Monday, March 12, 2012

Bringing Up Bebe', Pamela Druckerman ~ Book Review

When I signed on to participate in this tour I hadn't heard of this book at all.

While waiting to receive my copy I heard discussions from fellow moms. Some felt passionately about it. Others were like me, completely unaware of the controversy. Others still hadn't even heard of the book at all. But, as always, I waited. I refrained from discussion until I'd actually read the book.

If you haven't seen it yet - the cover is quite charming!

books, review, reading

Pamela Druckerman is an American woman living in France. She is a mother who is learning as she goes, as all first-time (and second and so on!) moms do. No two children are exactly alike. Moms learn from their surroundings, they learn from other moms, they learn from their own mothers, grandmothers, communities. So much information. How many books has a pregnant woman read about child-rearing before their baby actually joins the world outside of her belly?

How many stories and suggestions has a mother heard prior to adopting their child and bringing them home? I'll tell you...

The answer is an infinite amount. Unless they have a friend like me who is going to tell them to avoid some. Avoid the ones that make you feel guilty, the ones that scare you to death! And stick with the friends that will tell you the truth. A friend's wife once said to me, nobody tells you that breastfeeding can HURT. I was so far from being a mom at that point in my life - but those words stayed with me. And guess what? She wasn't wrong.

Sorry - I tangented for a moment. Or two. Or ten. Whoops. Sorry. I'm a mom. I can't help myself.

Throughout this book Pamela Druckerman shares what she has learned of French methods of parenting while living overseas. There is so much to take in.

As a mom of a five-year-old I am admittedly intrigued. I'm curious as to what makes the French so aware. So fine-tuned to their children's needs. So different from those of us on American soil.

Or are they?

There are statements made in this book that suit my methods of parenting. Then there are ones that do not. Keep on reading. I'll fill you in.

- - Pausing for a few moments before picking up your screaming baby.
We're not talking cry it out here, we're talking about giving that baby some time to learn how to self-soothe. This is fabulous. I think many mothers know this in their heart. I think our heads know it, as well. But as someone who mothered a colic-y screaming child who couldn't always find a way to soothe herself, I say - well - sometimes she needed me.

- - No snacking throughout the day. Get an infant on a schedule for eating.
Huh? As someone who has spent their entire life on a diet, and is now in non-dieting mode, there are interesting thoughts here that cross my mind about not feeding a newborn or a young child when they are hungry. Yes, I believe kids need to learn to eat when they're supposed to, but I also nursed on demand when my daughter was young. And that included throughout the night. The French do not recommend that. I get why, and sure, it's probably part of the reason my daughter has such a rough time falling asleep without me or her father in the room, but hey, c'est la vie, right?

- - Extended breastfeeding is non-existent.
Most moms in France barely nurse their children past a few months. Double huh? This is obviously going against what the American Academy of Pediatrics or whomever suggests. I'm not saying all moms need to nurse, not by any means. I support whatever method of feeding works for you (them). But to say that nursing past a certain *early* point is appropriate, I will probably go against that. Heck - I will go against that.

But you know me and you know my blog. I'm not one to get into the political side of a book I've read, or get too caught up in particulars here.

Overall the book itself was enjoyable. I did find that there were some suggestions that I took to heart. They're reminders of things like: talk to your child like a mini-adult ... and yes, I am sort of paraphrasing; have them help in the kitchen; encourage them to eat what they are served AND most importantly, to listen to instruction and give you - the adult - some respect and privacy - or a moment when needed.

French parents find themselves enjoying meals at restaurants with well behaved children. They find themselves capable of having guests over for a nice dinner without interruption, and they also have no issues with little grubby hands asking for dessert - because there is none. The afternoon snack is the highlight of the day sometimes, and it works.

I am not saying whether or not this would work for me - for anyone not living in France - some of these tips would. Some wouldn't. We're not blessed in this country with free daycare, free preschool, and loads of wonderful meals for our children when they're at these facilities. Stay-at-home moms like myself are unable to drop their kids off twice a week so they can get their errands done, and fit in a manicure or a hair-cut while their kids are under the watchful eye of someone else. Working moms have to pay an arm and a leg for these services to ensure that they can go back to work without having to worry about what to do with their infants.

Where was I? Right. Not getting political.

Anyway, that's some of my take. I'm sorry, I guess I got a bit fired up. I really did like the book, but I also found it rough to compare the methods of French parenting that seem to work, in comparison to what comes across as stereo-typed American parenting. As an American parent, that's rough to take in - ya know? Sure, my daughter doesn't always sit still at dinner. And yes, we've been the horrible parents who have had to leave the restaurant and get our food to go - but there are other times that she's sitting like a princess (go back to my Cinderella Ate My Daughter book review for more on that concept - oy!) and we're having a grown-up discussion and forget she's at the table, or at least in the room.

I leave it up to you to decide what your thoughts are on this book.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon today!

* I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review. All opinions are clearly mine. You can buy your copy with my link and I'll make a few pennies and love you forever! *


  1. Is it really so cut and dry though? Parenting styles here vary dramatically, so I find it rather difficult to think that they all do the same thing over there. You know what I mean?

  2. I *think* that the fact that you got fired up says something (wonderful!) about the book!

    Thanks for the interesting suggestions and its review!

  3. It sounds like there are some things to learn from French culture and some things to avoid as well. I'm glad you enjoyed this book even if it did get you fired up a bit. :)

    Thanks from being on the tour!


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