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How to Bring Up Bébé According to Book "French Children Don't Throw Food"

How to Bring Up Bébé According to Book "French Children Don't Throw Food"

French men are better lovers. French women don’t get fat. French children don't throw food. Stereotypes in all their glory. 

Or not?

We’ll leave the sweet perks of being a citizen of Mars or Venice in France till later and focus on our precious gems. All over the globe, loving moms and dads seem to use the same ‘set of rules’ to raise the next generation.

Or not?

When it comes to childcare in France, it seems like everything you thought you knew about raising a kid went up in smoke. In the book “French Children Don't Throw Food," its author Pamela Druckerman sheds light on the covered-with-legends French parenting style and how it differs from American family values. Are moms and dads of la République really virtuous parents?

Or not?

conscious approach to bringing up children

What Is French Parenting Based on?

There’s something that the French value unconditionally – unity, equality, sophistication, and style. Regardless of the part of life you take a look at in the land of croissants, you’ll notice how its habitants make sure to add beauty (and admire it!) to every aspect of life. But the reality is that family is the cornerstone of French culture. The synonym of happiness.

French family values, as the backbone of raising kids, include (but are not limited to) some major principles that roof the life of the whole family. So, what is French parenting based on?

  • Respect each other’s boundaries. When raising children in France, you set clear expectations of what is/isn’t appropriate in all existing social situations from celebrations to eating and meeting friends.
  • Balance is the key. Something that most people, including American parents, struggle with – juggling work and family life. In a French family, this balance is a must to keep everyone happy. Focusing on a job at the expense of family life or overemphasizing the little ones over work is considered equally wrong.
  • You’re the boss. Whatever happens in your family micro world, mom and dad are the decision-making center.

French Parenting Tips

While most of you would say that adopting French methods and somehow applying them to American parenting outside of France is a utopia, we would say, “Why actually not?”

Pamela Druckerman, an American mother that raised her children in France, investigated the wisdom of parenting in the country of grande couture. In the runaway New York Times bestseller, she shares some of the French parenting tips that, she believes, are the key to bringing up un bébé that doesn’t throw food. We’ve listed some of the recommendations hoping they will help you feel more fulfilled as a parent.

American family values

1. Take Care of Child's Development

“The French believe that kids feel confident when they’re able to do things for themselves, and do those things well,” adds Pamela Druckerman to her reflections on French family values. Independent play should be an integral part of the routine. The very moment your kiddo realizes s/he can do something without parents’ involvement, you’ve got a clear sign - the time for autonomy and maturity has come (yay!). Your part here is to provide what your little champ might need to have a fruitful alone time. Based on their interests, consider buying children's books, wooden Montessori toys, puzzles, dolls, or any other items that you know the little fickle creature won’t lose interest in within a nanosecond.

2. Don't Suffer From a Strong Sense of Guilty

There’s something that French parents can boast of – having a life outside of the kid’s universe. There’s no helicopter parenting, and the earth won’t stop turning if you have some me-time. According to "Bringing Up Bébé,” the French have learned to be involved in kids’ routines without being obsessive. “They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children and that there’s no need to feel guilty about this,” says Pamela.

3. Grow Patience in Your Children

No throwing tantrums in a shopping mall is a dream that never comes true for most parents. Meanwhile, the French teach their kids to be patient. They say ‘no’, and they mean it. As a result, the kid is trained to have patience. This rule applies to all ages, including newborns. While loads of mommies all over the globe tend to jump on their babies at night, French women let them self-soothe. According to the author of the French parenting book, the ‘pause’ technique trains kids to go through their night routine on their own.

Pamela goes on with the conscious approach to bringing up children, “Give willingly, refuse unwillingly…But let your refusal be irrevocable. Let no entreaties move you; let your ‘no,’ once uttered.” What it all comes down to is that every other decision parents make should resemble a solid ‘wall’. Chances are the kids will try to use their strength as a battering ram to smash down your no. But in the end, they will give up knowing you’re firm in your decisions. As a result, you will have a calm and patient child even though you don’t give them everything they way.  

raising children in France

4. Explain to Children You Have a Personal Life

While being a parent is a 24/7 job with no salaries and days off included, you’re much more than that. In addition to catering to kids, French parents take on a range of other life roles – starting from being someone’s daughter or son to maintaining friendships and relationships with colleagues – each requiring half or total isolation from a child. “French parents don’t just think these separations are good for parents. They also genuinely believe that they’re important for kids, who must understand that their parents have their own pleasures. Thus the child understands that he is not the center of the world, and this is essential for his development.”

5. Pay More Attention to Your Clothes and Appearance

It’s no doubt that taking time for self-care seems unreal for a new mom. What does the French parenting philosophy have to say about it? Get beauty treatments, no matter what. Take a shower (a bath!), no matter what. Go shopping, no matter what. Let a hairdresser work magic, no matter what. “If you act (and dress) as if you have a fascinating inner life, you may soon find that you actually do—and that you feel more balanced as a result,” recommends the American mom. Empower yourself with self-love. After all, a lot of family rules come down to one thing: happy mom, happy home. 

6. Parents' Bedroom – Parents' Castle

Not only do French kids know that their parent’s bedroom is the do-not-enter-without-knocking place, but they actually make sure to disappear at bedtime. According to Ms. Druckerman, “French parents are strict about enforcing bedtime. They treat ‘adult time’ not as an occasional, hard-won privilege but as a basic human need.” Bravo!

French parenting tips

Difference between American Parenting and French Parenting

Seems like Pamela Druckerman drew the curtain of the world-known wisdom of French parenting and French family values. Having raised her kids while living in France, an American mother shares her unique experience of implementing some local parenting techniques while making sure to maintain her identity. It turns out, there are some distinctive differences between American family values and raising kids in a French style. To be brief, we sketched some of them:

  • Magic words. "Merci" (thanks), "s'il vous plaît" (please), "au revoir" (bye), and "bonjour" (hello) are the magic words French parents teach their kids. American parents choose to use two – “please” and “thanks.” The number of words is probably caused by the fact that greeting people is a must in the land of wine.
  • Individuality. When it comes to individuality, the US kids have a lot to boast of! At the same time, the authoritative parenting style of the French leaves less room for that.
  • Child’s menu. There’s no kiddo’s menu in France. The little ones have the same food on their plates as the adults. Besides, children seem to become accustomed to the meals that their American buddies would call “ew.”
  • Hairstyles. In the US, parents let their kids have hairstyles up to their taste while French styles are limited to a classy bob. What a paradox for the country of haute couture!
  • Freedom & responsibility. Contrary to the little ones in the United States, boys and girls in France use public transportation on their own before they even turn 11.
  • Parenting guides. Parenting books seem to be covered with layers of dust in France, while American parents find nothing wrong with using the help of a good book.
  • Schedules. There’s only one schedule in a French family – the patients’ schedule. American moms and dads let kids dominate to spend more time with the little ones. After all, how can anything be more important than a little copy-paste version of yourself?


When the question is about raising un bébé, everyone wants to parent like the French. It seems like there, parents were privy to the secret of parenting that American moms and dads strive for. Now, jokes aside, the ultimate truth remains unchanged (and geography hardly matters) – regardless of the parenting path you choose to step on, raise your kids with loving guidance.

After all, the only measure of proper parenting is a happy child. Or not?


  • I rarely read books on parenting because it seems like I know better than any experts. However, this book broke through my resistance, and I actually felt compelled to listen to the advice.

    - Emma
  • French certainly know a thing or two about raising children. Thank you.

    - Blake
  • The insights on balance and nurturing independence are pure gold. thanks

    - Lizzi
  • Loved the insights from the French parenting book!
    Excited to implement some of these tips in my own parenting journey.

    - Mary

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