Thursday, February 16, 2012

Enough With The Bringing Up Bebe BS

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my take on the French vs. American parenting debate, but that was before Pamela Druckerman became ubiquitous on US airwaves. I have now watched or listened to the author of Bringing Up Bebe do several interviews and I have had enough of her nonsense. I am surprised that someone who used to write for the Wall Street Journal would write a whole book based on conversations with a few women and make generalisations on "the French", but I guess it's an easy way to make a few bucks.
I heard Ms Druckerman Tuesday on NPR's Tell Me More and a few things she said just made me mad.

Here are some of the statements I take issue with:

-"French moms were telling me that their kids could sleep through the night at two or three months old. Whereas with my American friends, it was nine months, a year old."

This is complete crap. I know people in France who had terrible sleepers, and I have many friends in the US whose kids slept through the night within the first few months. If the French had such a great method for getting babies to sleep at night, don't you think I would have known about it? This statement implies that the people whose children aren't sleeping through the night are doing something wrong, and I really take offense to that.

- " I think one stronghold in France - and this is something I talk about a lot in the book - is around food. And I would say the French style of making kids taste food many times, of serving vegetables first, serving food in courses, of only having one snack a day, really are things that you can do in any country."

Somehow, Ms Druckerman seems to think that if you do this, it will magically make your child a great eater. Well let me tell you, I have done all this and more, and there is no miracle. A eats only what and when he feels like eating, and offering a variety of foods has nothing to do with it. Again, I know terrible eaters in France, and great eaters in the US. and vice-versa. The bottom line is that toddlers exercise their free will, and any child psychologist will tell you that  their power over the food they eat is their power over you. That has nothing to do with being offered broccoli and Camembert.

- I don't have an exact quote but I have heard Ms. Druckerman repeat over and over her story about how French kids behave in restaurants. I really would like to know where she sees all these well-behaved children, because in general, French people DO NOT take their kids to restaurants.

- Finally, another woman, Judith Warner, who wrote the modern motherhood book titled Perfect Madness, was on the show and she added to the conversation "Pamela is right to talk about diet since, obviously, obesity is such a problem in the United States, as well as eating disorders. I think that the French really do something right in their focus on balance in food, as in all things. "
Maybe these ladies should learn to use the past tense. What they are saying may have been true before, but France is quickly catching up in the obesity trends. Nearly 19% of French children are currently obese according to INPES (the French National Institute for Prevention and Health Education) (only 3% back in 1960).

Glad I got that off my chest.


  1. as a Paris mom let it be known that I ABSOLUTELY agree, this book is ABSOLUTE nonsense except some few comments.

    1. Merci Pauline, glad to have the backing of a "real Parisian mom"!