When it came time to pick a non-fiction book for the Baltimore County Public Library Challenge I had quite a list to pick from. But since Mike has hit the ‘trying twos’ and he is in a French daycare, French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian Parenting by Catherine Crawford seemed like the logical choice. I was not disappointed!
Crawford is a Mom in Brooklyn with two kids who were about 4 and 6 when she took an interest in how the French parented. After seeing her French friend parent and observed how polite and well behaved her children were – it was time for Crawford to make some changes to her own family dynamics. She set out to raise her children ‘the French way’ and through the book she shared her observations, discussions with French parents and how her kids reacted to suddenly becoming French. Her writing style is so laid back and honest it was an easy read.
I knew the French, and every other culture, parented differently, so I was curious about what my daycare provider, R., might be practicing with her motley crew. Here are some of the highlights from French Twist:
When the French need a solution to a particular problem, they tend to consult one source, not fifteen different friends or chat-room chums. This has the effect of cutting down on anxiety—and does wonders for just about every aspect of parenting
Hello. You are reading my blog. How did you get here? Probably finding out what I did for infertility, sleep training or how to make homemade baby food. I am guessing I wasn’t your first OR last stop. We are all guilty of that – stop. I would tell you how, but I am still trying to figure out how to do that myself.
Oona and Daphne had to figure out a way to adapt to the adult world, and not the other way around. This is an integral concept in French parenting.
Ah – I loved this overarching idea. But again – so hard! Crawford’s kids were a little older than Mike when she made this lifestyle change. I wish she spoke more to how the transition was, how long it took before it ‘stuck’ and if there were any kid sized meltdowns. We are working on this concept.
In France, everyone in the family has a job. The parent’s role is to be the chief, and the children have the job of obeying their leader. French children are raised with this in mind, so there is much less debate and resistance.
I AM THE CHIEF. I AM THE CHIEF. I AM THE CHIEF.
“Don’t give everything to the baby. Especially remember that your breasts are for your husband.” I love this quote, a little bit of wisdom imparted to a French friend by her doctor after the birth of her first child. I love this quote for what it suggests—and for how hilarious it must seem to nearly every American mom.
One thing that really got me thinking was the topic of breastfeeding. In America, if you don’t breastfeed for as long as possible you are made to feel like a failure. In France, if you breastfeed past 3ish months, you get the same reaction from people. It seems the US is the only country that puts a large emphasis on breastfeeding. We all know how that went for me and I have always been okay with it.
If you are a soon to be parent, new parent or old parent – put down What to Expect and pick up this gem. You will learn A LOT and be entertained.