinking this for years and totally agree. i have two cousins {i look up to both of them very much} who are so calm and patient; they both listen to their babies/kids and take time before rushing over to them the second they start crying. they talk to their kids like human beings - like people. and their kids are amazing: very calm-natured and independent. in the book, druckerman talks about waiting a few minutes and really trying to figure out what is exactly wrong first.  i could not agree more with this concept. it can certainly be frustrating to be around a crying baby, but sometimes they are just re-adjusting or are uncomfortable and don't have an actual 'need'. sometimes these actions can make the situation worse/can wake them up even more... making them more reliant on their caregivers and less able to sleep on their own. pamela writes: “it is why the french babies i meet mostly sleep through the night…their parents don’t pick them up the second they start crying, allowing the babies to learn how to fall back asleep. it is also why french toddlers will sit happily at a restaurant. rather than snacking all day like american children, they mostly have to wait until mealtime to eat and are therefore, hungry." (french kids consistently have three meals a day and one snack around 4 p.m.) while reading i thought, this totally makes sense?! instead of snacking all day and not being hungry for a meal, they are hungry and ready to eat dinner. she would see french children sitting in restaurants eating three course meals of fish and vegetables. in addition, a [french mother] delphine said that she sometimes bought her daughter pauline candy. (bonbons are on display in most bakeries.) but pauline wasn’t allowed to eat the candy until that day’s snack, even if it meant waiting many hours.” this idea of waiting has been proven in studies to improve the child's overall outcome later in life, which was also fascinating to read about. 
+ you can have a grown-up life, even if you have kids. she talks about how when she hangs out with american parents, they are chasing their kids around the house, are demanding that they all have to eat at a certain time for dinner, they are on the floor playing legos with the kids... while when she is with the french parents, they are enjoying coffee/cocktails as their kids play- on their own. they aren't tugging at their parents' pants legs and aren't whining/demanding their attention. pamela writes: “the french have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. they assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this. ‘for me, the evenings are for the parents,’ one parisian mother told me. ‘my daughter can be with us if she wants, but it’s adult time.’ “ {again i hope we can have a balance and i hope to parent without being completely neurotic- really praying for this. haha} and i know kids demand a lot of attention and energy... but teaching them the importance of playing on their own is something that i feel is important.  
+ believe it when you tell your child “No.”  i feel like my parents did a very good job with this... no meant no. however, it was not overused. i think that can be key. questioning them about that word was completely off the table. my dad tended to bring up the fact that he had never {in his entire life} told his father 'no' {and my grandpa lived to be 95 years old} and that his kids were not going to do it either. it was a big one in our house- but it brought more trust, an openness for discussion, and a desire to overcome challenges for my sister, brother, and i. and trust me, they don't come calmer than my dad. it's extraordinary how calm he is- seriously. or patient. and i think his calmness brought more respect. pamela writes: “authority is one of the most impressive parts of french parenting—and perhaps the toughest one to master. many french parents i meet have an easy, calm authority with their children that i can only envy. when pauline [a french toddler] tried to interrupt our conversation, delphine [her french mother] said, “just wait two minutes, my little one. i’m in the middle of talking.” it was both very polite and very firm. i was struck both by how sweetly delphine said it and by how certain she seemed that pauline would obey her…i gradually felt my “nos” coming from a more convincing place. they weren’t louder, but they were more self-assured.” *again, i personally notice this with teaching... you don't have to yell/raise your voice to get your point across. in fact, kids respond much better to a calm authority and clear directions. 
+ kids can spend time playing by themselves, and that’s a good thing. pamela writes: “french parents want their kids to be stimulated, but not all the time…french kids are—by design—toddling around by themselves….’the most important thing is that he learns to be happy by himself,’ she also talks about how american parents try to sign their kids up for every sport/activity, put them in pre-school at a very young age, and want their kids to reach milestones so much earlier than in france. i have thought for years, i truly think that toddlers {age: one, two, three} should be playing. simply playing.  they have their whole lives for structure. druckerman said her and her husband noticed in the french daycare system {which is totally different and absolutely amazing.} that there were just toys- no centers, music circles- just toys for the kids to play with. kids either went to pre-school around four or five {or many didn't go at all.}  i spent my childhood constantly playing. playing and creating make-believe worlds with my sister, cousins, and the kids in our neighborhood... yes, my parents played with us-- they read to us daily, we prayed together every single night before dinner/bed, we took nightly bike rides together as a family for ice cream/around the lake in my hometown... but when i look back, i played on my own/with my peers - so much. and i remember those times so fondly. i think this helped to make me more creative, independent, imaginative. 
again, i am just now entering parenthood... and absolutely can't wait. i hope to enter parenthood as calmly as possible and hope to be strong enough to parent in the way we both desire; the way we feel best works for our family. {trying my hardest to take advice knowing they are meant with love, but that ultimately, mr. monaco and i have to decide what is best for our kids} and in the end, many of the parenting philosophies in this book seem to fit my morals, demeanor, personality... and just seem more like common sense to me? 

in america, women can feel guilty for carving out time for themselves and letting babies play on their own and i hope to have a balance that works for our family. there obviously is not one way to do things and every situation will be different- there will be challenges and successes- but i loved seeing what i believe in being discussed in such a well done and even humorous way {i admire her writing style very much!} 

now the trick: incorporate these french philosophies within an american society- hopefully successfully- and without guilt- knowing i am working hard to always do my very best. 
do you agree with these parenting approaches? what do you agree/disagree with most? would you like to read the book and discuss with me... i would love that. 

wishing you a wonderful weekend!
any exciting plans?
...
linking up with:  
Rebecca at XOXO Rebecca
Jennie at The Diary of a Real Housewife


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19 comments:

  1. This book sounds really interesting. I'll be adding it to my To Be Read list.

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    1. it really is! thank you so much, cori! happy reading

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  2. Totally agree it's important for a child to learn how to play with themselves! I feel like it helps teach them how to deal with boredom, imagination, and creativity!
    www.amemoryofus.com

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    1. yes! i agree with everything you wrote... it was a huge part of my childhood and i feel like it's being lost a little. thank you, darcy!

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  3. This sounds like how I've raised my kids so far. Except I breastfed. =)

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  4. Great review! I've heard a lot about this book (both good and bad). It's interesting to see how many different styles of parenting there are.

    Molly and Stacie

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    1. thank you so much! it was interested and i loved it! hope you're well, molly

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  5. Guilt is such a slippery slope. We are WAY too hard on ourselves as parents. We definitely need to cut ourselves some slack. Sounds like a great book!

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    1. it really is. it's an awesome book and i couldn't agree more! hope you're week is going well- thanks for the love

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  6. YES! I just finished this one and have the same thoughts. It was so good!

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    1. ♥ so good. thank you so much!! glad you felt the same way

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  7. I’ve heard this book is the immediate go-to for any mama to be and I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed reading it. It’s on my list of books to get as I near the third trimester. Thanks so much for sharing, Nelle! :)

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    1. you are so welcome and hope you enjoy it! it's really good and hope you're feeling well, too!

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  9. I loved this book too! So funny! I also disagreed with their breastfeeding stand, and I am no where NEAR my pre-pregnancy body from 3 years ago! It was a fun read though, and I tried the "pause" on my son and it did NOT work!

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    1. it's so good and sorry it didn't work- obviously these aren't for everyone but so many great points! hope you're well and thank you for stopping in

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  10. I bought and read this book a few years ago when we first started trying to have kids but also because we were going to Paris and it seemed like the perfect book to bring with us! I was a psychology major so I also enjoyed it for those elements. I think the biggest takeaways is French parents believe their kids can do things..they truly believe they can be patient, kind, polite etc. It's like going in with good expectations. It's why I ate the phrase "boys will be boys." No! Boys will be boys if you don't expect them to be able to behave. My brothers were not loud and destructive.

    I also liked the chapter on framework.

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    1. I totally agree with everything you said... patient, kind, and polite are so important to me {esp. the first two!} it was def. interesting! thank you for your thoughtful feedback ♥ i loved my visit to paris! so cliche but so romantic, dreamy and beautiful- loved.

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