French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment In Parisian Parenting
Genre: Memoir, French parenting, Non-Fiction
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviews (via Random House)
Publisher: Random House, 2013
ISBN: 9780345533265, 240 pages
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Catherine Crawford had an epiphany one night when her French friends came over for dinner along with their two, very well-behaved children. Catherine then realized that French children are overall more obedient, patient and mature than American children with hovering parents. She set out to find out the secrets of French parenting and apply them to her own family’s life in New York.
As an new mom and a person obsessed with all things French, I figured this book would be right up my alley. Unlike Bringing Up Bebe byPamela Druckerman and French Kids Eat Everything by Karen le Billon, French Twist is a take on French parenting in the US, with US rules and customs. Unfortunately, this book didn’t really provide me with any insights on how to incorporate French parenting techniques.
For all the potential this book had, it really, really fell short. I think the biggest obstacle for me was Crawford’s pose. It felt like the book was written by a very energetic 5-year-old who wants to tell you everything they learned in school that day in less than 5 minutes. I think the book could have benefited from more editing. Her style was filled with a number of asides, very few details and massive amounts of generalizations. After having completed the book, all I took away from it is that she “got French” and her life is more serene when dealing with her children.
Some may like Crawford’s chatty style and will connect with her very New York personality, but for me, the gap was too wide. Of the three books, French Kids Eat Everything provides the most balanced analysis between US and French parenting, but Bringing Up Bebe, particularly Bebe Day by Day, provide the most succinct and repeatable advice on French parenting.
Bebe Day by Day: 100 Keys of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
Format: Book, Non-fiction, Parenting
Publisher: Penguin, 2013
ISBN: 9781594205538, 144 pages
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Fans of Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bebe might feel inclined to pick up this follow-up book. To that inclination, I say, DON’T! The 100 tips in this book are basically the same exact topics and points she brought up in Bringing Up Bebe. The only difference is that this smaller and shorter book doesn’t have any of the biting criticism of American parenting, nor does it really discuss Druckerman’s life and experiences in Paris as an ex-pat parent. If those two elements appeal to you, then be sure to pick up Bringing Up Bebe. Otherwise, this short little guide through Parisienne parenting is all you need to feel like a Francophil parental unit. This book also includes a menu in the back of meals served at the French daycare centers, the creches.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the tips are helpful, and now that I have my little one, I plan on implementing whatever French tips I can. They just seem logical to me. I don’t know if its my French bias, or just because it’s very similar to how I was raised. On the whole, they are very minimalist in nature. A lot of it is about raising a self-sufficient child, and many of the concepts remind me of the Montessori education method of child-rearing, with which I heartily agree.
Some of the tips that stood out to me are the following (my commentary is in purple font):
#14 – Don’t stimulate her all the time
#17 – Make vegetables a child’s first food
#19 – Baby’s are noisy sleepers (ie – don’t run to the crib/bassinet every time you hear a noise, gurgle, or squawk).
#28 – Don’t solve a crisis with a cookie
#32 – Everyone eats the same food
#53 – Give kids lots of chances to practice waiting
#96 – You’re not disciplining, you’re educating