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French parenting: qu’en pensez-vous ?

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Is the way you bring up your children determined by the country in which you live? If this is the case, is one particular nation better at raising children than another? Or are children simply the product of the parents who raise them?

Our French and francophile friends became involved in a Facebook discussion on this topic, based on reading an article about French and American parenting. As it happened, most participants were American.

There are many viewpoints and possible angles to the discussion, so please add your thoughts at the bottom of the page. Here are some titbits…

Claudia: I’m French and I don’t like how French parents raise their children. They often forget the personality of their children and they are too hard with them…

 

 

Sarah Taylor - French parenting: qu'en pensez-vous ? - Ma Vie Francaise - My French Life - www.MyFrenchLife.orgIt’s easy to recognise French children: they shout, they cry, their parents shout… Personally, I made a mix between French education and American education, between Dr Dodson and Françoise Dolto.

Amy: I worked as an au pair for two French families… French children talk back to their parents… and their parents would just smile and think it’s adorable that the child was standing up for him/herself. That was the only thing I couldn’t accept.

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I did like how focused the French were on other activities like sports and going outside. However, I think sometimes it made them value TV more because they were hardly ever allowed to watch it… I also know that having child time and adult time does affect the children.

I did like how focused the French were on other activities like sports and going outside. However, I think sometimes it made them value TV more because they were hardly ever allowed to watch it… I also know that having child time and adult time does affect the children.

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Amber: Children need love, but they need education as well. In my opinion, they are not the same thing. I agree that many American parents let their kids get what they want a lot of the time, but I have seen my fair share of temper tantrums in France, too.

Janet: Sometimes Americans go overboard in making sure their children feel loved: but I think French parents often go overboard in disciplining them harshly… Moderation in all things!*

Nyssa: There is an obvious difference, but I can’t put my finger on it… What I love is that the French children are MUCH better educated than us Americans.

All of my students need to learn 2 or 3 languages, they know their geography/history better than most American adults, and they are studying crazy things like physics and advanced math when they’re 12 years old… I’m absolutely blown away by their smarts!*


HotTacos EnchiladasThere is no such thing as a ‘French way’ or an ‘American way’. Parenting styles are an individual trait… I’m an American who was taking college courses in high school, was bilingual when I graduated, and I could point to Luxembourg on a map. The same thing could be said for my wife who comes from France… Children are products of the parents who raise them and as a parent, you will get out what you put in, be that in America [or] France.

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Randy: I think the problem with the French parenting model mentioned in this article, is that it creates a ‘prescribed’ person sometimes void of individualism because they have to follow a pack or the ‘norm’… Of course I’m generalising, just like this article is. Personally, I think there should be a balance of both, American individualism and prescribed norms!

Belinda (AUS): What I hope the book doesn’t do is paint a picture so that every French parent is asked sarcastically if they’ll withhold food to only allow a snack at 4pm or if they’re enjoying their silent evening ‘parent time’.

And, now we would love to know what you think…

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This is the second in a series of articles, in which we hope to engage you, the  Ma Vie Française community in informal discussion, banter and debate about issues relating to French culture, politics, cultural differences, social issues etc. We are open to other suggestions, too!

We look forward to hearing your opinion. Don’t be shy, we want to hear and try to understand the perspective of our diverse membership.

Image credits:
1 & 2 Pamela Druckerman
3. David Comp
4. Emmanuelle Fradin for The Wall Street Journal
5. New Yorker Online.
6. freeflyer09 on Flickr


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1 Comment




  1. Fitz
    8 years ago

    Tu sais pourquoi le vieil adage dit (du moins en anglais): les enfants devraient être visibles mais pas audibles* [je mets pas de guillemets car c’est pas verbatim] [Traduction: Children should be seen and not heard]?
    Parce que le contraire est vraiment effrayant/déroutant. (Réfléchis-y)