Thursday, 01 November 2012
I'm very interested in parenting books because it's my one job these days and I need to excel in it. I heard about the book "Bringing Up Bebe" while still in California. I didn't hear a review on it, but it intrigued me nonetheless because it was a window into how other people parent.
For the most part, this book has changed my outlook on how I should raise Simone and Max. In France, parents try to create an independence in their children that is not found in America. This helps the kids entertain themselves when their mom or dad have to do important things like cook or clean the house. French parents also do not let their children interrupt conversations among adults, nor do they let the children impede on parental quiet time in the evening. These are issues I have with Simone and Max and it's time I get francophile on their butts!
Simone is always interrupting Michael and me when we are in the car talking about ... anything. It can be as inane as a joke or it can be as serious as a discussion on where to allot our savings for the month. If Simone has a thought, she has to let it out. I'd now like her to learn to respect my time with Michael and not interrupt us. I'd like her to wait her turn. Before reading this book, I didn't put much thought into immediately responding to Simone. Between her and Michael, she is the younger and more helpless being and I felt she needed more urgent attention. Of course I would roll my eyes when it turned out all she wanted to do was show me the size of the booger she caught, but my gut reaction was always, "Tend to Simone!!!!"
My issues with Max are telling him "No." I've actually been refusing him things like chocolate in the evening, extra TV, too much yogurt, going outside, etc. But I've been feeling weighed down by the constant battle I have with him. Reigning him in takes so much energy and his whining protests grate on my nerves. The book has given me courage that I'm doing the right thing. Bringing Up Bebe encourages telling the kids to "wait" because it makes the kid practice patience and independence. If I don't give Max an extra TV show, he's forced to find other ways of entertaining himself. The book assures me that Max will eventually get the notion that he can't have all that he wants when he wants it, and my need to say no will diminish.
I don't agree with everything that French parents do. They are very adamant about sending babies to daycare as soon as the mother is able to return to work. I agree that this lets the mother return to cultivating her own sense of self by letting her go back to whatever she did before children. But I don't think it's as vital as the French make it out to be. A mother can do things for herself outside of a conventional career. C'est possible.
French parents also don't glorify breastfeeding as much as American parents do. I for one think it's AWESOME! The author claims that French mothers stop breastfeeding early because it messes up your tits by making them sag too much in the end. That, to me, sounds too far on the scale of preserving a mother's identity. To be in denial of the changes that motherhood inflict on the body does not seem healthy. And then to do it at the cost of giving your kids nutrients from breastmilk! Just so you can have perky boobies? My friend Alicia said her mom had a great rack after having 9 children because she wore a bra to bed even at night. Maybe that's the key!
After reading this book, I'm going to put the kids to bed earlier so I can have more time to myself. Sure, it'll be time doing stuff for the kids, but it's an alone time that rejuvenates me. I'm also going to feel less guilty trying to schedule a solo outing every weekend! I'm going to play less with Max when we're on the playground at the park if we're there with other kids and their mothers.
Vive La Gigi!
Are you familiar with other International parenting styles?