French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian Parenting

Catherine Crawford, Author
Catherine Crawford. Ballantine, $16 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-345-53326-5
Open Ebook - 126 pages - 978-0-345-53598-6
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Brooklyn-based parenting writer Crawford, the mother of two young daughters, claims that we have lost control of our children and our lives. Frustrated by her kids’ propensity for throwing tantrums, she notices that the children of her French friends (Brooklyn has a large French population, she observes) are much better behaved. In this charming and clever parenting chronicle, the author decides to “Frenchify” her family, delving more deeply into French parenting practices, interviewing parents, touring France, and taking stock of her own home life in an effort to find the key to why French children seem so polite and cooperative. Crawford reveals that French children sit quietly at the dinner table, don’t talk back, don’t throw tantrums in grocery stores, and somehow manage to skip over the terrible twos. French youngsters come across as respectful and sweet, with a minimum of meltdowns. In France, Crawford discovers, parents are “chiefs” and their rights come first, with privacy and the marriage taking precedence over the demands of children. (French moms, she also finds, tend to give up breast feeding after three months or less.) On the downside, the French spank (an American no-no), tend toward public humiliation as a method of keeping kids in line, and may fall short addressing special needs kids in school. Though some may prefer their naughty kids just the way they are, this breezy, entertaining study of parenting a la Paris may prompt others to pour a café au lait and rethink their strategies. (Mar.)
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