Friday, December 13, 2013

Parenting like the Parisians

Contributor Post for Cropped Stories

I've written about French parents before. So it's not too much of secret when I tell you that I am a Cuban American parent who j'adores french parenting (whew! That's a whole lot of culturalness in just that one sentence.). Maybe that's because in the world - literally, the world - of parenting style, my style seemed to be aligned with that of Parisian parents.

Let me explain... 

My ideas of being a mom when I had my first bébé didn't seem to fit what I had always seen. It seemed not very American. Much of what I knew about parenting in the states included sacrifice and identity loss. Many conversations I heard revolved around how much of yourself you have to give up when you have kids in order to be a good parent. I spent all of my 20's being focused on me. When I got pregnant, I believed this change, this complete focus on another, would happen naturally when I gave birth. Like I would deliver a baby, a placenta, and a complete selfless attitude in one push. That didn't happen. Rats. By these standards, I was not a good parent. 

I couldn't verbalize it at the time - because I felt like a terrible mother to even think like this. I didn't want to say that I wanted more in my life than to just be a mom because wouldn't that seem like I loved my kid less than other mothers loved theirs? I was supposed to be enjoying every moment of motherhood. But I wasn't and I wanted more. I wanted to feel fuller.

When I discussed this with my employer and friend at the time, a woman I admired for being as good of a mom as she was at her distinguished career, she suggested I read Bring Up Bébé, a book written by an American Mom about French Parenting. "It'll help you see other ways of doing this," she gently nudged.

Until I picked up Pamela Druckerman's book, I convinced myself that I was the worst parent this side of the Atlantic. I realize now that I thought this not because I actually was a bad parent but because my ideas about parenting seemed to fall outside of the parenting borders that I had always known in the States. Turns out I wasn't being a bad American parent, I was being a good French one. I seemed to be working within the French cadre (frame) of parenting without knowing it. 

Once I was able to combine my French, American, and Cuban fusion of parenting knowledge, having bébé was much less stressful because a thought was born.... I could be any kind of parent I wanted to be. 

Since reading Bringing Up Bébé, I have read other books on all types of global parenting. No one way is right. No one place has it all figured out. Like everything else in life, where you grow up and what you are surrounded by is what you think is Gospel, or standard. But it's not. It's just location.

French parenting isn't perfect and I'm sure not every French parent parents the same, but overall they have some secrets that work.  

And these are some favorites...
Parenting like the Parisians via Cropped Stories
Photo collage courtesy of Cropped Stories


  1. I just wanted to tell you that I loved your post over at Cropped Stories!! The differences are interesting...I think we can all learn a little from it as well!

  2. Michelle... THANK YOU! This comment for some reason went to my SPAM which is why I'm just seeing it now. The differences are quite interesting which is great because there is no wrong way to do this job. Thank you for coming over to DTWB and sharing your comments!


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