Bringing Up Bébé Questions and Quotes

Photo credit: Wall Street Journal

Well, even though I waited an extra day, not many people ended up providing a question and quote from the book. Fortunately the ones who did (thank you!) provided very though provoking prompts indeed.

The next–and penultimate–step of the book club is to write a post reflecting on what you read. You can choose a question or quote provided below, you can respond to your own prompt or you can write a review or a reflection of the book in general. Basically you can write whatever you want!

Posts should go up by 11:59pm on Monday, May 14th. When you post your response, send me the link and I will include it on my post on Tuesday, May 15th. Then, we will read each others’ posts and discuss in the comment sections.

If you still want to add a question or quote email me or add one in the comments section and I’ll add it ASAP.

Happy posting!


“I hear other American moms say ‘I’m a bad mother,’ too. The phrase has become a kind of verbal tic. Emily says ‘I’m a bad mother’ so often that, though it sounds negative, I realize she must find the phrase soothing.  For American mothers, guilt is an emotional tax we pay for going to work, not buying organic vegetables, or plopping our kids in front of the television so we can surf the Internet or make dinner. If we feel guilty, then it’s easier to do these tings. We’re not just selfish. We’ve ‘paid’ for our lapses.”

* * *

“There are no fixed rules…You have to keep changing what you do”

* * *

Quote from a French parent: “In the US, sometimes I have the feeling that if it’s not difficult for you, you have to feel bad about it.”


Did you find that you already possessed (or hoped to possess) some “French” parenting characteristics?  Did the book make you want to adopt some?  Do you prefer the “American” way in any of the parenting areas the book covered?

* * *

I love the French custom described by the author of both adults and children greeting everyone they come into contact with by saying bonjour. As she explained even when being greeted by someone at a restaurant or in a store this custom should be observed, “Saying bonjour acknowledges the other person’s humanity. It signals that you view her as a person, not just someone who’s supposed to serve you.” She also discusses that by the child acknowledging the other person we as adults are counting them as a full person as well.

Personally, I think teaching our children to recognize others we come into contact with, although a simple gesture can have a farther reaching impact. It is not only a wonderful way for them to see the importance of respecting others & acknowledging the inherit worth of each person it can also serve to instill in them a sense of confidence in themselves. What are your thoughts on this French custom? Is it a habit you’d like to introduce to your children?

* * *

I was struck by the message expressed in My Child book–the one proliferated by France’s public health department–that the relationship between a baby and mother should be balanced, that the needs of the mother are as important as the needs of the child. That does not seem to be the message spread in the United States, where mothers are expected to make intense sacrifices for the well being of their children, especially in their first year. Why do you think the American message requires so mothers to give up so much for their children, employing guilt as an inspiration? Which message do you most identify with?

* * *

The WHO reports that France has the highest level of clinical depression in the world. This is surprising, given Druckerman’s description of French parenting when it comes to helping children face frustration. Druckerman says the French practice of discipline is about ‘Making kids face up to limitations and deal with frustration (which) turns them into a happier more resilient people.’ In light of the WHO report, do you think Druckerman is maybe painting an overly bright picture of the success of this style of parenting? Or is she maybe sweeping aside other practices which may give a more balanced view of French parenting, warts and all?”

* * *

Questions about Quotes

“The playground is designed for toddlers to safely climb and fall….Then a white, upper-middle-class mother walks in with her toddler.  She follows him around in miniature equipment, while keeping up a nonstop monologue…”  Page 548/549

First I have to say this paragraph in the book made me laugh out loud.  I see this EVERYDAY at the playground.  As a former elementary school teacher I can’t tell you how much I used to be bothered by parents who just would NOT let their kids play on their own. Does North American society now dictate that we are to control ever aspect of our children’s lives even if it means that we put parameters around prime opportunities (i.e.:  playing on the rocking horse by themselves) for them to use their imagination in play?

 * * *

When we Americans talk about work-life balance, we’re describing a kind of juggling, where we’re trying to keep all parts of our lives in motion without screwing up any of them too badly. The French also talk about l’équilibre. But they mean it differently. For them, it’s about not letting any one part of life – including parenting – overwhelm the rest. It’s more like a balanced meal, where there’s a good mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and sweets.

Do you think this is a valid assessment of how American parents tend to live their lives? Do YOU live your life like that…or do you live more like the French ideal? How do you find your equilibrium?

* * *

“College-educated mothers rarely ditch their careers, temporarily or permanently, after having kids.  When I tell Americans that I have a child, they usually ask, ‘Are you working?’ Whereas French people just ask, ‘What do you do?'”

The question I’d pose is, how possible is it to achieve this kind of peaceful family atmosphere in the context of US culture?  Without paid maternity/paternity benefits,crèche-quality child care, and an entire society skilled in the art of éducation and cadre-building, can it be done here?  Do you think there’s a downside that the author overlooks?

* * *

“…[a french mother] also teaches her kids a related skill: learning to play by themselves. ‘The most important thing is that he learns to be happy by himself.'”

What do you think of leaving young babies (6-12 months) alone for a fair amount of time (20-45 minutes), if they are playing happily on their own? Neglectful, or smart parenting?

9 responses

  1. I haven’t read the book (I knew I would not have time to do this book club but look forward to the next one) but can’t wait to read everyone’s responses!

  2. Pingback: “Bringing Up Bebe: Book Review, Part One” | Too Many Fish to Fry

  3. Pingback: “Bringing Up Bebe”: Book Review, Part Two | Too Many Fish to Fry

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