The French vs. the Yankees: Parenting

We’ve all be in a restaurant where there’s a family eating (attempting to eat) with one of their children in the midst of a full blown ‘meltdown.’  It’s so common in the US, that we don’t really bat an eye at it.  But, as this article points out, something that the French, a nation with whom the US has a love-hate relationship, have down far better than us, is child-rearing.

It basically boils down to this: French parents do not make their children the centers of their existence, and the child behaves accordingly.  They’re allowed to be around adults, but when they do, it’s adult time.  French parents are involved in the rearing of their offspring, but not to the point of letting the wee ones take over their life completely.  And while I realize that I’m from Michigan and not France*, this sounds very much like my upbringing.  My parents, while loving, were not about to subordinate their existence to mine, or my sister.  And, on the whole, I’d say we turned out alright.

People always bitch about ‘kids these days.’  It’s one of the few times that I begin to actually feel ‘old.’  But while people have been bitching about kids more and more nowadays, I feel that some of the criticism is just.  Granted, I don’t have children, but that shouldn’t preclude me from being able to make a few observations about the point.  The more I think about it, the more that I realize more and more parents allow their lives to be utterly consumed by their children, and that sends a distinct and clear message to the child: You’re the most important thing in the world.  Here’s the thing: they’re not, and giving them that message is not good parenting.  Let’s take a page from the French.  After all, when it comes to quality of life, I’d say they know what they’re doing.

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*According to my father, we are actually a bit French.

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