I just finished "Bringing Up Bebe," by Pamela Druckerman. Even though it's not a parenting book of how-tos, it's one of the more interesting parenting book I've ever read. It explores a culture of consistent parenting, so rooted in French society that French parents don't even know they are doing anything special. It's not all perfect, but it's highly entertaining and very interesting.
The first point that grabbed me about the book, is a difference between American and French mothers. The author explains that American mothers often judge how good a job they are doing with how difficult they make their lives. It's the typical American Martyr Mother/Woman. We earn extra points if our pregnancies are rough, if our babies sleep terribly, if our husbands work long hours, or if we do all the housekeeping/cooking without any help.
I am so guilty of this. Here's the thing, we kinda relish in it. Like, the more we sacrifice ourselves, the better we think we are for it. And we compete, too! Have you ever been venting to a mom about a difficult baby stage, or that you need more help at home? Most likely, the answer from your mom-friend is something like, "Oh you think that was tough, little Johnny woke up through the night until he was four!" Or, "At least your husband comes home at six mine never is."
I'm not criticizing my friends at all, but seriously, it's what we do, isn't it?
The French moms are on a totally different wavelength. They are devoted and love their kids, but they have an idea about balancing family life, and about le couple being a priority. There is no such thing as a "child king" in a French family, because that's not the way the French family culture functions. Children are doted on and loved, but not at the expense of the mothers personhood (which includes being a wife and a woman, something very cherished by the French--the female mystique).
I still need to chew on a lot of what was written in the first part of this book, because the ideas vary so differently not in the way I mother, but in what I deem as devotion to the kids. Even though I might be better off going to the gym everyday, getting a date night once a week, and taking an entire day away from the kids that doesn't include grocery shopping, somehow, my mind has deemed it an unworthy pursuit, because it might not include constant, loving sacrifice.
Anyone else out there read this book? Or have a thought about the French? ;-) .