merican parents can't seem to catch a break. A year ago, we were told that Chinese "tiger" moms raise more-successful children than coddling Western parents. And now writer Pamela Druckerman has published a book, Bringing up Bebe, arguing that French parents are superior to their American counterparts, too. Drucker, an American who moved to Paris with her British husband 10 years ago, says French parents teach their kids how to "delay instant gratification" by refusing to cater to their every whim, and as a result, they bring up kids who don't gorge on snacks, don't interrupt, and don't throw tantrums. Are American parents really so inferior?
Maybe the French do have an edge: It sounds like parents in France have discovered a winning formula, says Samantha Schoech at Baby Center. By being firm — and not caving just to shut up a whining brat — they teach kids patience. And by instructing them to play by themselves, the French keep little ones from expecting to be "entertained" all the time. "Sounds pretty dreamy" — especially since they do it with "kindness, closeness, and love," instead of "spanking, yelling, time-outs or negotiations."
"Are the French better parents?"
But the French didn't invent firm parenting: I didn't buy the notion that tiger moms are superior because they make kids "do arpeggios till their fingers bleed," says Amy Wilson at The Huffington Post, "and I don't buy it now that I'm told les mamans françaises are way, way better than we are" because they put kids in their place. Druckerman acts like American childhood is "one long Willy Wonka Cruise" with no rules. But the firm parenting she admires is common in the U.S. — the French didn't invent it.
"Why '70s parents are superior to French parents"
And there is no single American parenting style: Enough with the "overgeneralizing," says Randye Hoder at The New York Times. The truth is, there is no "American parent" — we're Anglo, African-American, Asian and Hispanic; we're Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and atheist; and we're permissive, authoritative, and authoritarian. And plenty of American kids, of all kinds of parents, eat their vegetables, just like the French.
"Who says American parents are inferior?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Ukraine can fend off the Russians, in 7 simple steps
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- How to be more satisfied with your life, according to science
- These stunning travel photos remind us that we're all just amateurs with iPhones
- There's a number of reasons the grammar of this headline could infuriate you
Subscribe to the Week