American/French parenting, from a French expat perspective

French parenting. What a fancy way to relate to kids manners. Pamela Druckerman certainly brought it up with her famous book: Bringing Up Bébé, published in 2012.

But what does a French expatriate think of it?

First and foremost, I arrived in the US on December 2010. I loved it, I still love it, I would not leave the country for anything. Even if the culture is not as close as we can think it is. One of the biggest contrast, along with food would probably be kids behavior. I always noticed a difference but I started getting more curious about it when I was pregnant. The only way for me to understand the disparity was to read Bringing Up Bébé.  I was not disappointed. Druckerman did a great job pointing out what was the most normal things for French, the most unrealistic for Americans.

French parents teach young ones proper rules (understand “guidelines” if rules is too strong), as early as possible so it becomes a basic as they grow. Each and everyone of the guidelines have an impact on the following. It is like a snowball effect. Let’s take food for example. If you feed your kid with Mac & Cheese, Cheerios, meatballs and Gold Fish (it is an extreme case of course), you cannot expect him/her to eat vegetables at 5,6 or  7 years old because you decided to. It is best to start early and continue, so fruits and veggies are as normal as Mac & Cheese or fries.

My observation is that American babies and toddlers tend to take control more than their  French cousins . Why is that? Read More »

Breastfeeding: France’s apathy , USA’s pressure and UNICEF’s misleading data

Formula vs breast milk. I have decided to write about it as soon as I witnessed the stress women were facing with today’s society view on breastfeeding.

I was a breastfed baby, and always heard positive talks about it from my mother. This pretty much summarizes my knowledge on the subject. Besides my mother, none of the mothers in my family breastfed. By choice. Because in France, we are not ashamed nor pressured to say “I do not want to breastfeed my baby”. No judgement whatsoever. On the other hand: the USA. The country is well known for having a strong opinion about it. It is a public opinion often broadcast on TV-shows and movies.

Personally, I felt like giving it a try. I educated myself on the subject towards the end of my pregnancy. I didn’t want to pressure myself by reading tons of potentially scary stories. I wanted it to come naturally.  And it did. I loved it.

But, the more I nursed my daughter, the more pressure I felt from the outside (among Americans). For personal/medical reasons, I had to feed my baby half breast milk/half formula.  I sometimes felt embarrassed talking about it. I would here: “do you still give her formula?”. Well, you know… my baby has to eat at some point so…Yes I still feed her with formula. I felt like I had to justify myself for it.

Long story short. It was clear to me that the two countries were not on the same page. Pamela Druckerman (author of Bringing up bébé) confirmed my first impression: “French mothers barely breastfeed. About 63 percent of French mothers do some breastfeeding. A bit more than half are still nursing when they leave the maternity hospital, and most abandon it altogether soon after that. Long-term nursing is extremely rare. In the United States, 74 percent of mothers do at least some breastfeeding, and a third are still nursing exclusively at four months.”

She is an American in Paris, I am a French in Boston. We had the same feeling.

Until I decided to do some research to understand what was really happening. And here are the numbers from governmental sources:Read More »