I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why French Parents are Superior.” The article was written by an American female who had been living in France for a period of time with her three young children, two sons and a daughter. This American, Pamela Druckerman, was married to a British citizen. Initially, she lived in a town a few hours outside of Paris with her only child, whom they called Bean. With a name like Bean, you might imagine that things would go downhill from there.
At any rate, the article states that French parents are much better at raising their children because (a) they are taught to say hello, goodbye, thank you and please; (b) when they misbehave, they are given the “big eyes”; (c) they are allowed only one snack a day around 4 or 4:30; (d) French parents remind them they are boss and make the decisions, and finally (e) they are not afraid to say no.
As far as I can tell, claiming that you are doing a good job of raising children by comparing your way to the way Americans raise children is sort of like saying I am a moderate drinker compared to Lindsey Lohan.
Listen, I don’t doubt for a moment the French are doing a better job than Americans in raising children. I suspect we could add to the list Germans, Italians, Canadians and the French Foreign Legion. The truth of the matter is we’ve lost perspective in America on raising children and I don’t see anything changing soon.
Of course, the French probably don’t have to spend half their time explaining to their children why every other commercial on TV involves Viagra or some other sex enhancement drug. My little hurricane boy looks over at me and asks, “Daddy, what is Viagra?”
I suppressed the urge to say, “The best damn thing that ever happened to anyone over the age of 60,” but instead babbled around about it being adult medicine for adult situations.
After hearing this 5-10 minute speech, he responds by saying, “Well, I thought it was to make sex more fun.”
I refuse to even consider discussing the commercials with the 8-year-old princess girl.
This article brags that the French only allow one snack a day. Before Michelle Obama gets through, every child in America will be eating bran muffins and will consider a brussel sprout a snack, all the while still weighing in at 320 pounds. I suspect DFACS would be called if a snack ban was imposed on my two kids. Heck, even our school has a 10:30 a.m. snack break every day.
Pamela was most impressed by the fact that children, even toddlers, played happily by themselves while grownups enjoyed coffee and other beverages, unlike in America where the children spend most of their time arguing with each other and the parents refereeing. She credits big eyes for this situation. I don’t know about big eyes, but I do know when I was growing up at my grandparents’ house the one with big eyes was me if I was carrying on as my grandfather would point to a razor strap, which saved a lot of discussion time as I quickly realized my behavior should be improved.
Just mentioning a razor strap now will have DFACS at your home, two years probation, and your children enrolled in some type group therapy.
I’m not sure I can give as much credit to the French as the author does only because the French normally drink wine at every possible occasion. They drink wine at lunch. They drink wine with their snack at 4:30. They drink wine at 7 p.m. They drink wine at 11 pm. Often, they let their children drink wine.
No wonder everyone is happily playing together. They’re all drunk out of their minds.
Contact columnist T. Gamble at email@example.com.