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Q&A with Pamela Druckerman - author of French Children Don't Throw Food. Post your questions - ANSWERS BACK

(110 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Jan-13 12:27:07

If you've ever sat in a restaurant and wondered why french children are so well behaved and seem to eat whatever is put in front of them then you may considered whether the french way of parenting is the way forward. Pamela Druckerman's latest book French Children Don't Throw Food is described by Amy (Tiger Mother) Chua as "Smart, funny, provocative, and genuinely eye-opening"

Pamela Druckerman is an American journalist who found herself living in Paris, with an English husband and three young children. As she struggled with sleepless nights, toddler tantrums and other demands of being a new parent, she couldn't help but notice that the French families around her seemed so much calmer and less harried than her own. Their children played quietly, they weren't picky about what they ate and, when the time came, they went to bed without fuss, leaving their parents to enjoy some all important adult time.

So Pamela set out to discover what it is that French mothers do differently and - it seems - so much better. She not only observed her French friends and neighbours at first hand, but also interviewed scores of French mothers, teachers and child experts.

If you're interested to read more, enter our draw before the 9am on Monday 21 January to win one of 50 copies. Pamela Druckerman is joining us for a Q&A, so please post your questions or comments to Pamela on this thread before the 31st January and we'll post up her answers on 8th February.

OhGood Thu 17-Jan-13 12:32:26

Lovely offer, but I had better decline, as I am worried that DD will throw food on - or up on - the book.

BeerPlease Thu 17-Jan-13 15:15:15

I read most of your book. It seemed to me that some of the French 'parenting secrets' are to breastfeed as little as possible, get your child into full time nursery care as soon as possible, to whip back into a svelte pre-pregnancy state as soon as possible (no cake?!shock) and not to feel guilty about it. Oh and not to complain about your other half if they don't do anything about the house, because you accept they are a 'different species' who just aren't programmed to pick up socks!

This is what many parents do as regards work etc (some by choice, others because they have to). It's not unusual and I don't see how this can be held up as some kind of French parenting 'secret'.

Please feel free to correct me, if I've misunderstood the book! smile If it was to document your time there and point out the differences, maybe it should have been marketed differently.

tarantula Thu 17-Jan-13 15:24:23

Maybe I've been to the wrong parts of France but the kids there seemed to be just the same as the kids over here (have seen French toddlers tantrumming in the local supermarket and in restaurants etc.) and the parents seemed just the same too, certainly weren't all well dressed, co-ordinated etc. like people seem to think.

Maybe it is just a certain small group of French parents that are like this.

duchesse Thu 17-Jan-13 15:30:14

As a Franco-Brit myself with family on both sides of the Manche, I can think of a few choice answers to the author's rhetorical questions. But I'll wait to form an opinion until after I've read the book, if I'm selected to receive it.

Eskino Thu 17-Jan-13 15:32:53

Kids are kids. I've lived in France and this idea is a big fat lie. There are parents there who scream and yell at their kids and feed them crap, just like anywhere. Why do we get child rearing books shoved at us constantly? The only difference with the French is that they would make a hmm face if you tried to sell them a book on child rearing.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Thu 17-Jan-13 15:36:16

As a Brit who lives in France I could think of reasons why French children wouldn't throw food, most of them are fear based.

Very different parenting styles, often with much rougher parenting.

Not sure we should be looking at French parenting styles to improve our own.

TheCrackFox Thu 17-Jan-13 15:46:41

I've been to rural France quite a lot and didn't see any actual evidence of better behaved children.

When DS1 was a toddler my father and I spent a fairly unrelaxed lunch at a nice restaurant in rural France, working hard to ensure that DS behaved as well as the impeccably well dressed little (French) girl at the next table. He was a credit to me....

But I had to stop telling him to copy the nice little French girl when (after pudding) she slapped her Granny. Agreed, I didn't see any food being thrown, but am pretty sure that I don't want to encourage that sort of behaviour. grin

LeBFG Thu 17-Jan-13 17:48:42

I wonder how much of the books anecdotes are Parisian-centred? Lots of cliches which are said to be true in Paris, I've just not observed in my neck of rural France. I see fat kids/mums, rude kids, kids misbehaving etc. I haven't read the book, but the question in the title can possibly be answered by the nounou. Everyone I know sends their DC to childminders and these experienced women are keen on rules. My DS now drinks perfectly out of a cup and always goes to the table to do so and to eat his biscuit whereas I just let him run a bit wild.

helpyourself Thu 17-Jan-13 18:07:49

I've entered the draw. I'm very interested in the concept of French parenting after a Damescene moment a few years ago.
I spent many holidays as a child living in France with a French family, was still in touch with them and slightly in awe of the order and way they were bringing up their children. However having taken my dcs to stay with them we all came away rather shell shocked. What I remembered as old fashioned, sophisticated order struck us now as almost abuse. Five course meals for toddlers, smacking for failing to get to the loo in time, etc.
I've stopped all contact.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Thu 17-Jan-13 18:15:52

Oh and not sure I'd want to read the book, based on the synopsis.

Risette Thu 17-Jan-13 19:01:51

I haven't read the book either, so I don't know how limited or extensive Pamela's knowledge of french family life is.

I live in France and one observation is that when I go out to restaurants the 'menu enfant' almost always consists of chicken nuggets or a steak haché...

Having said that, I do think that the school canteens here offer a pretty sophisticated menu for young children.

As regards to play and bed time, I don't think there's any marked difference.

DialMforMummy Thu 17-Jan-13 19:15:49

I have read the book and enjoyed it.
I can see why the title would get some people's backs up though.

I have found that quite of what has been written is actually what I have observed (lived in France 20 odd years). I thought it was refreshing and gave it as a gift to a friend of mine.

I remember getting off a TGV in Paris, after a long journey, and realising that it was packed with children, whose presence I hadn't been aware of. I was highly impressed!

I can't see anything morally wrong in "breastfeeding as little as possible" or going back to work, you know, people work on the continent, we don't tend to have benefits otherwise.

TheCarefulLaundress Thu 17-Jan-13 20:25:04

Hello Pamella - where in the UK did you see children throwing food in restaurants? I've never witnessed this myself.

mrsbadger2 Thu 17-Jan-13 20:40:00

I took my children out for dinner the other evening with some friends. I was pretty embarrassed by their behaviour. They couldn't resist mucking around and were hard to control. I could not help thinking that if they had been French they would have known how to behave, eat nicely and calmly and converse with adults in an adult environment. I think the problem is that here, everything has to be made child friendly-church services, restaurants, any form of entertainment really. I don't think it is too much to expect children to be bored and have to put up with a situation , on occasion, that does not revolve around them. So yes, actually, I am interested in reading this book.

Kenobi Thu 17-Jan-13 22:15:12

LeBFG, CrackFox et al - The book is entirely about Parisians. It should actually have been entitled "Middle and Upper Class Parisian Children Don't Throw Food".

I did enjoy it, and I thought a couple of tips were good - 'Le Pause' when dealing with babies, and the staring thing, which also works quite well, but I think only if they respect you in the first place.

My major issue is this: Pamela, the thing is about these lovely polite French children is... they grow up to be Parisians. Famously rude, cold and snobby. Is this a good thing? (I'm only half joking I'm afraid)

Also, to my mind you slightly pedal back on how tough Parisians are with their kids, and how much they reward uniformity - or did you not find this?

Kenobi Thu 17-Jan-13 22:16:33

fedUp that's hilarious!

Craftbox Thu 17-Jan-13 23:08:25

I read this book in the summer, whilst I was pregnant with my first and found it massively helpful.

It gave me the confidence to let my baby cry just a little whilst I observed him to see what he might need. I now have a 3 month old who is sleeping through the night most nights and who is able to settle himself. He is a happy contented baby and we as parents are often commended for our calm approach towards him.

I can throughly recommended this book. As with all parenting books, you need to sift through and see what works for you.

NonnoMum Fri 18-Jan-13 15:30:38

I'd like to read the book.

We often host foreign students and recently had a (child-free, married, late 30 something) French student. My children ran rings round her at breakfast. She would visible wince when the (accidently) let out a little burple or two at the dinner table.

However, they did pick up something from her. Now, when I need them to be on their best behaviour for something (funerals, random church-services, restaurants) they say, Don't worry Mummy, I will be good, I will be French.

reallyyummymummy Fri 18-Jan-13 21:16:45

French children may not throw food. This is very true. However, I am sure there are other universal truths about the French, most notable for me is that,French adolescents don't know how to behave when their parents aren't around. They go Wild. I have seen them in London - pushing into queues, being really noisy on trains and buses. Think it sounds like a load of supercilious crap to me.

Merrylegs Chile Fri 18-Jan-13 21:41:17

I've read the book and I enjoyed it.

I think if I had read it when my kids were little I would have taken on board some of 'maman's' tips - eg 'le pause' and 'attendez'.

I think she is comparing Parisians and New Yorkers mainly.

She talks about Americans 'narrating' their child's play.

There's a great bit when she observes a US mother following her child around a playground "You're climbing the slide! You're swinging! Caleb you're stepping!"

(I really wanted Caleb to turn around and say 'no shit, mommy. Now back off')

And the way American (and British often) parents follow their kids round with snack boxes and try and feed them when they are happily playing - 'do you want a breadstick? Some apple juice?'

Whereas the French parents Leave Well Alone and the kids eat at very specific times.

Of course these are generalisations, but it makes for an entertaining read.

(Actually I think her observations were more relevant ten years ago when smart phones weren't so prevalent. Now Caleb's mom really doesn't give a shit about narrating his play or if he's stepping because she's head down in her iphone FBing her virtual friends)

TheCarefulLaundress Fri 18-Jan-13 22:52:04

The French mothers were probably too busy smoking and discussing their weight with all and sundry (based purely on what Bonsoir has said about Parisians and their obsession with everyone's weight).

mercibucket Fri 18-Jan-13 23:18:41

a few good slaps and you're well on the way to parisian parenting

also, yes, they grow up to be, erm, parisian. and all that entails

so it's a 'thanks but no thanks' from me

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Sat 19-Jan-13 07:35:33

French child rearing and education styles seem based on the 'punish failure' mentality.
Some French teachers still think it acceptable to throw things at children and hit them occasionally if they don't learn as fast as others.
Failure in manners at home? a slap around the head will do the trick.
French children I've observed around me are rougher and tougher than British kids I know. Lots of physical fighting and bullying as the norm.
They all sit well and eat their food, I've never seen any nationality throwing food actually.
Of course not everyone is like this but these are the things I've witnessed first hand.

I really find unpalatable this sense of superiority towards other nations ways of parenting, are you trying to upstage the French on smugness?

French teenagers don't queue? That I agree is very annoying, unfortunately I also belong to a nation where people don't queue and I hate that.

But apparently many British teenagers go wild when their parents aren't around, or am I wrong? I've seen some docs on Magaluf or other hells on earth and it is not exactly good behaviour that is portrayed.

documentaries, sorry, not docs

Cantdothisagain Sat 19-Jan-13 09:30:25

I've never seen children throwing food (other than babies!) in the UK or in France. Clearly though there will be parenting strategies we can learn from the French just as there are others they can learn from us. My question is about fussy eating in young children which the book blurb implies is less of a problem in France for whatever reason. How have you observed French parents tackle the problem of children refusing to try new foods? and have you seen a way of getting sauce-resisting children to try sauces? Thank you!

MaeMobley Sat 19-Jan-13 09:35:59

I read this book last year and really enjoyed it.
Yes, it is mostly about Parisian and New York parents but it is really interesting and gives a different perspective of things we do and take for granted.
It also helped me understand my French BIL a bit better.
I would recommend reading this book. It is entertaining and gives some different view points. It does mean the French parent better (on the contrary).

MaeMobley Sat 19-Jan-13 09:36:46

PS but I loved the Tiger Mother book too.

LeBFG Sat 19-Jan-13 13:24:38

Good point about what French children turn into as adolescents. My friend has hosted French teenagers at her home for years. Yes, they nibble quietly at the dinner table. But she has always complained at how lacking in maturity they are compared with her children and other english kids she knows. She think parents don't hand over responsibility to their children. I'm personally struck by how much babying goes on well into the twenties. Mums launder, cook and provide financially for 25 year olds who've left home. Though, at odds to this, as children they are used to being sent off on school trips/summer camps from a very young age. Whilst there, teachers just seem to throw their hands in the air and the kids run riot/swear etc. When I travelled with UK kids, they were dead chuffed to be away from parents for the first time and thus on tip-top behaviour.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Sat 19-Jan-13 14:04:00

I heard this woman interviewed on Woman's Hour about this book - must have been a good year ago. Can't remember much detail but I do remember a French woman they spoke to saying a lot of seeming good behaviour in a social setting was down to what most of us would consider dubious parenting practises and controlling behaviour in the home.

In fact, this woman was resident in the UK and was deliberately not bringing her children up the 'French way.'

Anecdotal evidence: my children's schools are among the few who still participate in an exchange programme with a French school. DD (14 at the time) stayed with a girl who barely spoke to her for the 10 days she was there; she was expected to stay in her room in the evenings as the school had tests every week and the girl was confined to her room also prob chatting with her mates. Luckily the English girls managed to get together enough times to make it bearable. Most had similar stories.

When we were the hosts, the English girls were welcoming and polite, but were soon exasperated at the French girls' habit of openly ignoring them and talking amongst themselves in French. I witnessed this more than once, giving them lifts and having a few of them meeting up in our house.
DD and her friends turned into miniature Mirandas - 'rude!'

Won't bore you all with further anecdotes but suffice to say I much prefer the results of my own parenting and that of my DD's parents.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Sat 19-Jan-13 14:05:59

Meant to say 'that of my DD's friends' parents!

Mudwiggle Sat 19-Jan-13 15:17:03

Erm, I liked the book. I found it funny and informative.

I love the approach to food and have applied it to a degree with my DS's. You don't have to eat everything on your plate, but you have to taste everything on your plate. Stressfree dinnertimes. means no 'rudeness' when at someone else's house and they have cooked.

No one answered me, then.
French adolescents are all according to you lacking in lots of departments.
What brings the average Uk teen to drink until senseless then? Have you seen the programs on the bbc about teens on holidays?

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Sat 19-Jan-13 19:59:55

Not sure anyone said that Franca. I don't know many adolescents so I can't comment. But yes I have seen English people drinking too much. Only seen French teens drinking too much on fete de la musique and Beaujolais nouveau night.

There are variuos posts omhere, TheAccidental, lamenting the behaviour of French teenagers abroad and linking their behaviour to the way they are brought up, as if parenting was an exact science, which is not.

I am just pointing out that also English (and various other nationalities!) adolescents don't behave perfectly all the time. Parenting may be different, but we still don't have the recipe for a perfect human being grin.

the sense of superiority is out of place, imo.

allagory Sun 20-Jan-13 00:19:26

Less prone to tantrums as toddlers, more prone to tantrums as adults? (I only really have experience of the latter..working with French businesses from 1986).

LeBFG Sun 20-Jan-13 06:27:29

Where I live, the French teens drink tons just the same as the UK kids. There are lots of opportunities at friends' houses, parties etc...and I'm in the god end ass of nowhere. Teens are teens wherever. My comments were about teens on holidays with schools. I supervised UK kids in Normandie on their week about the war. The other nationalities (mainly French) were atrocious. Some of ours did try and join in but us teachers were too wiley for them grin you would hope so - the French teachers couldn't give a sh*t - I've heard the same from French teachers tbh so I don't think it was a one-off.

Of course there is no one-size-fits-all. I'm sure some UK kids would benefit from a bit of Frenchness. I must admit, when I go back to the UK I like the stuff they give small children in restaurants (packs, crayons etc). I've never seen it in France. My Portugese friend in the UK is horrified though and much prefers the French expectation of sitting properly at the table.

Something I've noticed in common with both countries however is how everyone sits at the table with their blasted mobile phones. Now that, I can't bear.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Sun 20-Jan-13 07:51:20

No-one has the recipe for perfect child rearing Franca, but I certainly don't adhere to the punish failure mentality that I see around me.
The idea that French people do 'much better' at child rearing seems to me to be simply a ploy to sell books, it's insulting and over simplistic of the author.
I don't see a sense of superiority here but a level of shock as to how the author could make the implication that French parenting is better.
There are good parents and bad, in every nation, but the style is different in France to the UK.
FWIW I'm raising a child with ASD in France. If I were to raise him in a 'French' way he would be traumatised and deeply misunderstood. It's bad enough that he gets punished at school for his ASD, I couldn't bring that home.

LeBFG I would love it too if French restaurants gave kids crayon packs too. I did go to my first themed restaurant yesterday (outside of Disney) with soft play, which my DS adored. I am guilty of playing with the mobile at the table though

Bonsoir Sun 20-Jan-13 07:54:57

France has traditionally been a control-and-command culture, not a cooperation/consultation culture.

shemademedoit Sun 20-Jan-13 08:47:40

Very interested in reading this book. We've been in France for 8 years now, since my youngest was a babe in arms. I teach in various French schools and think that at school the kids are much the same as in the UK..... Reserving judgement on parenting choices until I've read the book (if I'm lucky enought to win)

I've dipped into this book since having my second child and have accordingly parented DD2 slightly differently, applying Le Pause and so on. I did enjoy the baby chapter... I will read on.

Question: proportionally do more mothers of young babies return to ft work in France than in the UK/US, and what is the link between that and their parenting styles?

I am just as shocked at anyone believing their country has a recipe for perfect childrearing.

Don't get me wrong I am quite averse to the control and command culture, I believe it infantilises people. However, I also see faults in the way childhood is viewed in the Anglo Saxon world.

Bonsoir Mon 21-Jan-13 09:51:17

I am deeply averse to the French traditional control-and-command culture for that very reason - that it infantilises people. The pernicicious effects of this culture are much more visible when they become adults unable to think for themselves than when they are obedient children.

However, it is much easier to instigate and maintain order in a control-and-command culture than in a culture where everyone needs to be consulted and to cooperate with joint decisions. The British sadly often just fail to do anything much with their children and, instead of raising thinking adults, don't civilise their DCs at all.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 21-Jan-13 10:42:13

The book giveaway is now closed and we'll be sending the names and addresses of the 50 winners to the publishers later today and announce on this thread when the books have been sent out. Great to see so much discussion on this thread and remember to post your questions to author Pamela Druckerman before end of 31st January.

LillianGish Fri 25-Jan-13 19:46:38

Well I loved the book - my dcs were born in Paris and I think Pamela is pretty much spot on. In fact I've bought it for all my English friends in Paris who are having/or have had babies - not as child-rearing manual, but just so they, like me can read bits out to their dhs and generally laugh knowingly at the French. I don't think it's intended as an instruction book any more than the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, but like that book it is a brilliant read.

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 26-Jan-13 10:02:15

There must be a middle way, surely?! Mine sit quietly in a restaurant and eat what's put in front of them - they always have done. I was quite strict when they were younger, and we had the advantage, when they were little, of seeing some uncontrolled kids running round a busy restaurant, and one ending up with a plate of salad on his head, because he crashed into the server (luckily it wasn't hot soup!).

The French family who live underneath us put their baby to bed at a set time every night, and she screams for hours and hours. They never go in to her, and she does (eventually) go to sleep. But she screams every night from around 8 to one in the morning. I think they must use ear plugs. grin

matana Sat 26-Jan-13 15:19:01

My ds is 2.2 and eats almost anything you put in front of him. When he's not throwing it that is. How do you explain that?

Tee2072 Sat 26-Jan-13 16:20:22

I have not read the book. I have never been to France. My son doesn't throw food. Luck, not parenting, I think.

I am fascinated, though, that there are really only 2 questions directed at Pamela here.

As anyone on thread read the entire book?

nzwahine Sat 26-Jan-13 18:27:53

Living in France at the mo and see plenty of tantrum throwing by French Kids.
Call me old fashioned but doesn't it come down us as their parents to just teaching our kids basic table manners, respect our elders & be grateful for what we have. I know that growing up I never misbehaved at the dinner table. We were taught by example by our parents & I wonder why in one generation so many of us seem to have let these basic principles fall by the wayside. Are we too busy these days? Are we now so used to instant gratification, living on credit, mobile phones, internet, etc that we expect our kids to get the lessons in one go & give up when they don't? My kids are by no means perfect and they have & do fall down along the way & drive me to distraction sometimes but it can only be to my benefit & theirs if they grow up with basic manners & respect. That takes time - it's a lifetime of learning. Just something to mull over.

Tailtwister Sun 27-Jan-13 20:48:07

I haven't read the book, but I do think it's possible for fairly young children to sit and behave at the table. We regularly eat out and lots of people have commented on how well behaved the boys are. I love the compliments (who wouldn't!), but do point out it's just a snapshot of their behaviour and they are just children. All children tantrum and behave badly sometimes. It's part of the developmental process and I would be astounded if French children are any different.

IME good behaviour when eating out relies on several factors. Familiar restaurants, eating when they are actually hungry, not having unrealistic expectations on how long they will sit are just a few. I notice our 2 are much better behaved in when familiar surroundings.

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 09:00:28

Tee2072 - Yes, I have read the book (when it was first out), as did plenty of my Anglo-Saxon Parisian girlfriends. I have also recently read the preface to the French edition, written by Elisabeth Badinter. Now that was more illuminating (about the whole of Elisabeth Badinter's oeuvre) than Pamela Druckerman's book!

wordfactory Mon 28-Jan-13 09:13:50

I think the way French DC behave around food and eating en famille, is simply an extension of the way the French (generally) parent, in that adults return to adult orientated life asap and DC are expected to fit in with that.

This is an expectation across the board. Food and eating is just one part of it.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 09:24:34

i think french children are often less picky about food as theyre expected to join in with massive occasion mealtimes with no special kids food, but behaviour wise, theyre no different

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 09:45:07

No - it's the opposite. On big occasions, French DC are siphoned off to another room/table and have special food. They absolutely do not eat with the adults (that is the Anglo-Saxon way, which shocks French people deeply). But French DC are expected to behave well and are punished if they aren't.

galaxydad Mon 28-Jan-13 10:17:54

Not in my experience but I suppose it's what your idea of the big occasions are.
Every meal we have had in France with French people our kids and their kids have always been sat at the table to join in.

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 10:19:47

In Paris (which is where Ms Druckerman is writing about), children sit separately. Even very tiny children - when my DD was just 3 she went to her first Bat Mitzvah and was expected to sit at a table of 20 little girls she had never met for an entire evening, right across a huge room of people from her parents and brothers (who were on a table of boys).

ohnowhatnow Mon 28-Jan-13 10:25:57

I was just coming on to say, its probably because French children would get a slap for throwing food and similar behaviour.

HanneHolm Mon 28-Jan-13 10:26:43

the french HIT their kids instead IME.

job done

BORED of the french deification.

galaxydad Mon 28-Jan-13 10:29:56

Bonsoir, you may be right but then the word Parisean should be used instead of French when making generalistions.
Which incidently is why I find the concept of this book just a bit silly.

CoteDAzur Mon 28-Jan-13 10:43:58

We live in the South of France, where there is a large English expat community. French children and English children do behave differently in social occasions, notably at restaurants. My understanding is that the difference is in parents' expectations - French parents expect children to behave, whereas most English parents I see have a "Children will be children" attitude.

We expect our children to behave but don't ever smack or otherwise hurt them. It is possible to establish authority over DC and have kids who behave in public without hitting them.

chipmonkey Mon 28-Jan-13 10:53:25

Bonsoir, was your dd OK with that? Did she come over to you? Did you let her?

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 11:39:24

chipmonkey - no, my DD wasn't OK with that! Not at 3. By 6/7 she could manage it.

Here in Paris 3 year olds get dropped off for three hour birthday parties at homes they have never visited before to be entertained by entertainers who shout at them shock

chipmonkey Mon 28-Jan-13 11:54:27

I did wonder! My ds4 is 4 and going to school and I don't think he'd be OK with that!

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 13:33:37

IME French children have to learn to manage without their parents very early on, and to rely on other adults and/or an invariable social structure to which they are accustomed (conditioned) from birth. Therefore, at age 3, they can manage a birthday party with aplomb.

However, when they grow up they don't have that deep-rooted security of being able to manage on their own, relying on no-one and nothing that is not deeply familiar, that comes of being exposed to multiple situations with their parents and seeing how their parents manage those situations.

ppeatfruit Mon 28-Jan-13 14:20:18

This is a fascinating discussion; we live between France and England and I agree that slapping, fear of punishment and lack of understanding of child development features more generally in the upbringing of french children than ours (which is of course not to say that English parents are perfect!).

BUT the repression in the children seems to lead to very competitive driving (tailgating) in the majority of the french drivers (they kill themselves and others in their cars many times more than the English).

I belong to an international women's group in Poitiers and we have discussed this and have come to the above conclusions.

CoteDAzur Mon 28-Jan-13 14:20:35

Bonsoir - What you say re 3-year-olds being dropped off at parties is not just a Parisian thing. I remember approaching the mum of 3-year-old twins whom DD had befriended at maternelle about possibly getting together for a playdate and being shocked when she said "No problem, I'll tell the teacher you can pick them up for lunch or whatever". She had never met me before but was perfectly fine with this stranger taking her kids from school. I'm not even going into her total lack of interest in how her twins would feel about it.

ppeatfruit Mon 28-Jan-13 14:24:40

As a personal footnote I think that being "MADE" to eat what is put in front of you can lead to anorexia and other food phobias, not a good idea.

CoteDAzur Mon 28-Jan-13 14:25:32

I can't agree that "repression of children" leads to dangerous driving as adults. You can't even establish correlation, let alone causation.

I have driven in places where driving is a truly scary experience but children are brought up in with a totally laissez faire attitude.

It is more likely that the repression of children in France, at home and at school, leads to repressed French adults who always toe the line and don't have the self-confidence to raise their hand to protest against an injustice.

ppeatfruit Mon 28-Jan-13 14:35:00

No not scary Cote unless you're on the peripherique. It's almost as if they feel that once they are behind the wheel of a car they can control something; they are disciplined drivers but just too fast and always on your tail grin.

The adults IME seem to find it difficult to think 'outside the box' they follow rules unquestioningly as you say.

PiannaFingers Mon 28-Jan-13 14:37:27

Totally agree with Accidental - fear plays a big part. Sadly.

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 14:43:40

"It is more likely that the repression of children in France, at home and at school, leads to repressed French adults who always toe the line and don't have the self-confidence to raise their hand to protest against an injustice."

I agree with this - on an individual level, I find French people's ability to analyse what is going on around them and form a coherent, observation and data driven opinion about it, pretty limited. Hence they do not take action in their own lives. Protest against injustice largely takes the form of mass demonstration

CoteDAzur Mon 28-Jan-13 16:49:01

Don't get me started on the demonstrations.

It is hard not to notice that they tend to fall on Fridays, along with grèves. I suspect that French people's love of these demonstrations/mass protests is little more than love of long weekends.

ppeatfruit Mon 28-Jan-13 17:01:39

One of the best things about the French is their ability to relax and have proper lunches and weekends (oh and they hibernate in bad winter weather which is extremely sensible) despite their repression they seem to have their work\leisure balance more equal than us. IMO

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 17:33:33

There are plenty of good things about France, especially the food and the importance accorded to rest and sex leisure. I'm not sure the way they bring up their children is so fab, though. I think my DD is head and shoulders better brought up than most French children - she actually thinks about stuff! So many French children are a bit robotic, IMO.

chipmonkey Mon 28-Jan-13 18:14:45

Oh, no someone mentioned the peripherique!

<<<<<<Flashbacks of driving around it 100 times before finding the right exit and the fecking SatNav going "Route recalculation" over and over and over....>>>>

MrsSchadenfreude Mon 28-Jan-13 18:18:11

You don't tend to see rebellious teens in Paris. The ones I see on the bus are all absolutely conformist - girls with long swishy hair, skinny jeans tucked into Uggs, a navy Canada Goose jacket. The only sign of rebellion is the occasional red jacket or brown Uggs. And their bags are all the same too. No wacky haircuts, no bad dye jobs (DD1 had some rather dubious pink streaks in her hair for a while), no piercings other than one hole in each ear.

Nothing "irregular" in fact!

MrsSchadenfreude Mon 28-Jan-13 18:20:39

Oh yes, the Peripherique... with the madness that is where some of the roads joining the Periph have priority (so no-one drives in the inside lane) and some do not. The signs that tell you that the road ahead are tiny and well concealed too.

In fact, I wish they would just get rid of the "priority to the right" rule full stop, as it is utterly bonkers.

ppeatfruit Mon 28-Jan-13 18:40:43

Yes MrsSchaenfreude I agree about the 'priorite`a`droite' esp. on the Peripherique shock But sometimes (although badly signalled ,or not signalled at all shock, where they still exist) it DOES slow the through traffic. Has anyone noticed that some French people forget that they are more or less finished with? Those large STOP signs at junctions now are relatively new.

Bonsoir Mon 28-Jan-13 19:48:32

MrsSchadenfreude - French teens don't rebel with their appearance - being attractive to the opposite sex is way too important to mess with in these parts. But I can reliably inform you that they do give their parents hell, even if they look clean cut - we know an awful lot of French parents of teens...

CoteDAzur Mon 28-Jan-13 19:49:29

"French teens don't rebel with their appearance - being attractive to the opposite sex is way too important "

... and they are too conformist to do anything radically different.

Bonsoir Tue 29-Jan-13 09:21:19

Hmm. I know some pretty radically different French teens - they just don't want to look ugly while being radical!

LeBFG Tue 29-Jan-13 09:25:12

omg, lots that I agree with but some outrageous stuff. This is yet another crass generalisation of the sort that, unfortunately, I've read far, far too often on MN hmm sad (and although I've not read the book, I fear it falls in the same camp):

on an individual level, I find French people's ability to analyse what is going on around them and form a coherent, observation and data driven opinion about it, pretty limited. Hence they do not take action in their own lives.

This is so not true IME. So many french (rural) I've met are very, VERY similar to the english (rural) I know/have known. Some are obsessed with maxing on state benefits, others are ambitious and take control over their education/careers. Some are able to reason logically, others not...

In terms of so-called "repression" (imo, FWIW), I've never seen a child hit by an adult (though am told teachers will do so) or yelled/sworn at - I have seen this disgusting behaviour in urban UK however.

Around these parts, kids at fetes just eat with friends or, more normally, with parents and they rarely eat all the meal because the are off running around, guzzling coke, playing and doing......exactly what english kids would do in the same situation.

CoteDAzur Tue 29-Jan-13 11:19:46

Bonsoir - Down here around the Principauté, teenage boys are all pretty much the same. Some girls do look a bit outrageous, but they are also conforming - to music industry's sad stereotype of pole dancer chic.

No goth, no leather (except on high-tech bikes), no piercing, and certainly no pink/purple/green hair.

CoteDAzur Tue 29-Jan-13 11:34:19

"I've never seen a child hit by an adult (in France)"

Are you serious? shock

I see parents smacking children everywhere - on the bus, at the school gates, and especially at Carrefour-type large shopping places.

Aside from smacking, I have witnessed parents very forcefully hitting their children - a 3-year-old boy in DD's maternelle class was struck by his dad in class because he didn't want to put on his tablier. A 6-7 year old boy was complaining to his dad about something at the public pool and his dad literally clobbered him in front of everyone. The boy was screaming in pain and fear for the duration of this session sad I asked management there if there is a number for the police to report such abuse, and was told "He is the police". Nobody did anything and neither did I, in the end, because I didn't want trouble from that guy [ashamed]

Last year, at a quite good seafood restaurant on the beach, two kids aged about 4 & 6 were running about and making a bit of noise but really it wasn't a problem. Their dad put down his red wine, started walking towards the kids (who were near our table). Kids start whining and pleading "No, no! Daddy please!" at this point because they know what is coming sad Dad catches the little boy, whacks him several times, then goes for the girl, who is trying to crawl away from him, whacks her, too. They go back to their table and continue crying.

All this played out in front of our DC. They were absolutely terrified and hiding behind me & DH at this point. DS (2) got over it fairly quickly but DD (6) kept asking DH & me "You would never do that to us, would you? I love you mummy/daddy." with a little voice.

Seriously, if you have never seen a child hit by an adult in France, you must be living a very sheltered life, with some of the gentlest parents in the whole country.

AuldAlliance Tue 29-Jan-13 11:35:05

Down here in Provence, there are the conformists, but there are also goths, punks, skateboarders, athletic types, many other subcatgeories... and the simply ordinary.

There are well behaved children, badly behaved children, extroverts and introverts, parents who smack and parents who don't.

Children often eat before adults at parties so they can then run around/play whatever, while we have a leisurely apéro and meal. Sometimes they eat at the same time. Table capacity is as important here as tradition, IME.

I have been guilty of some generalising in my time, but I really, really can't see a single French parenting model enacted around me.

ppeatfruit Tue 29-Jan-13 11:51:46

Cote shock But IKEWYM Some (of course not ALL) french parents seem 'frightened' of allowing their DCs to do anything (even a lovely little 8 month old who was cooing in the shopping trolley seat in Auchan was 'hushed' by it's parents they made more noise the baby TBH!!).

I get the feeling it's a control issue due to their own over controlled childhood. The parents and DCs who come for aperos in our house seem soo worried that their DCs will do something wrong. Its really sad actually.

AuldAlliance Tue 29-Jan-13 12:37:02

I was in Hyper U the other day with DS2 (3), and was shushing him because he was making strange piercing noises as we went through the aisles. A man from the local factory said to me over the pasta, 'C'est cool, Madame, laissez-le. Il fait sa musique.'

<<disclaimer: random anecdote. NOT intended as hard evidence.>>

LeBFG Tue 29-Jan-13 13:31:35

Well, Cote, I can only tell you what I've seen in the last 7 years. There aren't abundant children around but they are treated just as you and I would say normally. I really have never seen a kid being whacked - and the nearest town is a bit of dive in places too. Even in the bigger cities I go to occasionally (St Gaudens and Toulouse), I've not seen it.

Perhaps some of the table manners starts in primary school where packed lunches are really unusual and everyone is expected to sit to table and eat the multiple courses? Kids learn a lot from each other that way.

I do agree that parenting style differs though (as I've said above). I've always got a wry smile and have to bite my lip when I'm told DS will hurt himself, fall off that etc as he runs about. Particularly from the older brigade. But as someone else says I do tend to follow DS around and narrate his life away, so perhaps controlling in another way?

LillianGish Tue 29-Jan-13 18:31:24

"Girls with long swishy hair, skinny jeans tucked into Uggs, a navy Canada Goose jacket. The only sign of rebellion is the occasional red jacket or brown Uggs. And their bags are all the same too" - you have just described my dd and her friends at the Lycee in South Ken - the bag in question is a Longchamp pliage! I have also read the book from start to finish - maybe it's just me, but I didn't see it as a hymn to the perfection of French parenting - in fact I thought some of it was slightly tongue in cheek. It is fascinating to see how the French, our nearest neighbours after all, do so many things so differently - whether they are entirely successful (or whether we are for that matter) is open to question. I just love the way Pamela has put her finger on so many of the differences - she has so many of the Parisian parents I know off to a tee. I loved the caca boudin chapter for instance - my dcs both went through this - it never occurred to me to try and analyse why this might be. In fact by way of a question I'd like to ask her if she really thinks French parenting techniques are better than ours - or is it just interesting to see another approach and try a bit of mix and match?

iYawn Thu 31-Jan-13 11:52:34

Hello Pamela

Thanks for doing this Q&A on Mumsnet - II read the book and loved it - could do with more tips tbh

Did I read somewhere you have another book coming out?

I like the idea that children are aware of adults in the house etc and are polite. (think manners take children a long way, DC1 for e.g. is PFB fussy eater blush but always thanks me for the meal.

My question is:

When we're not in France and don't have the set up, (e.g the nursery)
how can we be more French while here in "lowest common denominator for standards" UK?

TIA

ppeatfruit Thu 31-Jan-13 13:52:07

Well I prefer DCs to be DCs not robots (who are only 'good' because they are in fear) See cote's post. I hope your DH thanks you for the meal too.iyawn

BTW we allowed our DCs to have personalities and be confident. They are not unruly adults at all. In fact the opposite.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 31-Jan-13 16:22:46

It's great to see this book has sparked so much debate. We're closing the Q&A later this eve and sending the questions over to Pamela so if you have a specific question you want to ask her, do post before the end of the day. We certainly don't want to stop the discussion though, so do carry on. We'll post up Pamela's answers on 8th February.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 09-Feb-13 00:16:44

Pamela's answers are now back and we're going to post them up shortly.

PamelaDruckerman Sat 09-Feb-13 00:25:51

LeBFG

I wonder how much of the books anecdotes are Parisian-centred? Lots of cliches which are said to be true in Paris, I've just not observed in my neck of rural France. I see fat kids/mums, rude kids, kids misbehaving etc. I haven't read the book, but the question in the title can possibly be answered by the nounou. Everyone I know sends their DC to childminders and these experienced women are keen on rules. My DS now drinks perfectly out of a cup and always goes to the table to do so and to eat his biscuit whereas I just let him run a bit wild.

Hi. As I say in the introduction, my book is a description of the French urban middle classes. I live in Paris and am raising my kids here. But I also researched it over several years, reading national parenting magazines and books, spending time in crèches and in the schools where they train workers for them (these follow a national curriculum), looking at social science research comparing France and American middle class parents, interviewing sociologists, paediatricians and psychologists, and speaking to parents who come from around the country (but who mostly live in Paris). I also interviewed several French nannies! In all of this, there were a great many recurring themes. I think I’ve described, more or less, what people in this social strata aspire to do, and often actually do. It even sounds like it may be what your son does too – at least in the realm of food, which you mentioned.

PamelaDruckerman Sat 09-Feb-13 00:29:08

helpyourself

I've entered the draw. I'm very interested in the concept of French parenting after a Damescene moment a few years ago.
I spent many holidays as a child living in France with a French family, was still in touch with them and slightly in awe of the order and way they were bringing up their children. However having taken my dcs to stay with them we all came away rather shell shocked. What I remembered as old fashioned, sophisticated order struck us now as almost abuse. Five course meals for toddlers, smacking for failing to get to the loo in time, etc.
I've stopped all contact.

This sounds like a very upsetting situation. Smacking toddlers for potty-training problems certainly isn’t typical of anything I observed in France, nor is smacking (for any reason) something that I condone in the book. As for the five-course meals for toddlers, that sounds like one course too many. In the crèche they typically serve a starter, a main course with a vegetable side, a cheese course, and then a fruit dessert. I sat in on some of these meals, and they’re not onerous at all. (Perhaps the one you observed was?). The food is all cooked from scratch in house, it’s cut or mushed up for the smaller kids, and it’s presented as something pleasurable and fun. The whole meal only lasts for about 20 minutes, if I recall. Sorry again to hear about your traumatic experience with that family; it’s certainly nothing to emulate.

PamelaDruckerman Sat 09-Feb-13 00:30:19

TheCarefulLaundress

Hello Pamella - where in the UK did you see children throwing food in restaurants? I've never witnessed this myself.

Unfortunately it’s my own child who was throwing food in restaurants. She’s only half-British, so maybe it was her American side that did the throwing!
Of course the title of the book is meant to be cheeky. The book is a lot more nuanced. It’s a mixture of journalism and my own experience, not all of which is positive about the French.

PamelaDruckerman Sat 09-Feb-13 00:31:59

mrsbadger2

I took my children out for dinner the other evening with some friends. I was pretty embarrassed by their behaviour. They couldn't resist mucking around and were hard to control. I could not help thinking that if they had been French they would have known how to behave, eat nicely and calmly and converse with adults in an adult environment. I think the problem is that here, everything has to be made child friendly-church services, restaurants, any form of entertainment really. I don't think it is too much to expect children to be bored and have to put up with a situation , on occasion, that does not revolve around them. So yes, actually, I am interested in reading this book.

Hello, and thanks for your kind note. I think you really hit on a core “French” idea (the French didn’t invent this, but they’ve really held onto it). It’s that if family life is centered entirely on the kids, it’s not good for anyone, not even the kids. When this happens in France, they consider it a big problem. The DB is a “child king” or a “child tyrant.” This is very badly regarded (though of course it happens, and the French think it’s on the rise. They blame us Americans!).

To make sure not to raise little tyrants, the French believe that – exactly as you say – kids need to learn to cope with a bit of boredom and frustration. Parents consider this a crucial life skill, and something their kids can’t be happy without. But of course they stress that children need lots of love and affection and attention too. All of these – including the frustration - are crucial. One of the French nannies I interviewed said that in the Anglo homes she worked for, there was much more whining and breakdowns, not for lack of love, but because the kids couldn’t cope with being refused anything. (That gets to the issue of saying no with conviction, and not letting kids feel that everything is negotiable. Let’s save that for another day!)

PamelaDruckerman Sat 09-Feb-13 00:32:45

Kenobi

*LeBFG*, CrackFox et al - The book is entirely about Parisians. It should actually have been entitled "Middle and Upper Class Parisian Children Don't Throw Food".

I did enjoy it, and I thought a couple of tips were good - 'Le Pause' when dealing with babies, and the staring thing, which also works quite well, but I think only if they respect you in the first place.

My major issue is this: Pamela, the thing is about these lovely polite French children is... they grow up to be Parisians. Famously rude, cold and snobby. Is this a good thing? (I'm only half joking I'm afraid)

Also, to my mind you slightly pedal back on how tough Parisians are with their kids, and how much they reward uniformity - or did you not find this?

I have the same problem with Parisians that you do. I don’t suggest in the book that we emulate everything they do – just that we can learn from some of their parenting techniques, for instance how to teach babies to sleep through the night, and how they teach kids to eat a wide variety of foods.

I do think the French are less allergic to uniformity certainly than I am, as an American. Even at an early age, there’s less of an emphasis on free expression in schools, and more of an emphasis on acquiring skills, and learning to work together. I’m told that, especially as children get older, there’s a lot of focus in school on what they do wrong, and not much positive encouragement. I hope I counterbalance this at home!

PamelaDruckerman Sat 09-Feb-13 00:35:50

Cantdothisagain

I've never seen children throwing food (other than babies!) in the UK or in France. Clearly though there will be parenting strategies we can learn from the French just as there are others they can learn from us. My question is about fussy eating in young children which the book blurb implies is less of a problem in France for whatever reason. How have you observed French parents tackle the problem of children refusing to try new foods? and have you seen a way of getting sauce-resisting children to try sauces? Thank you!

Regarding food, there are a few things that French parents do (or aim to do). They don’t allow snacking between meals, so kids come to the table hungry. (There’s one “official” snack time in the afternoon). Then they serve vegetables first, before the chicken or the pasta, when hungry children are more likely to eat them. They have a tasting rule: you don’t have to eat it all, just try a bite. And they don’t give up on foods just because a child says, for example, “I don’t like salmon.” They keep salmon in the rotation, perhaps preparing it differently the next week. They realize that, with some foods, it’s only by tasting them lots of times that kids come to like them. They see themselves as teaching their kids to enjoy flavors. The clincher is, they aim to do this without being at all militaristic about it. They try to present food, and new flavors, as something pleasurable and fun. That’s the tricky part for me – but I’ve gotten better at it!

PamelaDruckerman Sat 09-Feb-13 00:36:29

lastonetoleaveturnoutthelights

I've dipped into this book since having my second child and have accordingly parented DD2 slightly differently, applying Le Pause and so on. I did enjoy the baby chapter... I will read on.

Question: proportionally do more mothers of young babies return to ft work in France than in the UK/US, and what is the link between that and their parenting styles?

It’s very common for French mothers of young children to go back to work full time, or four days a week. For the first child, maternity leave usually lasts three months. (There is also an option to stop working for about the first three years, until school starts). Several moms told me that their babies started sleeping through the night just they returned to work, because the babies understood that the moms needed to be rested in the morning. They called this “le feeling.” One reason French moms go back to work is because the French state either provides (via excellent public crèches) or subsidizes childcare. Another is because they believe it’s very important to have an identity as a woman, separate from who you are as a mom.

PamelaDruckerman Sat 09-Feb-13 00:37:27

nzwahine

Living in France at the mo and see plenty of tantrum throwing by French Kids.
Call me old fashioned but doesn't it come down us as their parents to just teaching our kids basic table manners, respect our elders & be grateful for what we have. I know that growing up I never misbehaved at the dinner table. We were taught by example by our parents & I wonder why in one generation so many of us seem to have let these basic principles fall by the wayside. Are we too busy these days? Are we now so used to instant gratification, living on credit, mobile phones, internet, etc that we expect our kids to get the lessons in one go & give up when they don't? My kids are by no means perfect and they have & do fall down along the way & drive me to distraction sometimes but it can only be to my benefit & theirs if they grow up with basic manners & respect. That takes time - it's a lifetime of learning. Just something to mull over.

I agree! A lot of what I describe as French parallels what used to be the norm in the US and the UK. But “Anglo” parenting has changed really radically in the last 20 years. We’re raising kids differently than we were raised ourselves. We’re more involved, we’re more worried, we’re more willing to sacrifice our sanity and our coupledom for the good of the kids. Two decades into all this, we’re starting to seriously question whether the costs are worth it, and whether the new intensive parenting is even good for kids.

The basic politeness you’re talking about is a big theme in France, starting when kids are little. Kids there aren’t just obliged to say please and thank-you. They also absolutely have to say hello and goodbye. The idea is that by greeting someone, you have to recognize that he exists. You have to gradually break out of your selfish bubble, and develop empathy.

PamelaDruckerman Sat 09-Feb-13 00:38:50

LillianGish

*"Girls with long swishy hair, skinny jeans tucked into Uggs, a navy Canada Goose jacket. The only sign of rebellion is the occasional red jacket or brown Uggs. And their bags are all the same too"* - you have just described my dd and her friends at the Lycee in South Ken - the bag in question is a Longchamp pliage! I have also read the book from start to finish - maybe it's just me, but I didn't see it as a hymn to the perfection of French parenting - in fact I thought some of it was slightly tongue in cheek. It is fascinating to see how the French, our nearest neighbours after all, do so many things so differently - whether they are entirely successful (or whether we are for that matter) is open to question. I just love the way Pamela has put her finger on so many of the differences - she has so many of the Parisian parents I know off to a tee. I loved the caca boudin chapter for instance - my dcs both went through this - it never occurred to me to try and analyse why this might be. In fact by way of a question I'd like to ask her if she really thinks French parenting techniques are better than ours - or is it just interesting to see another approach and try a bit of mix and match?

Thanks for mentioning caca boudin. For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s a curse word used by French preschoolers. It roughly translates as “poop sausage,” but really it’s an all-purpose bad word that can mean “no,” “I don’t care,” or “whatever.” Nobody actually teaches his child to say caca boudin. Kids just pick it up at school. But French parents tend to accept that kids need a bad word, because they need to transgress sometimes. Instead of banning the caca boudin, they try to teach children to wield it appropriately. For example, they’re allowed to say it in their rooms, but not at the dinner table, and certainly not in a restaurant.

Now to answer your question…the point of my book isn’t that French parents are perfect, or that we should emulate everything they do. It’s that they have some common-sense solutions to problems that parents everywhere face. And in this age where the tendency is to parent very intensively, the French are a reminder that sometimes doing less, being less involved, giving kids the freedom to say caca boudin sometimes – can have calming results for everyone.

Looking at what the French do, and what they take for granted and consider natural, is also a way to see what we do more clearly. I get a real thrill, personally, from realizing how many of my own habits are actually cultural.

PamelaDruckerman Sat 09-Feb-13 00:40:24

iYawn

Hello Pamela

Thanks for doing this Q&A on Mumsnet - II read the book and loved it - could do with more tips tbh

Did I read somewhere you have another book coming out?

I like the idea that children are aware of adults in the house etc and are polite. (think manners take children a long way, DC1 for e.g. is PFB fussy eater blush but always thanks me for the meal.

My question is:

When we're not in France and don't have the set up, (e.g the nursery)
how can we be more French while here in "lowest common denominator for standards" UK?

TIA

Hi there. I’m so glad you liked the last book, and I very much hope you’ll like the new one too. I think there are some simple things that British parents can do. One of the “tips” in the new book is, “Don’t let children interrupt you.” When this happens in France (and of course it does), parents try to politely say, “I’m in the middle of speaking to someone, I’ll be with you in a minute.”

Notably, this is followed by an equally important tip: Don’t interrupt your child (for instance, when he’s happily playing). In other words, the respect should be mutual. And French believe that being able to cope with boredom and to be absorbed in an activity is a valuable life skill, which strengthens with practice.

PamelaDruckerman Sat 09-Feb-13 00:40:41

Thanks very much for all the thought-provoking questions! And warm regards from across the Channel. Pamela

emilywq Sat 09-Feb-13 13:07:07

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

fromparistoberlin Mon 11-Feb-13 14:56:37

Middle and Upper Class Parisian Children Don't Throw Food".

exactement!!!! and agree with whoever said that they turn into Parisiens

Scientistmum Sat 04-May-13 09:25:07

My boys are great eaters and well-behaved at meal-times and in restaurants. Our youngest is five and we use things like 'eye-spy' or colouring books to prevent boredom waiting for food. They are normal boys with tons of energy but we have never had problems with them trying different food or bahaviour at mealtimes. I don't agree that there is one type of parenting that gets you to this point.

I breastfed both my children until around three, went back to work when the youngest was in pre-school and have never used childcare. My husband is in the military and it is often just me at home because my family are a few hours away. We have never hit our children. I allow (not demand) them to try every type of food and didn't use baby food but simply mashed up whatever the rest of us were eating from as early as four months old. They also do get snacks between meals. Most of the time we eat dinner as a family but it is not a strict rule as they eat in front of a film on TV as a treat once a week on average.

I agree that snacking too close to mealtimes will mean they are not hungry enough for meals (this is common sense). I don't agree they should denied snacks as proper hunger is not 'relaxed' or healthy. Their blood sugar levels would get too low and my boys would be grumpy and difficult to reason with. Instead of being contented with stir-fry chicken and veg, my youngest would be so hungry he would throw himself on the floor demanding chocolate now!!!! Healthy snacking (fruit, cheese, nuts etc etc) mean my kids don't get cravings for biscuits. They do, however, get treats after meals and inbetween too now and again. Anything goes if it is a treat.

They boys are slim by the way and very active.

I am Welsh and my husband is a New Zealander. I am a big fan of France and the French but no more than I am of any other culture. In this day and age I am amazed that such a title is allowed as it suggests one culture is better at childcare than another. 'French people are better parents' - as outrageous as any racist generalization.

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