Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bonjour, mon ami! - Parenting around the World installment #2

Continuing my "Parenting around the World" series, installment two takes a look at the French and their parenting tendencies. Once again, this is not a blanket statement about any culture, but I believe we all can learn a little something from each other. Here is a quote from Janine DiGiovanni, a mother living in France, who recently talked about the parenting techniques of some French mothers she has seen. Its an interesting contrast. What do you think?

"It all starts from the cradle. In Britain, new mothers read the gentle and loving Penelope Leach; in America, they read the classic Dr Spock. But in France, mothers read one of the gurus of French child development, Fran├žoises Dolto. Dolto was an authoritarian who believed that children should be separate from their parents and live their own lives.
"Dr Spock would be too lovey-dovey for a French parent," laughs Thompson, who adds that this all filters down to the educational system. "In France, it is not about blossoming. It's about the transmission of knowledge."
Which is not altogether a bad thing if you have spent time in America and observed the phenomenon of spoilt-rotten American children. I will never forget my husband's horror when some visiting Upper-West-Siders I barely knew arrived at one of our dinner parties with their uninvited nine-year-old son.
That would have been fine; except that Seth was one of these precocious Manhattan kids who had to sit at the table with adults. He completely took over the evening, interrupting adults' conversations, and - to the delight of his besotted parents - performed a 10-minute hip-hop routine between courses.
In France, that would simply never have happened. The child would have been paraded out to say bonsoir, peck cheeks, and then scurry back to his or her room to read or study.
"Children in France are seen, but not heard," says one American friend, Katherine, who is a mother of two. "Except on the playground, where the parents don't get involved and then it becomes Lord of the Flies."'

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