Bringing Up Bebe

March 4, 2012

ImageBehold the next big thing in parenting, Bringing Up Bebe:One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman.

The only review I read before laying my hands on a copy was by a woman who seemed opposed to the premise at first glance.  And while the reviewer makes many valid points, they were hard to hear over the defensive and smug tone of her piece, which some might say is très Américain.

No one culture or group has the corner on good parenting.  If one did, there would not be such a wide variety of styles among best-selling parenting books.  But you don’t have to look hard to find anecdotal evidence of permissiveness, fueled by an uncertainty of knowing the right way to raise a child.  The reason this book is flying off the shelves is many of us are unsure of how to handle our children.  Otherwise we wouldn’t bother reading it or the many before it.

My own upbringing was very close to what Druckerman admires among the French.  I greatly benefited from unprecedented freedom surrounded by firm boundaries – both a reflection of my parents’ confidence in me.  I fully intended to do the same for my children.  But in the simmering stew of exhaustion, insecurity and the clamor of varied ideologies, I lost my way. Recently, a talented friend of mine interpreted perfectly my state in the image at left.

By nature of divorce and resolving my own difficulties as a parent, I have found my way to a more mature interpretation of my own upbringing, slowly more certain in my philosophy of life and parenting.  It just so happens that this book says it better and applies it more broadly than I have to date.  Just in the course of reading it, I feel more relaxed as a parent.

For all the comparisons of ideas and tactics, the biggest difference this book highlights is the confidence level of women in France versus America and our collective responses to guilt, detailed in the chapter “The Perfect Mother Doesn’t Exist”.  I don’t know how accurate this author’s account is, but I would love for my children to grow up in a society where women revere self-care and manage guilt with the rational understanding of humanity’s limitations.

This is worth a read for any parent.  There is no downside to exploring another culture.  We just all need to put a check on our inclination to put any one of them on a pedestal.

**Special thanks to Paula Castleberry for permission to use Haggard Mother of 3.  You can “like” her work on facebook or peruse her merchandise on CafePress.**

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2 Responses to “Bringing Up Bebe”

  1. brennagee said

    I must buy this book. Perhaps it will allay the guilt of not being suited to be an American helicopter parent.;)

  2. Lauren Marchetti said

    You are an awesome mother and wonderful writer.

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