Have you heard the news that French women, apparently, are superior when it comes to the art of parenting? That's right, guys. Not only are French women better at wearing stripes and red lipstick, and eating baguettes to their heart's content without ever getting even the tiniest bit chubby, but they are also geared to raise your child much better than, well, you. Pretty fascinating load of shit, isn't it?
I have lots of issues with the above mentioned book/article, and truthfully, I don't feel the need to get into all of them here. But let's discuss one major one, shall we? THERE IS NO ONE/RIGHT WAY TO PARENT. It does not exist. For those of you who have children and are currently trying to reach the Holy Grail of perfect parenting, please save yourself any further grief and stop while you're ahead. If there are any of you who read this blog who are expecting their first child or who plan on having children one day, you are the lucky ones because you got to be in on this dirty little secret before the rest of us [who've had to learn the hard way]. And for those of you who truly believe that you are in fact doing it right, and that your techniques definitely reign supreme, I hate to have to be the one to tell you this, but you're the most fucked of us all. Parenting is about doing your best with the situation given at hand. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you fail. Sometimes parenting is the most rewarding thing you will ever do, but other times, it's the most heart wrenching.
Parenting is not as black and white as "not being afraid to say 'no'", or "always making sure you're teaching your child the importance of being patient". And this is coming from a girl who believes that EVERYTHING is black and white. You want to know the real reason I take a handful of cheerios to restaurants when we go out with Cheech? Partly because babies can be restless and have a difficult time communicating that they're feeling that way, but mostly because I am a respectful person. Just as much as I don't want to hear your baby screaming while I'm trying to enjoy my lunch, I don't want you to have to hear mine. Am I teaching her to be impatient? I don't know, maybe? What I do know I'm teaching her, by using the power of distraction, is that there are places where screaming and yelling are acceptable and even welcome (a playground, for example), and there are places where that behavior is not tolerated, and therefore nipped in the bud. As she gets older, obviously, this practice will have to be tweaked, and she will have to exercise more restraint. All this said, I can't help but feel that this has more to do with common sense than French parenting.
This post is not at all meant to be an attack on the French, or the way they supposedly ALL parent. I have to admit that I love, love, love France, and before Cheech was born, Joe and I even considered moving there for a while. And despite the reputation Americans have so ignorantly given the French here stateside, I have nothing but amazing things to say about French people. They are truly the loveliest, most hospitable group I've ever come across in my travels. And if they do happen to be superior parents, I'm willing to bet quite a bit it's because they don't waste their time falling into the ridiculous and competitive American dilemma of "who's the best?".
Photo via George Eastman House