Saturday, February 4, 2012

French Parenting

The article, "Why French Parents Are Superior" by Pamela Druckerman had some interesting points.

"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.""

Due to the nature of my parents’ jobs, my family spent a lot of time at social gatherings, at other people’s houses, and in the car. My brother's and my behavior was constantly on display, so we were under a lot of pressure to “play by ourselves and not bother the grown-ups” (mentioned as a virtue in the article). I was often bored out of my mind, but oh yes, I was well-behaved.

"American parents want their kids to be patient, of course. We encourage our kids to share, to wait their turn, to set the table and to practice the piano. But patience isn't a skill that we hone quite as assiduously as French parents do. We tend to view whether kids are good at waiting as a matter of temperament. In our view, parents either luck out and get a child who waits well or they don't.”

Because of my childhood, I have chosen to focus more on my son and what he wants/tolerates versus what would be convenient for me. Just how much patience should I be training him to have, and at what cost? I don’t want to crush his spirit with excessive demands, but it would be nice to be able to sit through a church service every now and then. Even though I probably would have been considered very patient as a child, I am not good at delayed gratification as an adult, which I think is an equally necessary skill.

I overheard someone say that it's easy to sell parenting books to Americans because we're so insecure about how we raise our children. I'd have to agree that I often question if I'm making the right choices, or if we're spoiling Raccoon too much. It's funny because it seems like we would parent him like our firstborn (which he technically is), but actually we're parenting him more as our fourth child. This means hands off unless we absolutey have to step in since our first three wore us out. I was super strict with #2 and #3, but definitely choose fewer battles with Raccoon... Maybe I just need to move to France. Ha ha.

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