Fascinating article in The New Yorker on the crisis in modern American parenting – here’s one tidbit contrasting us with the French:
[Pamela] Druckerman [in her book, Bringing Up Bébé] talked to a lot of French mothers, all of them svelte and most apparently well rested. She learned that the French believe ignoring children is good for them. “French parents don’t worry that they’re going to damage their kids by frustrating them,” she writes. “To the contrary, they think their kids will be damaged if they can’t cope with frustration.”
What’s perhaps most interesting to me about the paragraph above is that most of these French mothers were well-rested. American parenting seems to swing between two extremes: ignoring children entirely due to work or other commitments and then making it up to them by buying stuff, or overdoing everything for them and fawning over everything they say or do. That leads to this other point:
Also key, Druckerman discovered, is just saying non. In contrast to American parents, French parents, when they say it, actually mean it. They “view learning to cope with ‘no’ as a crucial step in a child’s evolution,” Druckerman writes. “It forces them to understand that there are other people in the world, with needs as powerful as their own.”
The article only begs further questions on why parents in the United States feel their children are disadvantaged today and therefore must overcompensate for a cruel economy and society, while the French (and parents in many other developed and developing countries, including my own birth country of India) continue to parent as they have for generations.