Review: Bringing Up Bébé

loved this book. I really did. Now, I have not read many parenting/pregnancy books, and I don’t intend to, because I don’t think that it would necessarily be healthy for my mind or heart, but I am willing to read a few. This one was fun. It was a journalistic journey into an American mother living in France and asking anyone she could questions as to why French children were so different from American children. *Please note here that these are blatant stereotypes and generalizations, and Jeremy often reminded me that not all American children act the way that the book is talking about. Please also note that Jeremy was hesitant about me reading this, wondering if we are even interested in the end product of what French parenting produces. I’ll leave it at that.*

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman is a book on parenting in France, which is very informative and helpful, but is not a step-by-step or formula book. It is more of a look at philosophy and how the French view parenting, and subsequently how that influences what they do or don’t do in the home.

So, I will say right now, that I really enjoyed the book. It was well written, engaging, and helpful. That being said, I still followed Jeremy’s wise advice, “Chew the meat, spit out the bones.” I would not recommend anyone to take this book as bible for parenting without sifting through what is being said and why it is being said. Furthermore, it should be no secret that I hope to parent our little one in a Biblical manner, and there is no relation to the Bible or Gospel in this book, so the ideas were helpful, but they are submissive {in my life, anyway} to what God has to say in the Bible about parenting.

I do highly recommend this book to anyone involved in working with kids, or with kids of their own. It sparked lots of ideas, thoughts, questionings, and conversations over the last couple of weeks, and I actually think it may be one book I pick up again in the future (perhaps my own copy) with a highlighter and check back on a few things. And, it’s definitely floating around in my head as one of those books I’d include in baby shower gifts from now on {floating, mind you, so don’t expect anything!}

Now, that I’ve given my assessment of the book, I’d like to share some of the over-arching themes that I picked out of the book that I think will be helpful for me as I enter this world of parenthood.

*Motherhood should not equal guilt. The way we choose to raise our babies is that: a choice. Guilt does not benefit our babies, and motherhood is not a competition.

*Our babies are little humans. They should be treated as such – speak to them, involve them in decisions, explain things to them, and expect them to be able to understand and do things. At the same time, Druckerman also talks about not pushing the baby to develop too fast. This is the only chance they get to be kids, so don’t be in such a hurry to check the next developmental step off the list and miss out on the joy of life, and breathing (thanks, Kid President!)

*Life does not revolve around the baby. As parents (and especially mothers) we are often tempted to order our lives around this one little person. That is not how it is supposed to be. Children need to learn from an early age that they are part of a family, all of whom have their own needs, desires, and lives. They need to learn how to incorporate into that family structure. Mothers still need to be wives, and women (I would comment here about some of Druckerman’s ideas, but I don’t want anyone to hate me, so go read the book yourself!) But, suffice it to say that mothers should still have some time for themselves to feel like a person, and they should also have time for their husbands. This in no way means neglecting the child, but rather figuring out how the family works with new little people being thrown in the mix. 

*Children need freedom within boundaries. This is something I’m still thinking through, especially since I couldn’t succinctly explain what I’d learned to Jeremy. But, children need and actually want boundaries. They want there to be blacks and whites, and those only come about by parents utilizing a firm no. However, once children start to see where the boundaries are, they can benefit from learning how to make decisions and choices. They should have a measure of freedom within a set of boundaries.

Obviously, all of these things sound great, and they are sooooo easy for me to write right now, while Bug is just kicking away on my ribs and doing Olympic style flips from time to time. So, I’m not saying that these are necessarily going to be easy, but they are things I’m hoping to keep in mind. Also, I think that they align well with what the Bible teaches about parenting. So, these are some concepts I am hoping to keep in mind as this little person enters the world, and concepts that I think will help mould my parenting. 

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Or, what are you initial responses to the ideas I’ve shared above?

Comments

  1. lelisabeth

    I parrot Jeremy’s skepticism, but I was curious about this book! More as a conversation starter than as inspiration, but… I love the concepts you have taken from it! Especially freedom within boundaries. Still struggling explaining this to others, but we need to learn the consequences of our actions on our own terms sometimes! Thank you for the review!

    1. kylie

      Lauren, I think you would really like this book!! It was definitely helpful for me to think through, and I think I will probably want to skim it again in the future. In my opinion, it offered some good concepts that helped to think about balancing parenting (obviously, I don’t know this firsthand yet!! But, hopefully I will start learning it in the next few days!)

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