I’ll admit it.
I love all things French.
I studied abroad during my freshmen year of college in Lille, France and I loved every minute of it. Aside from the fact that I was painfully and obviously American (I wore flip-flops! And sweatshirts! Tres chic!) I soaked in the French culture–and chocolate croissants–as much as possible.
It just felt like such a different way of life. I loved that everyone there always looks effortlessly chic, I loved how you could walk anywhere and everywhere, I loved all the outdoor markets and sidewalk cafes, I loved how I stuffed myself with chocolate and still lost twenty pounds.
It was heaven on earth.
So I’ll admit that when I saw that book that came out on French parenting, I was dying to read it. “Bringing Up Bebe: One American Woman Discovers the Wonder of French Parenting” sounded right up my alley. I resisted buying it, simply because I could spend a fortune on books if I let myself, but I finally broke down and downloaded it to my Nook. I started reading it last night and–shocker–I am loving it.
I know I’ve been flopping a bit on the blog front in my effort to work as many days at the hospital as possible to 1) pay for the car that we are hopefully getting tonight (yay!) and 2) put myself into labor as soon as it is safe for the baby. So, I had the thought that I would take the best parts of the book and bring them to you in a series. Added bonus of helping me actually dissect and remember the pearls of wisdom as I read them. So here goes nothing:
#1 Rule of French Parenting: Delay Gratification
What happens when you’re at the grocery store and your kid picks up the candy stocked (conveniently) by the cash register? You say no, right? And the kid crumples into a wailing, screaming mess? Or you’re on the phone and your children are tugging on your arm, wanting to talk on the phone too, and you tell them “Just a minute,” which does nothing but fuel their scream even louder?
Apparently this doesn’t happen in France.
French mothers teach their children from day one that waiting and small disappointments are a part of life. They say “no” to their children with no regrets or guilt, and expect them to wait, obediently, for things. Children are expected to wait patiently–and this may be the key–the parents truly believe that they can wait patiently.
I know sometimes I definitely fear the wrath of the small child when I tell her “no,” whatever it may be. I seriously doubt the ability of my two-year-old to understand the concept of waiting–and consequently, she doesn’t really understand the concept of waiting. They are used to my constant and 100% divided attention to their demands–with instant results:
She wants a drink? IT BETTER HAPPEN NOW!
They want to play with bubble? RIGHT NOW!
She dropped her fork on the floor again? PICK IT UP THIS INSTANT!
Tell me I’m not alone on this. Don’t you sometimes also feel like a ridiculous performing circus monkey, jumping around from child to child, catering to their needs as quickly as possible so as to avoid and complete and total breakdown?
So apparently, we just may be creating these little monsters with our efforts to appease them. I gave this one a shot today at the grocery store, maintaining my calm and dignity as Mya tore off her shoes and tried to run around the store bare-footed. And then again at lunch when they wanted MORE LEMONADE RIGHT NOW. And then again when I still trying to put groceries away two hours after we had arrived home. It was tough work. And now I’m exhausted.
But nonetheless, I definitely see the good behind this idea. It is definitely a good lesson to teach kids to wait, because waiting is simply a part of life. And we can’t all break down and whine and scream when we don’t get our way. Because honestly, don’t you know a lot of adults like that? Probably what’s wrong with a lot of people…and if that doesn’t scare you into telling your kids “no,” I don’t know what will.