Did you know that in France kids have their very own swear word that is actually an ok, or shall I say, approved swear? caca boudin (pronounced caca – buddah) which roughly translates to, yes, you guessed it, POOP SAUSAGE. I’m not afraid to admit to you that as 30 something grown girl I found this amusing myself. What I don’t want to admit is that I shared this unnecessary information with my kids. It turns out poop sausage has quite a ring to it and is now on constant repeat between my 3 talking children. Although, I give Liam Brave the award for saying it with the most conviction and enthusiasm.
Now, if you are wondering where I happened upon this French fact it is from the book Bringing Up Bebe, which this post is really all about. I told you awhile back that I was reading it and quite enjoying it. There has been a lot of buzz about this book as of late and there is good reason why. It’s a good book. I only wished I would have read it 9 years and 4 kids ago. If your a new mom or soon to be mom, get it. If your kids are still trainable (meaning not yet teenagers-ha) than I still recommend the book.
Yes, I admit I am a full on Francophile but truly the book is well written, the culture fascinating and the pointers are worthy of implementing. I’m not saying the French do everything better but I am saying they do a lot of things right and author Pamela Druckerman (an American mom, raising her kids in France) communicates the differences between raising children the French way and the American way in a very common sensical and humorous way. I’m pretty certain you will like this book if; you like learning about different cultures, you are interested in different parenting techniques, you like good writing, you wish you lived in France (oh wait that is me), you want to raise decent little human beings.
The way of thinking in this book, or shall I say, the French way of raising kids, is honestly, a bit of the old fashioned way. It’s a lot of common sense based theories, really. Things that perhaps, if they were presented in a book here (America) would likely be looked down upon because they don’t give the children extreme amounts of freedom of choice or are not modern and new. But since these theories are French than they are much more acceptable and, “oui, tré chic!” I personally resonated with much of the book as my parenting style is a little more old fashioned on many a matters.
Here are a few of my favorite take aways from the book that are so worth sharing:
BONJOUR– saying bonjour / hello is very important, more important than the “please and thank you.” You are acknowledging another person (likely an adult) and also that children are people too (this is a big one that I want to work on. I always want my children to give a polite hello and acknowledge a guest or individuals we come in contact with and I think the idea of children being able to have a conversation with an adult is an important one. You don’t see much of that these days).
CADRE – This is a term that describes the French parenting ideal. The whole concept of setting limits and parameters for little ones but within those limits freedom is given. Although French parents are very serious about their “No’s” (in fact, they even make their “No’s” stronger) they also believe in saying yes, most of time. You can’t forbid everything. Interesting, as I have been thinking a lot on the idea of saying “yes,” more.
GOÛTER – An afternoon snack for kids eaten around 4:30. The only snack of the day. Yes, you read right….One snack! This concept was shocking but also mesmerizing as mine try to graze all day long. I’m cutting back to two snacks. I’d try one, maybe if we actually lived in France. And a few other interesting facts on food, starting with my favorite…chocolate is basically another food group and “a nutritional fixture rather than a forbidden treat,” writes Druckerman. I knew I wasn’t alone in this belief. In fact, a chocolate sandwich, as in a baguette with a piece of dark chocolate in the center, is sometimes eaten for breakfast and is a classic French goûter. So many other great points on eating (this is what the French are all about and thus many a more bits you will want to read, like the fact that tasting everything is more important than eating everything).
Overall the French may come across as more strict. I read many a things like:
*Not everything needs an explanation (thank God because it’s tiring trying to explain “why” all of the time. I guess “because I said so” isn’t such a bad thing)
*Kids need limits (but of course they need their freedom too–within those limits)
*They don’t spare their kids from every misery. It will on set them up for great discomfort later in life. Getting a shot at the doctor is just a regular part of life and should be treated that way.
*Don’t try to resolve everything for children. Let them work things out on their own…maybe even a fight out on the playground …le gasp!
While some might view some of these ideas as controlling (and the many more discussed in the book), I found them anything but. In fact, I found them somewhat freeing.
And I also found French mom’s to be fascinating. I’m far from French in these areas but I feel challenged in all of the right ways.
You may want to know that:
– The ideal Parisian woman is clam, discrett, a bit remote, and extremely decisive.
– “American women typically demonstrate our commitment by worrying and showing how much we are willing to sacrifice while Frenchwomen signal their commitment by projecting calm and flaunting the fact they haven’t renounced pleasure.”
-French women don’t do guilt – in fact, they consider it unhealthy. They reassure each other with the fact that the perfect mother doesn’t exist. (Now this is fascinating to me. My dad always told me that guys don’t do guilt but I could never even fathom a women not doing guilt, let alone a mother. I mean guilt is my middle name. Perhaps, the reassurance from other women plays a big part in this guilt free version of motherhood?)
-They don’t smother their children. They believe it is unhealthy for mothers and children to spend all of their time together.
-Children do not run their parents lives. French mom’s sit and talk at the park while the kids play on their own and French parents enjoy meals and conversation during the meal. You don’t give up your self as a person and individual.
There are so many other points, ideas, thoughts and takeaways that are worth discussing. I just wanted to give you a glimpse and share a few things that really resonated with me and that I’d like to implement with my, not so little, family.
So tell me, have you read Bringing Up Bebe? What did you find most fascinating? You’re favorite takeaway? And if you haven’t read the book, tell me, do you find the above as informative and as interesting as I do?
P.P.S. Do not tell your kids about caca boudin a.k.a. poop sausage
image tartlette flickr