This was both a fascinating and at times hilarious read. If you are not a parent, do not disregard this book. I am not a parent nor do I intend on becoming a parent but this was a great book regardless. Bringing Up Bebe provides a sociological perspective comparing the values of American and French parenting styles. I truly enjoyed this American expat's take on the study of French parenting and how she tried to integrate it into her children's lives while living in Paris. I found I agreed with much of what Pamela Druckerman described as the French style of firm rules, boundaries, your child joining your world, not the opposite of parents curtailing their lives that sadly seems to include a continuous need to entertain. Other strong tenets of French parenting are no hovering, over analyzing, over-stimulation, constant praise or intense paranoia. Children, even toddlers are expected to adapt, self-sooth, be polite and to participate as a full-fledged member of the family. French parents do not cater to every whim or impatient, bratty want as it causes unhappy children and only worsens the negative behavior. Quite an interesting philosophy to child rearing and in many of the situations described radically different from American parenting.
There were many parts of this book in which I insisted I read aloud to Chris, as they were too funny not to share. My most favorite part was the section when Druckerman observed toddlers eating lunch at the day care. The toddler’s embarked on a four-course meal that included the starter of a tomato salad in vinaigrette. This was followed by le poison (fish) in a light butter sauce and a side of peas, carrots, and onions. Next the two year olds enjoyed the cheese course of le blue and finally dessert of whole apples cut up by the teacher assigned to the tables consisting of four children each. First, the meals sound better then what I eat. Second, the teacher announcing aloud, le poison or le blue is hysterical. Finally, that toddlers have this capacity due to the daily routine and high expectation amazes me.