Title: Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
Author: Pamela Druckerman
Publication Year: 2012
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Review: I never directly saw any of the publicity related to this book when it came out. Everything I heard was second hand from in-laws, friends, and co-workers and, honestly, I wasn’t very impressed. They get babies to sleep through the night by waiting to see if they’ll go back to sleep on their own? They make their children try foods multiple times even if they don’t like them the first time? These and similar anecdotes I heard didn’t sound like great philosophical breakthroughs about child-rearing. I didn’t see the point. However, of course, I had to read the book. I wasn’t expecting to learn any real gems of wisdom I hadn’t already heard, based on what I’d heard people say about it, but you never know.
Did I learn anything revolutionary from this book? No, not really. However, what surprised me is how much I agree with the nuances of what the French supposedly do. While I don’t think I’ll change any of my parenting practices based on this book (I highly doubt I’ll send my kids away to week long camps when they’re four and I know I won’t be wearing high heels to the playground anytime soon), it was shocking to me how similar the main message of this book is to guiding philosophy of one of my favorite parenting authors, Burton White. Both books seem to think that the key to having happy, well-behaved, unspoiled children is for them to start to understand from a young age (like 8 months or so) that while they are dearly loved, they are no more important than anyone else. Also, while French parents clearly don’t follow the principles of attachment parenting (many don’t breastfeed very long, room-in with their children after birth, wear their babies, co-sleep, etc.), based on the authors descriptions they seem to be very attuned to their children, which is ultimately what all that attachment stuff is about, right? Even regarding sleep, while they do let their babies fuss a little bit when they wake up, they definitely do not in general seem to follow the cry-it-out approach, but rather observe and treat each child uniquely.
I think there is a lot of good advice in this book and the style of writing is very friendly and conversational. For the parts of the French parenting philosophy that I already more or less follow, I find Burton White’s books to be more useful and to the point. However, there is a lot of discussion about other topics such as diet, discipline, learning, and spousal relations that are worth reading, if not following. Unfortunately, while interesting, the sections on day-care, nannies, and returning to work are not particularly useful for the average American woman, unless they plan on relocating to France. While I do find the book to be slightly long-winded for the average parent and a lot of the advice best implemented starting at a very young age, it would be a great book for a pregnant first-time mother to leisurely read in her rapidly diminishing free-time. (Personal Rating: 8/10)