with Talyaa Liera
I'm Talyaa, the poster child for the concept that there's no one right way to be a parent. I went from stay-at-home attachment-parenting mom of four to being the non-custodial parent, working as a professional writer and channel-psychic. Let's talk about throwing away the parenting manual and exploding the myths and mystique of motherhood!
Check out my personal blog at Juxtapositioning.
Trust the French to take something we Americans think we do great at and make it better. Like food. You like french fries, right? In France they’re called frites: delectably long super-skinny bites of salty potato-y crispness. Terribly addictive. Impossible to turn down. Totes yum.
Now the French have turned their attention to mothering. OMG! French mothers rock. They have this mothering thing down, it would seem. And you know what hurts worse? Turns out they’ve been rocking the mother thing for years and we just didn’t notice.
French kids, apparently, are part robot (or they wear shock collars). They are well behaved in public. They are frequently taken to restaurants, where they remain in their seats and speak in their indoor voices. They eat what they are given. They go to bed when it’s bedtime. I know! Hard to believe, right? When your one-year-old still doesn’t sleep through the night or when your preschooler stages a blood-curdling coup in the candy aisle at the grocery store, his ear-splitting shrieks alerting every judgy adult within half a mile?
Want to know the single thing French mothers do that American mothers do not?
They say no.
We would do well to take a page of the French Mothering Handbook. If there was one.
My kids were always pretty good in public. I took them to many restaurants when they were little. Including in France, thank you. My kids rock. And maybe I as a mother had something to do with it and maybe I just got kids more on the robot end of the behavior spectrum (or maybe I scared them into submission, she says with a maniacal laugh, rubbing her hands gleefully). At any rate, the French thing doesn’t seem that hard. So why is it so hard?
Maybe there is something to this idea that French mothers are on to something we could use more of. Mother of three Pamela Druckerman wrote a book about her experiences raising her kids in France, “Bringing Up Bébé.” And she’s all over the mommyhood news today. Here she is in The New Yorker. And here on NPR. And I think we could learn something from what she says.
Besides the thing of “American mothers do not know how to say no”, Druckerman makes some other salient points about the differences in parenting styles between the U.S. and France. According to my son (who, in full disclosure, is attending high school in France this year), it’s much like the differences in parenting styles between me and his father. Oh, I’m not the French one. Ouch.
Parents have a life of their own. I have struggled with this. Have you? I mean, I know I have a life of my own, and yet I want so badly to make things awesome for my kids. Which for mothers seems to translate into sacrifice and giving up.
You are not defined by your children or the fact that you have children. When I became a mother, it was weird. Like suddenly I had a label and had to fit myself into that label. Like mothers are not supposed to also be people.
Make kids taste new foods. Not just once but many times. I suspect the long term rewards for this far outweigh the short term suckiness of scraping half-chewed green beans off the walls not once but many times.
One sweet snack a day builds a healthy attitude toward sugar. I love this one. The idea is that if kids get something sweet every day, they don’t get crazy with wanting it and eat like a human the rest of the time. I think it’s a win.
What do you think? Can you put a little ooh-la-laa into your parenting style? Or maybe you do already?
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