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French kids have a reputation of being very well-behaved. Why is that?
I think it’s partly true and partly just reputation. It’s true that at mealtimes you won’t see kids running around restaurants as much (or as loudly) as you would in, say, the U.S. But I’ve definitely seen my fair share of tantrums and naughty attitudes!
Why are French parents so strict?
As an American, I think even my parents were somewhat strict, and their parents even more strict. I feel like only recently have Americans loosened up their parenting styles to what we see today. It seems the French haven’t done that (yet).
What are the most common rules and boundaries (regarding sleeping, eating, playing, manners, studying) that children need to obey?
It seems most French kids have a bedtime that is pretty well adhered-to. You rarely see French kids snacking between meals, and I think that helps them stay behaved during meals because they’re actually hungry and will sit and eat! They almost always say hi, bye, please, and thank you – something their parents do as well, contrary to the stereotype that French people are rude. I don’t know as much about the schoolwork since my kids were 2 and 4 when we moved from France to the U.S.
French parents are not ‘obsessive’ with kids like other European nations. For example, they need to have their “grown up” time in the evening and “grown up space” (so that children’s toys are not allowed in the living room). Can you explain that or maybe give me some examples?
I had always heard this before having my own kids but I never managed to make it work for me! My husband and I are what the French call “fusionnels” with our kids – we make them way too much the center of attention and don’t always leave enough time for our own needs and space. Although when you have four people crammed into a tiny one-bedroom apartment, space is all relative anyway!
Is it true that they don’t hesitate to small acts of violence? And, on what occasions?
It could be true but I haven’t really seen it.
I’ve read also that French kids are more patient (and, even so that they don’t have ADHD like in other countries). How are French parents “training” children’s patience?
If you find someone who knows the answer, could you share it with me? I feel like I observed most other French children having patience but couldn’t figure out what the parents were doing differently than me. Even the parents I asked couldn’t really articulate it. I’m guessing it has something to do with the above, where they (consciously or subconsciously) don’t put the child at the center of everything.
French mothers are not plagued by guilt. They do not spend time second-guessing themselves, how so?
I think a lot of American parents feel they need a “parenting style” and many research a lot before having kids. Whereas I feel like French moms don’t put as much thought into it, they just seem to do whatever their parents did or whatever comes naturally to them as far as parenting. Therefore they don’t feel the need to question it because they’re not even really thinking about it. And it seems to be working for them!
One of your books is about potty training in France, can you tell me more about it?
Sure! I wrote Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer while I was on bed rest for 14 weeks with my second child. I wanted to write a follow-up to my first book, Confessions of a Paris Party Girl, which was about moving to France and falling in love. Once I had kids, a sequel was a natural step! The book’s title is a bit misleading – my kids were too young to be potty-trained at the time I wrote the book – but the sentiment is still there: It’s all about the ups and downs of having kids in Paris. It’s a mostly humorous account of what I went through, with some heartwarming bits thrown in.