Growing up sage

Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé was a rather different read from the usual parenting books so far.  I was quite surprised that French parenting (in the early years at least) resonated with my own East meets West blend so far.  I don’t agree with it all, esp. the non-attachment-friendly actions and a rather socialist approach to do what others do with minimal individual affirmation.  

YET I do appreciate some elements, mainly:

  • Help him grow up sage (wise and calm) as well as éveillé (awakened, alert, stimulated). A child in control of himself, absorbed in activities with doucement (gently, carefully), mindful of himself with no n’importe quoi acts without regard or consideration for others 
  • Have a cadre (framework) where firm limits are set within which tremendous freedom is given
  • Focus on the right éducation (upbringing) rather than discipline
  • Teach him to attend (wait… stop!) by self entertainment/distraction and not be an enfant roi  who is constantly at the center of attention. Building patience and delayed gratification will help with the caprices during the tantrum-throwing frustrations
  • Reinforce FOUR magic words: “Hello, “Bye,” “Please” and “Thank You” 
  • Small acts of foolishness (bêtise) call for moderate responses but major acts require a firm non, les gros yeux (that LOOK of admonishment) and punishment with serious consequences
  • Equilibre (balance) includes not letting being a parent overwhelm your life. Don’t become a daily maman-taxi (tough one, that) 
  • Goûter (afternoon snack) is the ONLY snack of the day beyond the three square meals, ideally together with family
  • Allow autonomie, a blend of independence and self-reliance early on, including separation from parents such as école maternelle (free public pre-school) from the year the child turns 3 and colonie de vacances (kids’ summer camps) from four years on
  • Practice complicité, the mutual understanding that parents and caregivers try to develop with children from birth.  Small babies are perceived as rational beings, with whom adults can have reciprocal, respectful relationships. Note: several baby experts would disagree…
  • … which leads to French “sleep teaching” aka the PAUSE, typically by 4 months. My take on this is not that every newborn parent must sleep train by letting their baby cry.  Rather, consider waiting a little before responding to let baby learn to sleep on his own in between cycles, and then enter to determine if it truly is hunger, a dirty diaper, anxiety, et al.  This gradual “wait” approach worked for us even though we never liked or resorted to full cry-it-out
Caveat: The lowest grade I got in college was in French, so pardon any errors
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